"You have to work hard to offend Christians. By nature, Christians are the most forgiving, understanding, and thoughtful group of people I've ever dealt with. They never assume the worst. They appreciate the importance of having different perspectives. They're slow to anger, quick to forgive, and almost never make rash judgments or act in anything less than a spirit of total love . . . No, wait--I'm thinking of Labrador retrievers!" David Learn, 1998

Monday, February 28, 2011

"You're in love with your father"

For a safe place, go to http://littleselves.blogspot.com/ 

     I started seeing a psychologist soon after I married my first husband. I was severely depressed, I tried to jump out of the car on freeways, I was cutting myself. Obviously, I was crazy. At least that's what I thought and that's most certainly what my husband thought. Running through my head again, as it had constantly when I was a child, was the question, "What's wrong with me? What's-wrong-with-me? WHATSWRONGWITHME?"
     The first professional I went to told me bluntly at the end of the first session, "You're in love with your father."
     I was so stunned by such a bizarre statement coming out of left field like that I never went back. 
     The second psychologist I tried kept any diagnoses he might have had to himself and let me talk. I saw him off and on for years, as my children were growing up. I told him how awful I was, not at all like my perfect mother, and how good my husband was and how he deserved so much better.
     Of what was happening at home in our relationship which made therapy necessary I remember almost nothing. I have one glimpse of the two of us sitting on the edge of our unmade bed. My husband had just asked me a question and I remember knowing I was going to answer it. I was just about to. I really was. In just a minute. He repeated it, whatever it was. I heard him, it registered, I was going to say something, I meant to, I had nothing against answering him. But I never actually did. I see myself sitting there, catatonic for a long, long time, as he got increasingly frustrated and despairing. Always on the verge of giving him a perfectly reasonable response, feeling no reason not to. I could sit like that for--well, time ceased to have meaning. Shallow breaths, totally relaxed muscles, making no movement whatsoever.
     Therapy was like major surgery, with one or two minor distinctions. First the surgeon used no anesthesia. And second, every time he had me fully open and dissected on the table, he'd look at his watch and say, "Our time's up. I'll see you in a week." I had to somehow gather all those bloody intestines and organs and things, holding the traumatized raw edges and my hospital gown together so I could climb off the operating table and pretend to function like a normal person for another 167 hours.
     I remember bits of therapy, too. I stood in the doorway of his office. I told him "she" didn't want to come in, "she" didn't want to sit down. She didn't want to play. And I remember (maybe it was the same day) I talked to him as if he were my father, as if he was the one who had molested me--"You did this," I said. "You did that." When he asked a question about "penetration," I freaked out and shut down. I don't have any idea why. Penetration was not my father's MO. Or if it was, I have not yet found that piece of the puzzle. (There are some pieces, as you can imagine, for which I am not looking very hard.)
     I don't expect to get more graphic than this.

For a safe place, go to http://littleselves.blogspot.com/ 

Today I am thankful for tiered and misty mountains.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Who is This Man? (9th of 12) JESUS: HIS SUPREMACY

                        JESUS: HIS SUPREMACY

Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?

1. In the following passages, what/who did Jesus claim to be greater than?
    a. Matthew 12:6
    b. Matthew 12:41
    c. Matthew 12:42
    d. Hebrews 3:3

2. Read John 8:51-59.
    a. What did the Jewish leaders ask? (v. 53)
    b. Did Jesus' answer mean yes or no? (vs. 56, 58)

3. In Hebrews 1:4 who is Jesus said to be greater than? In what ways?
    a. Verse 5
    b. Verse 6
    c. Verse 7-8

4. What did Jesus claim regarding his own authority?
    a. Matthew 28:18
    b. John 10:17, 18
    c. John 14:13, 14
    d. John 17:2

5. What did Jesus claim about his name?
     a. Matthew 18:20
     b. John 14:26
6. What did the writers of the New Testament say about his name?
    a. Luke in Acts 4:12
    b. Paul in Ephesians 1:19b-21
    c. Paul in Philippians 2:9-11

7. What are we exhorted to do in Jesus' name?
    a. Acts 2:38
    b. Ephesians 5:20
    c. Colossians 3:17
    d. John 16:23

8. What did Jesus claim about his words?
    a. Matthew 24:35
    b. John 6:63
    c. John 12:48
    d. John 15:3

9. What did Jesus claim regarding all Messiahs, gurus, and religious leaders before him? John 10:8

10. What did he claim about his knowledge of God in relation to ours?
      a. John 6:46
      b. Luke 10:22

11. What did he claim about his relationship to God?
       a. John 5:23
       b. John 6:45
       c. John 10:30
       d. John 12:44
       e. John 12:45
       f. John 13:20
       g. John 14:6
       h. John 14:7
       i. John 14:11
       j. John 15:23

12. What did Jesus claim about his relationship to our eternal destiny?
       a. John 3:16
       b. John 4:14
       c. John 5:24

13. How many others have provided eternal life for us?
      a. I Timothy 2:5
      b. Acts 4:12

14. What work does God want us to perform? John 6:28, 29

Based on this lesson, WHO IS THIS MAN?    

(To be continued March 6)

Today I am thankful for birdsong.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Love Languages and Prayer

     I've been praying for my brothers' salvation for 47 years but now that they are in their seventies I'm getting serious. I read Dutch Sheets' book, How to Pray for Lost Loved Ones and it increased my faith to remember God does not want any to perish, His arm is not shortened that it cannot save, He loved the world so He gave His only Son to save us, He came to seek and to save the lost, His name means Savior. . .
     I can pray with more conviction now.
     But I'm also praying differently in another way. I've fused How to Pray for Lost Loved Ones with Gary Chapman's The Five Love Languages. Instead of praying confrontationally, "Make them see the truth. Bring them to the end of themselves. Do whatever it takes--" I recognize that Tim and Ted have secret passages into their hearts which only the One who made them knows. I ask God to reach them through their love languages.
     Dr. Gary Chapman says we each have a love language. We can be reached best through presents, presence, words, service or the other one I can never remember (must not be mine). I suspect there are many more than five.
     Ted and Tim were both agnostics years ago. Ted still is. He hasn't budged an inch. He's a materialist. There's no life after this, not even consciousness and he's okay with that. He claims he has never in his life seen anything which could only be accounted for by the supernatural. I consider him an atheist. He says he could believe in any god but Jehovah. To him, Jehovah is "Hitler writ large," a big bully.
     Yet Ted hungers for justice. He loves natural beauty and mathematical precision. And Ted has a fun side. He enjoys horsing around with his children (the latest batch, with his third wife, are Laria, 12 and Vyron, 9). He enjoys animals. He likes word play. He likes writing science fiction, almost always with a humorous twist or slant. He likes literature (which is why he's read it all), astronomy and physics and philosophy. And when we're talking about anything but God, Christianity, and the Bible, he and I get along fine. We get along fine then, too, if we're respectful.
     Tim, on the other hand, has come a huge way over the past decade or two, so far that now he defends design to Ted, which drives Ted crazy. Tim says now that he sees it, design is everywhere; how could he have not seen it before! (He's still not sure what or who the designer might be.) He says Hebrew grace before meals and seems really open--but he has to be convinced in his own mind.  He doesn't take into himself anything lightly but once he does, he's solid.
     Tim loves languages and he likes trying to communicate with any children (not just his own) and animals and birds on their level. He doesn't embarrass. He isn't threatened by any concept or position. (Well, he's resistant to the Trinity.) He appreciates everyone. When someone asks him, "How are you?" he'll say modestly, "Better than I deserve."
     Somewhere in each of them is at least one love language that is a royal pathway to the Creator who made them this way, in His own image.   

Today I am thankful for health, even though we don't have it right now.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Vacations: And then there's Mum's

From my journal, August 24, 1985:

     Our 15-year old son Ben came back from vacation. He had caught two fish. My in-laws Marge and Cecil got back from vacation. They had tried escargot. Our friends Mike and Carol got back from vacation. He had chipped a tooth. Mum got back from vacation. She had had dinner with the prime minister of Japan.

Today I am thankful for Mozart.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

TIM's distant past

     My brother Tim can recall all kinds of interesting anecdotes from his past lives. (He and I spent most of our lives in different worlds.) Now 74, he'll be over at our house for dinner and he'll say casually, "When we were stomping grapes in Italy one time--"
      "What?" I'll squeak. "I never knew you stomped grapes in Italy!"
      Or, "When I was in New Delhi--"
    "When were you in New Delhi?"
    "That's where I got the freak bus." 
     "The freak bus?"   
     "It was the '60s. A couple of guys would get together and buy a bus and drive it across the continent. This man had a cobra in a basket and a mongoose in a cage. Its eyes were red like rubies glaring at the cobra. I asked him, 'Can you let it out?' and he said, 'You can't find a good cobra these days. Very expensive."
     Or, "This reminds me of when I was on the Trans-Siberian Railroad. They had something like that at the end of each car."
     "Like what?"
     "Those--those things of tea--yes, samovars--at both ends of the car." Then he'll talk about the Soviet Union.
     "In the Army, I was given aptitude tests. I deliberately did badly on Morse code. But I jumped on language school. I had a couple of romance languages under my belt and German, which is Teutonic. They offered Russian, which gave me a chance to learn a Slavic language. I had to learn Chinese all by myself.
     "When I was in Russia they had musical instruments in barber shops so customers could get up little quartets and things. I was watching a soccer game on Russian TV. People were three-deep watching. At half time where we would have had commercials, they had a man showing how to change a tire. The people stopped watching and wandered away. He put it under water to find the leak. . . and pumped and pumped. . .and bounced it--and said, 'See, that's how you change a tire.' Then the people wandered back and were three-deep again."
     Or, "I saw a bunch of discouraged grass in Istanbul--"
     "Yeah, just--you know, the normal kind. And I realized I hadn't seen grass for 3,000 miles."
       Or, "I met a guy waiting at Pakistan/Afghanistan customs. He had bandoliers of cartridges crossed on his chest. His rifle had mother-of-pearl inlay and you could see dints on the metalwork where a local blacksmith had made him a replacement part. All I remember of one of those long Asian conversations where you use pieces of all the languages you know plus sign language is asking him, 'You Pakistani, you Afghan?'
     "He said, 'Me, Khyber Pass.'
     "When the Russians invaded I felt sorry for the Russians."
     Tim and his girlfriend at the time were caught up in the Tlatelolco massacre of 1968, a government massacre of student and civilian protesters and bystanders that took place on October 2, 1968, in Mexico City.  
     "I was at the bottom of the stairs when the shooting started. People with white gloves were running everywhere. Isabel and I ran up the stairs. Students were gathering in someone's apartment." One of the students was shot through the window and died in Tim's arms.
    "It was at night. They took people out one at a time, shot them or dragged off live bodies. They pulled me outside, too, and questioned me.
    "I told them, 'I'm a poet. I'm just visiting.'
    "One of them demanded, 'Which poets do you like?'
    "Walt Whitman. My favorite Spanish poet is Federico Garcia Lorca." I recited to them, 'Verde que te quiero verde. Verde viento. Verdes ramas. . .' Nobody could fake that. They looked at each other and one said, 'Okay, take him back in.'
    They cleaned out a lot of people that night.
     Recently Tim said, "It's a bore to have a disintegrating mind."

Today I am thankful for the fragrance of night-blooming jasmine.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

MUM: In my corner

From my journal, March 3, 1985
     Mum was one of the speakers at the International Women's Day luncheon today. The other was an anti-nuke ultra-liberal named Mary Lou Brophy. Mum did a good job describing how our family had become involved in the peace movement. ("We found that we'd become leaders in the peace movement. We didn't even know there was a peace movement.")
     Mary Lou spoke loftily, brashly and aggressively about women's power, about sisterhood, about the value of each person, about the need to say, "No, we won't let killing go on in our community." (She had helped get nuclear weapons out of Seal Beach.) She asked rhetorically why the women of Dachau had not risen up to stop what was happening in the camp there. She said, "I didn't bear kids to have them grow up to kill another mother's kids."
     When it was time for questions, I stood and addressed Mary Lou, reminding her of what she had just said about saying "no" to killing in our community. Then I asked, "Would you please apply this to the issue of abortion?"
     An actual audible "Boo" filled the dining room from over 100 throats. Mary Lou tightened, said in a cold voice, "Every woman has the constitutional right to abortion. Next question."
     Someone in the audience spoke up. "What abut the bombings and the harassment at clinics--" She went on at length.
     Mary Lou: "Let's get back to specific issues of peace."
     Mum stepped up to her microphone. "I think the issue is one that needs to be addressed. I agree with Jessica, not just because she is my daughter. We need to face the fact that nuclear weapons and abortion are both destructive."
     Bless you, Mum, for backing me up!
     Then a young woman rose and said, "We're all women and we have different viewpoints. Just because this woman [meaning me] sees things differently from some of the rest of us is no reason to jump down her throat."
     "I didn't hear anybody's throat being jumped down," said Mary Lou stiffly and immediately took the next question.
     In a couple of minutes the luncheon was over. The woman on my right told me privately she agreed with me, the woman on my left (one of the organizers) told me it wasn't fair on children to have them born into a family where you didn't know what would happen to them. (I was too shattered to bring up the arguments about abortion as preventive medicine or ultimate child abuse .)
     At that moment the emcee said to join hands so we all joined hands and sang, "Let there be peace and let it begin with me" and then everyone milled around or left, many of them averting their gaze from me or staring without expression at my smile.
     How ironic, I thought, that all the feminist talk of sisterhood and unity and peace only applies to women who agree with them!

Today I am thankful for clouds.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

MUM: More so

     Mum used to say, probably quoting someone else, that when we get older we just get "more so." People who had a positive outlook on life when they were young become even more cheerful as they age, those who were surly to start with get bitter, the selfish increasingly suck the whole world into themselves.
     She had friends in their eighties (octo-geraniums, she called them) she hadn't heard from in a long time. When she called and asked what they were doing these days the wife said vaguely, "Oh, we look for things."
     Increasingly forgetful. That was Mum, that's my brother Tim (8 years older than I), and that's getting to be me. I think part of it is that things of this world, material things, are becoming less and less relevant to us. Maybe I always was scatter-brained (that's multi-tasking on overload) but now I'm more so. You know how it goes. I go downstairs and wander around awhile. Then I'll dial Intercom 2 on the landline and ask, "Jerry, where's--whatever it is I'm looking for?"
     In my case, I know the reason it happens. It's because I walk out from under my thought. I go downstairs and the thought doesn't come with me. If I go back to where I first had the thought, there it is and we can reconnect. It helps to announce aloud when I start downstairs what it is I'm going down for. That tells it who's boss.
     My brother Tim quotes a Harvard ichthyologist who complained that every time he learned the name of a student he forgot the name of a fish. Tim is studying Hebrew and he can't afford to remember anything else. In the 1960s he started smoking pot and after a decade or two I pointed out that marijuana destroys brain cells. He said grandly, "I have so many I can afford to lose a few." But where are they now that he needs them? We host a family movie theater once a week and when it's over, Jerry and I have to routinely remind Tim to remember his hat, his jacket, his bag, etc.
     I'll help Jerry remind Tim of these things but Jerry has to remind me to take my pills, be on time for appointments, and keep my twice-weekly prayer dates over the phone with Janet and Sandra.
     So far Jerry is keeping it together for all of us. I hope his memory stays sound. I hope he doesn't start getting like the rest of us.

Today I am thankful for postal workers.

Monday, February 21, 2011

MUM: The distant past is always with us

From my journal, Dec. 16, 1984

     As Mum was leaving Bible study the other night I noticed her Bible was still on the coffee table. I handed it to her at the door as she was saying her goodbyes. We had no more than gotten home when the phone rang. It was the host of the Bible study reporting that Mum had left her purse.
     Last night she came with Rick and me (in the rain) to a Crusade for Life Christmas potluck. We were supposed to bring a dessert. She made one but forgot to bring it.
    I suppose it's typical. She remembers details of events 65 years ago. When she came to our house to get her purse the day after Bible study she made us each a cup of tea and we sat down at the dining table and she told me she'd been asked to speak at an annual gathering of women's organizations on March 3rd.
     "March 3rd," I repeated. "Girls' Day in Japan."
     "And David Dorn's birthday. My only cousin. He was 15 months older than I was and I really looked up to him. He taught me how to spit peas." She giggled. "I was about three and he was four. We had a lot of fun until my mother came in and found us. I didn't have a brother to teach me things so David opened up a whole new world to me. I'd always thought peas had to be eaten!"
     We both laughed.

Today I am thankful for Trader Joe's Nutty Bits.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

HUMMINGBIRDS: And then there were none. . .

     I have learned that Anna's hummingbirds have to be a year old before they can reproduce, so the mother of the ones in our back yard now cannot be one of those (Hummy and Hummus) hatched there last June. She is probably the same mother with a new set of twins. Two days ago the  hummingbabies in our back yard (Humberto and Humberta) looked like this:

     Yesterday, Humberto was alone. (I really don't know which was which; I'm guessing. And the sex cannot be determined for a year. I guess as soon as they determine what gender they are, they find one of the opposite ones and start a family.)
     I've been watching http://phoebeallens.com from which Bea and Jay fledged, three minutes apart, early Valentine's morning. It seemed as if a lot of preliminary fuss and agitation was necessary before actual take-off. Those two chicks were huge, each one big enough to fill the nest, before they finally flew. They constantly paced the ledge of the nest, flapping each other practically out of it and preening nervously between times. (Mama Phoebe was refurbishing a new nest nearby while feeding these two nearly into adolescence. She--or another hummingbird who forced her out, I can't tell for sure from the chat--can be seen sitting on it periodically. I don't think there are any eggs yet or she wouldn't be out and about so much.)
     Anyway, our two weren't that big, so when Humberta disappeared, fledging was the last explanation I came to. I thought of hawks and I thought of falling. I peered off the balcony onto the ground beneath their tree, looking for her little body, relieved when I didn't see it. Our twins hadn't been practicing maneuvers, hadn't seemed at all antsy about the Big Leap but I finally thought maybe Humberta had fledged. (The eggs are often laid a day or two apart, so the birds can hatch and fledge on different days, too.)
     All yesterday Humberto sat alone looking (I thought) pensive. This morning just before we went downstairs for breakfast, he was standing on the edge. Maybe soon, I thought. Sure enough, half an hour later, the nest was empty. All I could see was its soft white lining. (I'd show you but the Powers-That-Be inside my computer wouldn't let me post more than one picture.)
     Since then, I've had glimpses of one of the little ones flitting about the trees, looking smug.    
Today's official post, JESUS: LAMB OF GOD, is below.

Who is This Man? (8th of 12) JESUS: LAMB OF GOD

                                  JESUS: LAMB OF GOD
          "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world."
                                                        John the Forerunner

      Our climb has led us from seeing Jesus as miracle-working Son of Mary. . . to sinless Son of Man. . . to prophesied Son of David (Messiah). But a dead Messiah is a false Messiah. The Scriptures say the Messiah will live forever on the throne of his ancestor King David. Without a resurrection, Jesus' words and works would only show him to be an insightful teacher, a good man, a man with personal power and charisma--to the single generation in which he lived.
     Did Jesus fulfill the prophecies that the Messiah would be raised from the dead?

1. Describe the person Scripture predicted would precede and prepare people for the Messiah? Who met the requirements of this prophecy? What did this person say about himself?
     Compare Malachi 3:1 with Mark 1:1-8.
     Compare Isaiah 40:1-5, esp. v. 3 with:
     a. Matthew 3:1-3; 
     b. Mark 1:1-4 ;
     c. Luke 3:1-6        
     d. Luke 1:5-17, esp. v. 17and Luke 1:57-80, esp. vs. 76-77
     e. Luke 3:1-6 and 15-18
     f. John 1:19-23

2. What did this Forerunner call Jesus? John 1:29  

3.  What is the significance of this name?
     Compare Exodus 12:1-7, 12-13, 21-23 with:
        a.  I Peter 1:18-19 
        b.  I Corinthians 5:7
        c.  Revelation 5:1-14

4. What do the Scriptures say about this Lamb dying and coming back to life?
     Read Isaiah 53, esp. vs. 6-12. What words or phrases can you find that describe how this Lamb of God would take away the sins of the world?
     Compare Psalm 16:9-10 with Luke 24:1-8, 31 and 34.

5. What did Jesus prophesy would follow his death? In parallel passages,  see what additional details you can find.
Matthew 17:9

Matthew 17:23
Matthew 20:18-19
Matthew 26:31-32
Mark 8:31

Mark 9:31
Mark 10:33-34
Luke 9:22

Luke 18:31-33

6. What did he say about those who reject evidence of his resurrection from the Scriptures?
Luke 16:31

7. How did the apostle Paul deal with the people's misconceptions about the Messiah after the resurrection? Acts 17:2,3

8. Did Jesus rise from the dead?
     a. Peter's testimony, Acts 3:1-15, esp. v. 15and Acts 4:1-10.
     b. Paul's testimony:  I Corinthians 1:20-23

At the end of Lesson 5, JESUS: HIS CHARACTER we faced a dilemma. How can we imperfect people meet the standard of righteousness God requires to enter His kingdom? How can God be perfectly just and yet forgive our sins, which require eternal death? Think about what you have learned about Jesus' character in Lesson 5, what you have learned about Jesus in this lesson so far and then see what light Hebrews 9:22 and John 1:29 shed on the total picture.

BONUS QUESTION: In what way is Jonah an illustration of Jesus in the following passages? Compare Jonah 1:17 with Matthew 12:40.

Based on this lesson, WHO IS THIS MAN? 

(To be continued February 27)

Today I am thankful for the ocean.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

FAMILY: Introducing Lexie!

Lexie, 2, adopted today by Katherine Padilla, our granddaughter in Edmond, OK, for her upcoming 7th birthday.

God is on the side of your marriage (4 of 4)

     Then, sweetly, as if assuming there will be reconciliation, the apostle Paul addresses the couple together in Ephesians 5, verses 31-33: "As the Scriptures say, 'A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.' This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband."
     And in I Peter 3:8-22 he broadens his audience again to address every Christian, married or single: "Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it. For the Scriptures say,
   'If you want to enjoy life
      and see many happy days,
   keep your tongue from speaking evil
      and your lips from telling lies.
  Turn away from evil and do good.
      Search for peace, and work to maintain it.
  The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right,
      and his ears are open to their prayers.
   But the Lord turns his face
      against those who do evil.' 
     "Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good?  But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats.  Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.  Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong."
      You might try reading Chuck Swindoll's Improving Your Serve (which transformed Jerry's first marriage) or Gary Thomas' Sacred Marriage, or the other two Gary's, Gary Smalley and Gary Chapman or anything by H. Norman Wright or  Ed Wheat, M.D. Marriage is seldom 50-50. Sometimes it has to be 100-0. Jesus calls each of us, married or single, to nothing less. 
     Frankly, having said all this, I can't guarantee this will save or even improve your marriage. God has designed the universe so your spouse's will--and ours--can (seem to) overrule His. But I can guarantee you Jesus will walk with you through whatever happens and will listen to you and speak to you as His beloved one, as long as you are waiting with a "weaned heart."
     I can guarantee this will bring you closer to your Father's heart, that though there may still be pain, it will be a different kind of pain, a cauterizing, cleansing, healing pain, a pain with purpose. For me, it is important when I'm under any severe stress (like when Rick was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer) that I do it right, that through the upcoming holocaust I learn everything which God wants to teach me, so it won't have been in vain.
     As one woman who was still standing for her marriage two weeks before her husband was due to marry another woman told her counselor Gary Thomas, "God can still restore my marriage but even if he doesn't, he's still God. This has been such a rich time for me spiritually, so profoundly life-changing. I wouldn't trade it for anything. I can't say I'm glad my marriage broke up, but I am glad for the fruit it has created." (Sacred Marriage, p. 122)

Bible references cited: Ephesians 5:31-33; I Peter 3:8-22 (New Living Translation).

Today I am thankful for what God is doing and going to do in your marriage and in your life.

Friday, February 18, 2011

God is on the side of your marriage (3)

      Still doesn't sound like good news? How about this: neither the church nor our spouse deserves perfect love but neither do we. Jesus, who sets the example by loving us perfectly, calls us to follow in His steps--and He empowers us to do so. He himself, with his own hand, will someday crown us for our obedience and submission to Him.
     Jesus knows all about being spurned, rejected, belittled, betrayed. How did He respond, the One who has never deserved anything but gratitude and worship? "He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth." to defend himself in the face of unjust accusations. (Are you feeling sheared--naked, exposed, and shivering with cold and humiliation?)
     Oh look, we've got mail! "Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution. . . For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone. He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly."
      And more mail! In Ephesians, chapter 5,  God through the apostle Paul has written to tell us the secret to an abundant life. He starts out (verse 15) talking about being intentionally wise, about being filled with the Holy Spirit and with song and about being thankful. Then he says, almost as an afterthought, "(Oh, and by the way,) submit to one another out of reverence for Christ."
     But in no way is this just a throwaway line. It is foundational to all he is about to say about relationships--between husbands and wives, between parents and children, between servants and masters. Every one of us in the body of Christ is called to mutual submission.
     The rest of this part of the letter is giving us the secret of the abundant married life. Listen up! This is good stuff. He is going to be specific. By the way, there is a letter in that same passage addressed to your spouse, but since it isn't addressed to you, don't be concerned with it. It's not your job to change your spouse. That's God's job. It's your job to love your spouse.

     God's letter to us wives is in verses 22-24: "For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything."
     Paul counsels something similar in I Peter, chapter 3: "In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands. Then, even if some refuse to obey the Good News, your godly lives will speak to them without any words. They will be won over  by observing your pure and reverent lives.  
     "Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.  This is how the holy women of old made themselves beautiful. They trusted God and accepted the authority of their husbands.  For instance, Sarah obeyed her husband, Abraham, and called him her master. You are her daughters when you do what is right without fear of what your husbands might do."
     Jesus calls us wives to yield to our husband's headship whether he is worth it or not, whether he responds positively or not. He calls us to do this out of obedience to Him, as if we are doing it for Him, the One who is worthy. He will enable us to accomplish this if we let Him love our spouse through us. 
     Jesus calls you to see yourself as standing on the same side as your husband, being his helper, support and cheerleader. He wants you to resolve by a daily (hourly, if necessary) act of your will to love him as the one God has appointed to be head of your marriage, seeking his best interests by serving him, asking his forgiveness, or forgiving him whether he asks for forgiveness or not. Whatever else it means, it means humbling yourself as Christ did.
     Do it for Jesus, as an act of obedience, as an act of worship, as an evidence of the intimate love between you and Him.

      God's letter to husbands in Ephesians chapter 5 is in verses 25-30: "For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. And we are members of his body."
     Jesus calls you to love your wife whether she is worth it or not, whether she responds positively or not. He calls you to do this in obedience to Him, as if we are doing it for Him, the One who is worthy. He will enable you to accomplish this if you let Him love her through you.
     Jesus calls you to see yourself as standing on the same side as your wife, being her defender and champion. He asks you to resolve by a daily (hourly, if necessary) act of your will to love her as Christ loved the church, laying down your life for her moment-by-moment, whether that means serving her, asking her forgiveness, or forgiving her whether she asks for forgiveness or not. Whatever else it means, it means humbling yourself as Christ did.
     Do it for Jesus, as an act of obedience, as an act of worship, as an evidence of the respect you have for Him. 
     Another letters to husbands is in I Peter 3:7: "In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered."

Bible references cited: Isaiah 53:7; I Peter 2:13-25; Ephesians 5:15-21; Ephesians 5: 22-24; I Peter 3:1-6Ephesians 5:25-30; I Peter 3:7. New Living Translation.

I'm thankful our obedience down here brings God pleasure and that it is okay to obey for the purpose of  winning rewards up there. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

God is on the side of your marriage (2)

     Someone gave me wise advice when my daughter was newly married. Like every couple, they had a few rocky patches at first and she called home a couple of times to vent a little and ask my advice. She was careful not to bad-mouth her husband but it would have been easy for me to side with her and assume he was the bad guy.    
     Thankfully, I remembered the counsel given me: Be on the side of the marriage. Not on her side, not on his side. On the side of the marriage.
     I must have done it right because a few months later when they had another dust-up of some sort, it was my son-in-law who suggested my daughter call me!
     God is on the side of your marriage. He wants you to be more than two ragged halves of a whole,  clobbered and bloody, bewildered and disillusioned, or empowered by bitterness, wondering why you're holding a certificate of divorce in your hand. 
     Only one catch. You  have to do it His way. Shouting back? No. Stalking out and slamming doors? No. And no pouting or sulking! A soft answer turns away anger. (If it doesn't, we're called to use one anyway.) No blaming or shaming. No manipulative tears. No resorting to drugs, alcohol, or over-eating. No back-biting. No affairs. No hitting below the belt, no head-butting, no rabbit punches. Keep it clean, keep it civil, keep it mature.
     How can anyone be expected to do this? You probably can't, not consistently. Lean on Him. Stay in close touch with Him. Keep short accounts with Him, confessing wrong when the Spirit prods. Consult Him frequently.
      First thing every morning (or even the night before) give Him your life, this day, your marriage. Verbally, symbolically, put on all the armor God has given you. You're in a very real battle. You need the truth wrapped around you to keep you from defending yourself, justice to protect your intentions, peace to keep you from running away, salvation to protect your thoughts, faith to keep fiery darts of condemnation from piercing your heart, and the word of God with which to come in the opposite spirit--kindness, patience, tenderness, forgiveness, mercy, and joy.
     If you remain sheltered in Jesus, as blameless as possible, keeping your shield up (not your fists), your spouse will have to deal with Jesus. Don't give your spouse ammunition to deflect the focus to your snide statement, your high-and-mighty attitude, your hypocrisy in some area of your life. It helped me to think of hurtful words as whizzing over my left shoulder, aimed not at me but at our Lord. I tried to stay out of the way and let Him handle them. (Oh, that's hard!) It helps too, to think of the enemy--big, hairy, dumb, and smelly--as standing behind your spouse, goading him to hurt you. Your enemy is not your spouse.
     One of your weapons is the name of Jesus. Because your enemy is God's enemy, too, you have God's authority to use His name to silence or rout him. Address the enemy aloud when you do this (God can read your mind; the enemy can't): "Satan, I forbid you to hurt me through my husband or to hurt my husband through me. I command you to leave in Jesus' name and go wherever he sends you. I forbid you to return or harass us in any way." Something like that. (Note the "us.")
     In my first marriage, Rick and I were exchanging verbal slugs when I completely lost it. I picked up the telephone and heaved it against the sliding closet door, shattering its mirror. Without even knowing he was going to do it, my husband commanded, "Violence, leave, in the name of Jesus!"
     Instantly I was standing there in my right mind, thinking, "What did I just do?"
     With the enemy out of the way, Rick and I were free to apologize, talk (instead of yell), and work things through.
     You say it's not fair that you do all the work, that your spouse doesn't deserve your love and respect. No. But isn't Jesus worthy of your love and respect--and worship? Can you do it for Him?
     A friend of mine stood for her marriage for years and years and years, long after all her friends told her to "get on with her life." Her husband left her and their children because another woman and her children "needed" him. Lorraine fought daily for balance between self-pity and vengeance. She eked out a living as a school crossing guard and took any bitter and vindictive thoughts, all the injustice of it, to the Lord instead of to her friends. It was the hardest thing God had ever asked of her.
     It was decades before her husband came home. First he visited, quick visits, superficial conversation. She asked how he was doing, asked after his new family, sobbed into her pillow alone afterward. He came and stayed longer, beginning to unravel and let her see glimpses of his shame and wretchedness for the choices he had made. She never rubbed it in but she didn't dismiss it as nothing, either. When the Lord pulled everything out from under him and he crawled back, the prodigal husband, she didn't gloat. She didn't resent getting the dregs. He had terminal cancer. Last I knew she was taking care of him with the tenderness of Jesus.
       You will miss blessings, insights, benefits, growth and intimacy with Jesus if you choose one of the many "wrong responses to pain." The pay-off, if you endure to the end, is so, so worth it.

Today I am thankful that maybe you are the one who is going to regain hope!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

God is on the side of your marriage

     If your marriage is a mess, I have good news for you. Your spouse is not your enemy.
     You do have an enemy but it isn't your spouse.
     You and your spouse have a common enemy.
     Your enemy is after your marriage. (If he can destroy you, your faith, your peace, and your self-esteem in the process, he's okay with that, too.)
     Why is this good news?
     Because you have a Friend who is greater than your enemy. This Friend designed and created each one of you. He designed and created marriage. Even if it doesn't feel like it right now, He brought you both into this marriage. He has a future and a hope for each of you individually and for the two of you together.
     This Friend patterned marriage after His own love relationship between Himself and His people, that is, us. He wooed us, cleaned us up, dressed us in white, and committed Himself to us forever. He has arranged a Marriage Supper in our honor and has it on His calendar.
     He wants your marriage, your love for each other, to reflect his love for you.
     He is fully invested in defending, restoring and making your marriage better than it ever was.

     Okay, your marriage is so not anything like God intended! It's sick, it's dying, it's dead. You're not even sure you want a resurrection. Your spouse is nothing like Jesus Christ and not worthy of your love or respect.
     Your spouse has sided with the enemy.
     But now it's your turn to pick for your side and guess who is still available--your Friend, the biggest, baddest, toughest, all-time best player on the team! Did I say player? He's the manager! Wait, he's the owner!--wait, He's King of the Universe! And He's got your back!
     Interested in knowing what he's willing to do for you?

(Continued tomorrow)   

Today I am thankful that someone reading this is going to regain hope.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

If Valentine's Day was hard for you

     Now for you wives (or husbands) who read my post "How to stay valentines" yesterday and were thoroughly disheartened by it. It doesn't describe your marriage, maybe never did, and you can't see any way it ever will.
     I've been there, too. My first marriage was a really good one, genuinely good, yet the day came for both Rick and me when we asked God (we found out, comparing notes later), "Is this all there is? Am I stuck with (him/her) the rest of my life?"
     For one thing, we were so far apart on the Myer-Briggs scale we were falling off opposite ends of it. He approached life from his head, I from my heart. He thought explaining things to me rationally would convince me of their veracity and that if I didn't agree with him, it was because I didn't understand. So he would patiently explain it to me again. Louder.
    I felt like a rabbit hunted to ground. I would stop defending my point of view (just as my mother had with my father) and give up, waiting with my head hung down for the lecture to be over. Sometimes, to get it over with sooner, I'd just agree with him. He knew I didn't mean it so he'd try harder to convince me of the soundness of his reasoning.
     I'd concede again. "You're right. I'm wrong." I thought that's what he was after, my surrender, his triumph. But it would only make him more frustrated.
     If he persisted, I'd get desperate. I'd wave an imaginary white flag. "Okay, okay, I get it. You're perfect!" That made him angry--but still he wouldn't let go. I felt trapped.
     Finally I'd get sarcastic. "Okay, I'm slime! Is that what you want?" That drove him crazy.
     Late in the marriage, when we got counseling and really worked hard to hear each other, he said, "Why didn't you stand up to me and make your case? You're a bright person; you might have persuaded me I was wrong."
     But by that point in an argument I couldn't care less who was right or wrong. When he shouted at me, everything in me would shut down. I would hear my father dismissing my ideas as stupid and crazy. I was all about peace at any price.
     He was all about truth at any price.
     There were other issues. As most of them do, these way preceded the marriage. My father, besides being a scientist, a tennis champion, a trapeze artist, a boat designer and captain, a playwright, and a peace activist, was a child molester.
     Rick told me once, bitterly, "Your father ruined my life." He meant his sex life.
     What about mine? I know Rick really loved me but he couldn't understand why I was ambivalent about sex, often scared to let him initiate it. I longed for safe, tender cuddling but I couldn't guarantee when the time came for more that I would not panic. After feeling rejected time after time, Rick told me he felt like a failure. He told me to stay on my own side of the bed; it was too hard on him to have me close. He wanted to release me from any pressure his expectations might put on me so he told me--me, a woman who already felt like a prostitute for responding to sex--that if I wanted sex, it was up to me to come to him and initiate it. 
     Then my mother died suddenly. While I was grieving her loss, I met a man. He listened like she did, he cared for the broken little girl in me, he believed in me (whatever that means). But he wasn't my mother. He wasn't safe. He was a man.  I spiraled into deep depression. I stopped eating. I ran away from home, drove from Southern California to the Oregon border, turned back, met with my therapist, admitted I was suicidal, and let myself be admitted to a mental hospital.
     There I peered over the precipice into divorce and seriously considered it. Rick even gave me permission to leave him if I wanted to. I chose to stay. During the six weeks in the hospital,  I learned to give value to my feelings and to express my needs.
     To Rick's credit, our marriage meant enough to him--I meant enough to him--that he got into therapy to find out how to not only save what we had but change so he could improve it.
     Then he was diagnosed with brain cancer. We let go of our separate lives, of our right to be right or to fulfill ourselves or be satisfied by the other person. Our existence narrowed down to clinging to each other and fighting for his life. The 18 bittersweet months between his diagnosis and his death was the most precious time we had together since early marriage. The issue of sex no longer loomed painfully between us. As he became more dependent on me, he became more aware of my value. And as I felt more appreciated, I blossomed, serving him.
     All this to say, I know what a marriage of two people out of sync with, out of sympathy toward, each other is like--and so does Jerry. We are grateful to have a chance to love again and so much that seemed so important the last time around seems so irrelevant now.

Today I am thankful for my first husband, Rick.

Monday, February 14, 2011

How to stay valentines

     I wake early, secured in Jerry's arms. As soon as I stir, he kisses me and says, "Good morning, Sunshine! I love you and I hope you slept well and had nothing but good dreams." We hug and sometimes we count each other's eyes. Then we cuddle as we fall back to sleep together.
     Seven years ago today Jerry brought me roses, a ruby pendant and--a bundt cake. (The stores had run out of chocolates.) He proposed to me (and I accepted) on the swing in my back yard. We had been dating for--oh, let's see. Eleven days. We started pre-marital counseling right away, finishing the series after the wedding, which was 11 weeks later. Our marriage counselor said it wouldn't work; we're too alike.
     Well, it's working and I want to tell you why. It is not because we are too alike. We're not. It's because Jerry is perfect.
     No, he's not, but he's as close as a man can get. After his morning greeting, we read a prayer aloud together, giving the day to the Lord. We pick a color for the day, which applies to what we wear and the tea we drink. (Earl Grey covers black, gray, brown, beige, and white, because we drink it with milk.) He even bought himself a pink shirt for days when I wear pink. Then we shower together.
     You know how these little rituals in the early days of marriage--the waving goodbye from the window, the kiss hello at the door--sort of fall away? Well, the reason we still shower together after nearly seven years is that one day Jerry got into the shower and when I hadn't joined him after a few minutes he said, "I'm lonely." I've never missed the chance to join him again. (By the way, the secret to showering together without the other person getting in the way is to wash each other, not yourself.)
     At every meal, he takes my hands in his and prays, in part, "Thank you for my beautiful, sexy, wonderful, winsome, hardworking, wedded wife, my answer to prayer, my gift from God." And before bed he repeats his wedding vows to me, with a kiss after each one.
     Throughout the day he'll come give me a kiss for no reason, tell me he loves me, and ask what he can do for me. Oh, did I mention he makes breakfast? (We usually make lunch and dinner together.) We grocery shop together and whenever we do, he buys me flowers. He does the vacuuming and often he does the laundry. (We're retired, if you wonder where he gets the time.)
     When we are out he counts every VW bug (and every PT "Snugger" for good measure) and gives me that many kisses when we get home.
      What does he get in return? When we wake up I tell him,"Good morning, my Prince. I hope you slept well and had nothing but good dreams." At every meal I hold his hands and pray, "Thank you for my wonderful, sexy, handsome hard-working, faithful, forgiving, fun husband, my answer to prayer, my gift from God." Before bed, I repeat my wedding vows to him, with a kiss after each one.
     Throughout the day I kiss him for no reason, tell him I love him, and thank him for everything he does for me. I help with the laundry, the cooking and the cleaning. We like to call each other "my love." (Sarah called her husband Abraham "my lord.") Sometimes I tell him, "Thank you for loving me and marrying me and putting up with me." He'll tell me, "Thank you for loving me and marrying me and putting up with me and letting me love you and marry you." He stops there. The safety and tenderness I feel in his acceptance make responding to him easy.
     What first attracted me to Jerry was that he listens. Since then I have been further attracted by the fact that he never shouts (that's a big one with me), never defends or justifies himself, never blames, shames, or puts me down, won't quarrel if I pick a fight, never withholds his love or touch. And when I ask his forgiveness he always says, "There's nothing to forgive. I love you." because he has already let it go. He is the most emotionally stable person I have ever met.
     It has taken me seven years to come out of past dysfunctionality and recognize unconditional love. Every day I feel unworthy of it but day by day I am learning to embrace and enjoy it.     

Today I am thankful for my wonderful, sexy, handsome, hard-working, faithful, forgiving, fun husband, my answer to prayer, my gift from God.

We will not reach the lost if we have normal hair

Check out this hilarious less-than-3 minute video We will not reach the lost if we have normal hair on Matt Blicks's blog, Showing Up. (Scroll down to it.)

Allen's hummers fledged this morning--watch video

     This morning (Valentine's Day), Bea and then Jay took off from their nest in Orange County. We spent most of yesterday afternoon watching them pace around the edge of their nest, flapping their wings and trying to get up their courage to leave--while between 2- and 3,000 viewers gave them encouragement: "Push him out, Bea!" "Mom, stop feeding them so they'll get hungry and leave!" "We have lift but not off." "Are they still there? Oh, good, had to run an errand and thought I'd miss the fledge."
     You can watch Bea's take-off at 7:10 and Jay's take-off  three minutes later.

     I'd feel bereft--if we didn't have our own Anna's hummingbabies in the tree right off our balcony, running about a week behind the Allen's twins. Wish we had a cam set up so you could watch them with us!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Found an update on "Mum and her electronic typewriter"

     I just discovered another journal entry which gives a final, humorous P.S. to my post on February 11. Scroll to bottom of Mum and her electronic typewriter.

Who is This Man? (7th of 12) JESUS: SON OF DAVID (MESSIAH)

                                   JESUS: SON OF DAVID (MESSIAH)

"We have found him, of whom Moses. . .and the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."
                                                                    Nazarenes Philip to Nathanael

      The climate of Israel when Jesus was born was one of expectancy. Although disillusioned before by false Messiahs, the Jews clung to the promise in their Scriptures that God would send them a deliverer through the line of King David. These Scriptures (the Christians' Old Testament) give hundreds of hints about this man.
     Let's look at the prophecies written about this Messiah (or Christ). Many of these are repeated in the book of Matthew, which was written for the purpose of convincing Jews that Jesus of Nazareth was their long-awaited Messiah.

1. Was Jesus in the line of King David?
     a. Luke 1:26-33, esp. verses 27 and 32
     b. Genealogy in Matthew 1:1-16, esp. vs. 1,6, and 16.  
     c. Genealogy in Luke 3:23-38, esp. v. 31

2. What other Messianic prophecies were fulfilled by Jesus' conception and birth?
     a. Compare Isaiah 7:14 with Matthew 1:18-23
     b. Compare Micah 5:2 with Matthew 2:4-6

BONUS QUESTION: Can you explain why Jesus was named Jesus and not Immanuel?

3. What prophecies were fulfilled by Jesus' life?  Compare Isaiah 61:1-2 with Luke 4:16-21
4.  Did Jesus ever claim to be the Messiah?
     a. Mark 14:61, 62
     b. John 4:25, 26

     c. Matthew 11:2-6
     d. Matthew 16:13-17
     e. Mark 15:2

5. Of  whom did Jesus claim the Old Testament writers (Moses, the prophets, writers of the Psalms) were writing? 
     a. Luke 24:44
     b. John 5:39
     c. John 5:46-47

6. Compare how he is pictured in the following passages. (These are called "types.")
a. Exodus 17:6 and I Corinthians 10:3-4
b. Exodus 16:4 and John 6:31-35
c. Numbers 21:8,9 and John 3:14, 15
d. Luke 23:44, 45 and Hebrews 10:19-20
e. Exodus 12:21-23, John 1:29 and Revelation 13:8

7. What was the testimony of contemporaries of Jesus?
     a. Peter, in Matthew 16:13-17 and Mark 8:27-30
     b. Andrew, in John 1:41
     c.  Philip, in John 1:45

8. Compare these details in Zechariah 9:9, Psalm 118:26, Isaiah 56:7, Jeremiah 7:11 and Psalm 8:2 with Matthew 21:1-17
9. What misconception did some people have about the Messiah?
     a. Peter in Matthew Matthew 16:21-23
     b. General public, in John 12:30-34

     How do the following Old Testament prophecies refute these misconceptions about the Messiah?
     a. Isaiah 53:7-10
     b. Daniel 9:26a

10. What prophecies were fulfilled at Jesus' death?

     a. John 19:23, 24
     b. John 19:28, 29
     c. John 19:33-37

Based on this lesson, WHO IS THIS MAN?

(To be continued February 13)

Today I am thankful for water.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

MUM: "There will be wonderful surprises!"

For Barbara Leonard Reynolds, writer, Quaker, peace activist and educator, humanitarian and all around serious person, see last year's blog, His Scribe, linked above, and look for any posts with "MUM" in the subject heading

    For years I have been collecting notes and anecdotes about my mother, hoping to someday write a book about her. But when I think of putting them in some kind of order I realize it wouldn't be appropriate to organize Mum's life. That's not how she lived. One Japanese man struggled to describe her in his broken English: "Barbara is--very scattered brain--very hard to pin."
     She changed plans so often she just called them "c's of p's."
     Well into my first marriage (i.e., between 1967 and her homegoing in 1990), she and I were in a waiting room somewhere, idly taking a quiz in a magazine. As we both expected, the quiz showed she liked spontaneity. But she was surprised when mine showed I liked to have things planned ahead of time.
     "You're like this?" she asked in amazement. "I thought it was just Rick and you were adapting to him." It occurred to me even then that perhaps I had chosen answers that showed me less spontaneous than I really am just to counter balance Mum.
     Another time when she was tired she vowed she would "buy a little piece of land somewhere and just sit on it." In one ten-year period she'd lived in an apartment, being a mother to a Vietnamese refugee and her three children, had house sat for friends spending a year overseas, provided live-in companionship for an elderly lady named Emma and been live-in nanny to a little girl named Allison, whose playroom was called Allison Wonderland. I'm sure there are others I've forgotten.
     I remembered as a child, when we sailed around the world, Mum had made lifelong friends and put down roots wherever we went. She mourned departures.                     
     "Why do you choose such a hectic life--" I asked, "--so many c's of p's?"
     "I don't think I do," she said carefully. "I think God chooses it for me."
     She finally bought an own-your-own apartment in Long Beach, California, which she shared with Miracle, a Scotty, and a six-toed cat named Marmalade who rode around on her shoulder and hissed at everyone else.
     Her motto, by a Mormon Elder Marion D. Hanks, was, "To believe in God is to know that all the rules will be fair--and there will be wonderful surprises!"

Today I am thankful for blues--sky blue, French blue, robin's egg blue, aqua, teal. You name it.

Friday, February 11, 2011

MUM and her electronic typewriter

From my journal, Feb. 3, 1986    
     Mum spent almost $500 on herself! She bought an electronic typewriter. I went down to help her figure out how to use it. After we booted it up, she was afraid it would damage the memory card to have it in the machine while we weren't using it so she pulled it out. All the instructions warn not to pull out the memory card while the machine is on.
     I knew right away the $45 card could be shot. I turned off the typewriter, inserted the card, turned it on again, tried to name, store and retrieve files. Nothing.
     So today she carried typewriter-cum-memory card from her apartment in downtown Long Beach to her (current) car to take it in and see if anything was damaged. She and her dog Miracle were three blocks from home before she realized she had left the typewriter sitting on the curb. By the time she drove back, of course, it was gone.
     She was in a dither the rest of the day--notified police, typewriter shops, pawn shops, the local newspaper. She was so mad at herself.
     I had to laugh. She's had the thing a week and she's already wiped out the memory card and lost the typewriter. Either mistake could have happened to anyone--but they both would have to happen to Mum.
     "You didn't really want a high-tech typewriter anyway," I said.
     "I loved that typewriter," she mourned.

Feb. 11, 1986
     After three days of fasting and prayer, Mum wrote off her typewriter and has gone on with her life. Two Japanese journalists who were coming to write a book with her arrived with 20 ribbons for her no-longer-extant machine.
     Mum picked up the two at LAX. She had to go by bus because her car was being fixed so I drove her to the bus stop. Before we left her apartment I pointed out that one of her burners was on, with an empty kettle sitting on it, and she set her purse down on a chair to go turn the burner off and then didn't know where she'd left her purse. We went outside and she had to drop something off at the apartment building next door. Miracle, who was to come with us, trotted after her. Mum came back, Miracle didn't. Mum was getting into the car when I reminded her about the dog.
     At the bus stop she talked about rose cuttings while I kept a nervous eye out for thugs and pickpockets--despite having her purse stolen twice, she had an open purse over her arm and was totally oblivious to the men lounging nearby. How the Lord does look after her! I guess in part He uses others in her life--like me--to do the surveillance for her.

April 11, 1986
     The latest on Mum's typewriter. After the first one was stolen, she bought a cheaper model but she was already spoiled by the delay feature, enabling her to correct a line of text before it is typed onto the paper, so she traded up to another machine of the original model.
     She was pecking along on it when she smelled burning. The words on the screen were just what she had typed but when she looked at what was showing up on the paper, she saw a page full of gobbledegook--random letters, numbers and punctuation marks. She pulled the plug right away and took it back to the store. It's still on warranty so the salesman promised to fix it but (of course) the computer people there all said they had never seen anything like this problem before.
     They should have seen Mum and the exploding wheat germ.

Today I am thankful for family.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

MUM: She never learned

     Mum never seems to learn from experience, like other people.
     Most women who have to walk along the streets of Los Angeles try not to do so at night. They walk briskly, alert to their environment, their purse clutched tightly under one arm. They hold their car keys in their hand as they were taught in self-defense class, with one key inserted between two fingers to serve as a weapon if necessary.
     Mum walks anywhere anytime. She may be out late at a Bible study, so when she gets back to her apartment all the parking spaces along her street are filled and she may have to park blocks away and walk back.
     She walks briskly, totally unaware of her environment, her purse and several plastic sacks of donations to a garage sale or thrift shop dangling from her arm. If she passes a man lounging against a building or a transient sitting cross-legged on the sidewalk, she gives them a vague smile.
     If she hadn't been mugged, violently, so several bones were broken as her purse was stolen, one could say, "She doesn't know any better." Assault has a way of educating the rest of us. Pain makes us fearful and theft makes us angry and invasion sharpens our senses so we can never again park where we were attacked or note a person who resembles our perpetrator without becoming guarded and uneasy.
     I have never seen this tendency in Mum. Con men have confused her out of money from the church coffers when they came in off the street and asked for change. Women who posed as down-and-outers have used her sympathy to "borrow" money which they pass on to shadowy boyfriends in the wings. She never learns.
     She never lets a bad experience harden her or teach her suspicion or prejudice or become an excuse for not meeting the next--maybe legitimate--need to come along. I don't think she even consciously works to overcome the natural withdrawal the rest of us feel when betrayed or used or insulted. Each experience is separate. Each person is unique to her.
     "'Wise as a serpent!'" I keep telling her. "You've got 'harmless as a dove' down pat. Now you need to work on being 'wise as a serpent.'"
     But I know it's useless.
     I could understand how a 71-year old woman could be naive if she had led a sheltered life, in the bosom of her family and youth group. I could understand how a large, powerful, assertive woman, armed with muscle and anger, could walk where she pleased without fear and dare the muggers to make her day. I could understand how a woman who is thick-skinned and impervious to slights and abuse could "take it" day after day.
     But by what short circuit in her emotional make-up, by what missing chromosome in her DNA is Mum deeply sensitive without learning from experience how risky it is to open up to strangers on a bus, to take in homeless women, to reach out to hurting men? What is it that makes her rise from betrayal to answer the door again? To seek out another refugee, still exhausted from the process of  getting the last one integrated into society? To take on another motherless young person and build faith and self-confidence into her over the months?
     "I've done my share," she is supposed to say. Like the rest of us, she is supposed to weary and become disillusioned by ingratitude and insatiable demands. "I'll toss off a token get-well card or a very small donation now and then--or even drive her one way if it isn't too far and if it's only this once. But it's really someone else's turn."
     What is it that prevents her from learning not to care?

(Written in 1986.)

Today I am thankful for memories.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Mum's Anatomy

     My mother had her own way of describing our anatomy when we were little. Eyes were peepers. If they were dark eyes, especially if they were on children, she'd refer to them as "shoebutton eyes"--even though I'm sure she had never had to button up her shoes any more than we had.
     Our ears were always "shell pink ears," which I imagine is some literary allusion. She would whisper her best secrets into our shell pink ears.
     There was a certain place she liked to kiss which would make us giggle. She called it our "gubby." I'm not sure why. I asked Tim and Ted whether the gubby is the back of the neck or the base of it. The base of the neck makes more sense to me but I'm pretty sure it was the back.
     Tim says it's the side: "She'd nuzzle you in the piece of neck between your cheek and your shoulder from behind and you'd oonch around with your jaw and your inner shoulder and sort of pretend resistance, it's not just anatomical, it's a whole behavior, like Peekaboo.  I bet Mbuti have gubbies."
     When we choked while eating, instead of saying we had swallowed something "the wrong way," she'd say it "went down our Sunday throat." I don't remember what she said if we choked on Sunday.
     Our hearts had cockles which could warmed or pleased.
     Hands were "hannypankers." It took Jerry to break it to me that that word isn't German. I always thought it was. When she wanted us to spread our fingers, maybe so she could wash the jam off them, she would tell us to "make starfish."
     Then of course the elbow was our "funny bone" and our littlest fingers were our pinkies.
     The parts of our anatomy all came into play when she gave us a bath. She had us close our peepers while she washed our shell pink ears, had us make starfish so she could scrub our pinkies and when she had scrubbed us all over she said we were wearing our "soapy suit."
     When we were all clean she would reward us with a kiss in our gubby.

Today I am thankful for the 45 years I had with my mother. She left this life on February 11, 1990. She would have been 96 this year.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Update from Laria (now 12)

Hello. I saw the blog about me you posted on the internet today. By the way, that time I taped feathers on myself and ran around the house I was very disappointed afterward because someone (I forgot if it was Mama or Papa) told me that birds have hollow bones and that I couldn't fly no matter how fast I ran. I knew it would take a couple of years to figure out how to make my bones so that I could fly.

I remember that you wanted to know what I am interested in these days. I like math, science (especially physics) and art. I am in algebra and I like it, but I find more complicated concepts like infinity and imaginary numbers more. Today I said that infinity isn't one number. It's going on forever but not all infinities are the same because if you have 2+2+2 forever the answer will be infinity but if it's 4+4+4 forever it will be a "greater" infinity. It's like a linear equation, that goes on forever in both ways. It really depends on the slope to say how big the infinity is even though they are all infinity. I've actually been trying to say that for most of my life, but I didn't know about graphs and linear equations to explain it.

I am in a nation-wide contest for NASA about making a water-purification system. It is very fun, and my group has created an effective distillation system and filter. Now it's mostly about putting it together and testing the results.

I still keep thinking about some of the things I thought about when i was little, like every moment running away and how everyone thinks they are the only "I". It gets more and more complicated, though, the more I think about it.

LARIA : The "I's" of Laria are upon us (2 of 2)

Psychology and Dream Interpretation.
    3-27-02 An example of Laria's dreams at the age of 3: "I dreamt that Papa and I went for a walk. He carried a remote control that made all the trees grow so tall, the houses spring colors, and all the weird little creatures living inside (the remote) jump out into reality."
     4-3-02 (Laria would turn four on the 28th.) Sing-yi writes, "Today I told Laria about Freud, dreams, psychoanalysis. About doctors not of the physical body but of the human heart. That's what psychologists are called in Chinese--doctors of the heart. I told her I had studied to be a clinical psychologist. Like Freud. I interpreted one of her dreams, about a tiny bus flying up to the skies to fool around with cassette tapes there: [it was] her little brother Vyron crawling into the living room to mess around with our tapes (this being a daily obsession with him just because he has been forbidden to do so).
     4-22-02 (Laria was still six days short of her fourth birthday)
     Laria: I don't know if it's because of Papa's DNA or what, or maybe it's just him, but every time he gives me a present he doesn't wrap it first.

 Laria dancing (4 years, 3 months).
Costume and choreography by Laria.
     Laria: Why does every "now" turn into "just now"? Why does it have to always, always keep becoming "before"?
     Sing-yi: You don't want the present to turn into the past?
     Laria: I don't like it always running away like that.
     8-29-02 (4 years, 4 months) Ted: A couple of days ago Laria and her dolls were holding an extensive birthday party. I asked whose, and Laria said it was her second birthday. I told her that I distinctly remembered already giving her a second birthday party, and she said, "But I get two." She thought about it a moment and added, "And four fourth birthdays, and ten tenth birthdays, and infinity infinitieth birthdays. . ."
     (So, asked her dad, where are the other 63 birthdays I've got coming this year, huh?)

     3-4-03 (4 years, 10 months)
     Laria: Mama, God just informed me that yesterdays are today's secrets.
     (When told this, Ted asked Laria how the information arrived, by letter, e-mail, phone--? She said, "Words in my ear." "Did God sound like a man or a woman?" She answered right off, "Like a lion!" NOTE: This was before she knew about Aslan.)

Philosophy: the self.
     4-17-03 (Eleven days before her 5th birthday) The subject heading of Ted's letter is 'The ''I's" of Laria are upon us.'

     Laria: Mama, I've been thinking about something for a very long time. I keep wondering why I am "I," and I'm not you, or somebody else. Why is that? I've really been thinking about that. I don't quite know how to say this right, but I feel that I am the world's "I," even though I know that everybody else feels and thinks that they are "I" too. But my heart tells me that I am the world's only "I."

Today I'm thankful for Laria, designed in the image of her creative Father.