Friday, December 23, 2011

So Much More

“Stay tuned for our upcoming segment on ‘Getting to the Heart of Christmas’.” Thus chirped one of the carefully coiffed TV anchor/hostesses on a popular breakfast talk show this morning.

Of course, since this was a secular, network program, I had no illusions that anything remotely related to the “heart of Christmas” would ensue. The closest mainstream media ever chooses to get is using the word “Christmas,” and even then, it is doubtful that any passing thought is given to the derivation of the word. That, of course, is “Christ” and “mass,” two terms considered politically incorrect unless the second is used in the context of physics.

What followed was a story about families who had lost virtually all but their lives in a ravenous wildfire near Austin, Texas four months ago that apparently burned for 35 days. Featured were accounts of two families, one with four children whose belongings were literally reduced to cinders, including one young daughter’s favorite Barbie doll. The second story had to do, somewhat ironically, with one of the firefighters who had fought the blaze and yet also lost all but his wife, baby and a single photo album. Tragic stories, under any circumstances, but somehow especially so at Christmastime…which, of course, is about the celebration of families brought together as a seasonal tradition.

Or is it?

Cut to the next scene as a pleasant reporter, donning a Santa hat, recapped the story briefly with the two families before gleefully leading them through a warehouse door to a waiting crowd of festive WalMart employees standing amidst mounds of wrapped presents and glittering trees. The camera zoomed in on several astonished faces, as the reporter explained that what we were seeing was truly “the heart of Christmas.”

No mistake, it is truly heartening to see those who have suffered loss not only cared about but provided for. The camera panned and then zoomed in on the little girl who had lost her doll as the reporter guided her to a brand new Barbie doll, just for her. As a smile broke out and she pumped her small fist in delight, the reporter was clearly moved and declared “this is really the heart of Christmas!” And now back to you in the studio.

But…this is only part of the story, and a comparatively minor, mortal part at that. Whether they realize it or not, all people inhabit two worlds, one mortal and one eternal; and this story did not scratch the surface of the heart of Christmas.

What am I talking about?

Merely the fact that we are eternal beings, wrought in the image of God, and for whom mortal life is an important way station, but not the destination. Unpopular concept, that. But you have to reckon with it if you want to come anywhere near the real heart of Christmas.

Is this a time of year when extra focus is placed on acts of kindness and compassion? Without a doubt. But there’s a reason for this, and it is rooted in the historicity of Christmas.

Perhaps we need to look as far back as “A Charlie Brown Christmas” to find an example in popular media that told the truth about Christmas. Near the end of this animated classic, Linus Van Pelt volunteers to tell Charlie Brown what Christmas is all about by taking the stage in his shepherd garb and simply, matter-of-factly, reciting a passage from Luke 2. This little scene stands out in greater relief than ever now, not only because of its simple audacity in telling the truth, but also because we are hard pressed to find anything like it in the maelstrom that is today’s media.

Curiously, I don’t recall, either as a child first watching this, or as an adult, ever being aware of any rejection of this simple message. It was an interesting moment in a cartoon, easily passed over these days as a quaint, vintage footnote.

Ah, but there’s so much more for the seeker of truth. The heart of Christmas is not doing good deeds for strangers, no matter how heartwarming. Encouraging as these moments are they are byproducts several concepts removed from the bedrock reality that Christmas is, at heart, a rescue mission.

It is the historical account of the one, true God condescending to take on mortal flesh and leave eternity and enter time for the express purpose of testifying to the truth of sin and providing a path of redemption. Of course, grasping this transcendent fact does not lend itself to five minute video segments. Nor is it a mere heartwarming video vignette to get our day off to a nice start before we go about our usual business.

Getting to the heart of Christmas requires acknowledging and owning the uncomfortable truth of our imperfection and helplessness to help ourselves; and the devastating consequences that indubitably follow if that’s the end of our story.

The heart of Christmas is the incredible good news that we can have what we REALLY need and escape the judgment we deserve. Our destiny can be an eternal future with our Maker; and that is So Much More than a five minute feel-good story.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Knowing Now

I've just read two stories [which seem to be identical, although credited to two different writers] announcing the death of Christopher Hitchens, a British born ex-patriot who made his home in the US and his career as a writer and pundit with a lacerating pen.

Although famous on many fronts, Mr. Hitchens is probably best known as a brilliant and caustic atheist who bravely, or perhaps foolishly--depending on your point of view--stared his own mortality in the face, refusing to capitulate in any way to the concept of faith. I saw a TV interview with him when his cancer was already quite advanced; when asked about his position on faith and the afterlife, he said he appreciated the sincere prayers of Christians who had told him they were praying for him, but he completely discounted the efficacy of prayer or even the existence of the God to whom these prayers were directed.

"There will be no death bed conversion," he declared, echoing the late Carl Sagan.
"If you hear accounts stating otherwise,do not credit them. They will not be true."

Apart form his undeniably great intellect and talent as a writer, I find it rather stunning to learn of someone so very exercised and vociferous about atheism and hatred for religion of all sorts. The story referenced in the link above is worth reading if only to see some of his more outrageously memorable quotes; here are a few,as they appear in today's London Daily Mail:

'A lying, thieving Albanian dwarf' - his description of Mother Teresa

'The Missionary Position' - the title of the book he wrote about her

'The Bible may, indeed does, contain a warrant for trafficking in humans, for ethnic cleansing, for slavery, for bride-price, and for indiscriminate massacre, but we are not bound by any of it because it was put together by crude, uncultured human mammals'

So there! If nothing else, he is an exemplar of untrammeled intellectual freedom. And perhaps, now that his spirit has departed the realm of mortality and passed into eternity, he better understands the Source of the freedom he enjoyed in life, and which he will never know again.

It's not often that someone dies and one can know, incontrovertibly, about his or her eternal destiny. But Christopher Hitchens would appear to be one of the exceptions. I say this with no satisfaction. As a Bible believer, I accept the truth and descriptions of the only two destinations we face as eternal beings. No one deserves to be in hell, an actual place, more than any other person who dies rejecting Christ. Some, like Hitchens, are just louder and more vociferous about their rebellion.

Having been told once by a therapist to "believe the behavior" of others while trying to understand them, I've found it curious to see just how adamant Mr. Hitchens was in his atheism. Any time someone devotes considerable energy and passion to promoting an idea, it's a sure bet they take it seriously. When the object of such passion is to DENY something, it seems axiomatic that they consider that object to be powerful and, possibly, threatening.

If it's simple nonsense, which he reportedly disdained, why bother with it at all? The obvious answer is, as he himself affirmed, that religion is an undeniable force in society, throughout human history, and geography. He found it troublesome in the extreme that so many have, allegedly, been so duped by so pervasive and pernicious a concept as religion, in all its forms. Thus, it apparently was a significant aim of his life to denounce it emphatically and often, not only in print but also in live debates.

A salient irony, is that his own brother, Peter Hitchens, is a professing Christian.

I find it nearly admirable, yet certainly sad, that a mortal human being can be so very sure that there is no supernatural or spiritual dimension to life at all. How does he know? Most likely, he would ask me just how do I claim to know.

But the certainty is that this is a singular and mutually exclusive case of truth claims. Both cannot be right.

Mr. Hitchens has stepped over the threshold, and now he knows for sure.

Read more:

Friday, December 9, 2011

Holiday Correspondence

Yesterday my e-mail inbox contained a cute 'elf' animated greeting from a friend. Today, this same inbox brings unhappy tidings, courtesty of
Excerpt follows:

"Macy's has fired a Christian woman for refusing to violate her religious beliefs. Her offense? She prevented a man dressed as a woman from entering the women's dressing room.

According to Liberty Counsel, Natalie Johnson says she saw the young man walk out of the women's fitting room and politely told him that he could not go back in because it was for women only. The cross-dressing young man claimed that he is a "female." Johnson said that he was wearing make-up and girl's clothing, but clearly he was a male. The cross-dresser was accompanied by five other individuals.

The group argued with expletives that Macy's is LGBT-friendly, to which Johnson replied that Macy's is also non-discriminatory toward religion, and that it would go against her religious beliefs to lie that he was a woman or compromise with homosexuality. The group then demanded to speak with a manager.

Johnson's boss referred her to Macy's LGBT policy which allows "transgender" people to change in any dressing room they want.

The manager demanded that she comply with the LGBT policies or lose her job. Johnson refused to go against her sincerely held religious beliefs and was terminated from her job.

Macy's has essentially opened women's dressing rooms to every man. The LGBT agenda has become the theater of the absurd.


Email Macy's President Terry Lundgren and urge him to immediately apologize to Natalie, reinstate her position with Macy's and put safeguards in place to protect women customers from men who would enter their dressing areas.

IMPORTANT! Personally call Macy's headquarters at 513-579-7000 and express your outrage at this injustice to female employees and customers.

Other numbers to call:

Jim Sluzewski, Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications - 513-579-7764
Macy's Media Relations - Julie Strider, 646-429-5213

Monica Cole, Director"

Having just spent a pleasant several hours with a friend at Macy's in the Chicago Loop on Sunday, this was not a welcome bulletin. I'm including the response I sent below, just to be "on the record", as we used to say back in J-school.

Dear President Lundgren:

This past Sunday I enjoyed a wonderful few hours shopping with a friend at your Chicago State Street Macy’s location, a site I had long enjoyed as a resident growing up in the northwest Chicago suburbs. I was one of many loyal shoppers, and a former Marshall Field’s Woodfield employee, who was saddened by the passing of the Field’s era, but who continues to happily shop Macy’s. In fact, I found some wonderful bargains this past Sunday at the downtown Macy’s. It was a great day.

Therefore, I was stunned and confused to receive an e-mail reporting that one of your employees has been fired for attempting to keep an allegedly transgendered male customer from re-entering the women’s fitting rooms. I include an excerpt of this account below:

“Macy's has fired a Christian woman for refusing to violate her religious beliefs. Her offense? She prevented a man dressed as a woman from entering the women's dressing room.

According to Liberty Counsel, Natalie Johnson says she saw the young man walk out of the women's fitting room and politely told him that he could not go back in because it was for women only. The cross-dressing young man claimed that he is a "female." Johnson said that he was wearing make-up and girl's clothing, but clearly he was a male. The cross-dresser was accompanied by five other individuals.
The group argued with expletives that Macy's is LGBT-friendly, to which Johnson replied that Macy's is also non-discriminatory toward religion, and that it would go against her religious beliefs to lie that he was a woman or compromise with homosexuality. The group then demanded to speak with a manager.

Johnson's boss referred her to Macy's LGBT policy which allows "transgender" people to change in any dressing room they want.”

The organization that forwarded this account included an e-mail template with which to communicate to you. However, this issue is important enough to me that I first wanted to ascertain directly from Macy’s whether this account is, in fact true; and, second, to take the trouble to communicate personally.

I sincerely hope that the reference to the Macy’s LGBT policy is inaccurate, but I count on you to give a truthful response. Should this report be true, I will be extremely disappointed, both by your treatment of your employee, Natalie Johnson, and by the direction of the relevant corporate policies that indicate Macy’s is forsaking the natural family customer base upon which Macy’s storied retail history has been built. If this is the ethos behind the Macy name, the ubiquitous red star logo, and the legendary Thanksgiving Day parade, I will be beyond disappointed.
Furthermore, I could not in good conscience continue to be a Macy’s customer and am willing to demonstrate this by mailing you my current Macy’s credit card, including the “Thanks for Sharing” sticker for the benefit program for which I just re-enrolled, to the address below:

Terry J. Lundgren, President
7 West Seventh Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202

I have just called both your Primary Phone: 513-579-7000 primary phone number, where my call was not answered, as well as your media relations representative, Julie Strider, who also was not available and whose voice mailbox was too full to accept my message.

I look forward to your prompt response and trust that the report I referenced above is a misunderstanding or misrepresentation. If not, you will be receiving my credit card and losing my business as long as the corporate policy referenced herein exists.

Kathleen Holliday
6537 Glen Abbey Drive
Loves Park, IL 61111

Sunday, September 11, 2011



I was at home, most likely in the kitchen of our previous house; we moved into this one in 2003. My older children were at school. The ages of all five on that date were 12, 10, 7, and 3, while the youngest was 10 months old. I was unaware that the world was changing until my husband called me from his office and told me, “I think we are under attack. Turn on the TV.”

Several minutes later, I was on the phone with a friend…we were both agape in our respective homes, monopolized by the real-time, raw footage playing before us on our TVs. I remember it was hard to think at all. Time seemed frozen. The kids were somewhere in the house, probably not far from me, but I wasn’t attending to them. Alina, now 17, remembers playing with her Madeline doll and not understanding why I didn’t seem to hear her.

“There’s goes the second tower,” I remember Susan saying on the phone. Sure enough, as if in suspended animation, the by-now-inevitable implosion played across the screen.

I remember being at work when the Challenger shuttle blew up in the late 1980s. I remember being sent home from school early in first grade when President Kennedy was shot dead. But this was a different order of magnitude.


10:37 p.m.
My children are 22, 20, 17, 13, and 10. The oldest is out with a friend, the second is asleep in preparation for his 5am start time for work in the morning. The third is collecting her school work for the start of a new week tomorrow. The fourth and fifth are talking about what it must have been like 10 years ago, when she was 1 and he was 3, wondering why Mom was riveted to the TV screen. Last night, we were with my parents and 25 others, celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary. A decade earlier, we were at the same restaurant celebrating their 50th.

Tonight, my husband and I have lately returned from a cookout with an adult growth group from our church. Minutes ago, I finished grading Cecily’s Easy Grammar homework and entered her weekly average score on her Grade Logue.

This morning I was at church, listening as a man on the platform read out the speech that had been given by President George W. Bush in the aftermath 10 years ago. The image of the American flag, and various images from 9-11-01 were projected on the walls, succeeded some minutes later by the hymn and praise chorus lyrics we sing Sunday by Sunday. The principles expounded in the sermon that followed were true 10 years ago and are true today. They will always be true because they are transcendent and timeless.

But our collective consciousness is irretrievably altered, and in a way without precedent.


• I was impressed by the immensity of the new 9-11 memorial waterfall captured in broadcast and internet coverage. President and Mrs. Obama, and former President and Mrs. Bush looked tiny in comparison.

• With some surprise, I listened and watched President Obama read Psalm 46 at the remembrance ceremony at the Pentagon this morning. That was part of this morning’s reality. Less than a year ago, and probably again next week, there will be renewed babble about the (im)propriety of building a Muslim “community center” several hundred feet from Ground Zero.

• I was actually awed as I listened to Vice President Biden speak about the losses suffered, and the smelted resolve of Americans as a result of the 9-11 attacks. Rarely have I seen or heard a message, on any topic, put across with so much passion, power, eloquence, and strength under control. It changed my opinion of him.

• It was unexpected to me to see shots from around the world showing people of other nations paying tribute to the losses suffered by the US that day. I remember one photo caption described how a fire brigade from Clerkenwell, somewhere in London, stood at attention…not much more than a dozen, but they all stood straight and somber.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Get a Clue

I have just looked at a published photograph, and I am angry. I'm not 'teed off;' I'm mad, and I take exception to the point of view that has provoked my wrath.

The photo I refer to appears in roughly the middle of the September 10, 2011 edition of WORLD magazine, which arrived in my mailbox today. I have been a faithful WORLD subscriber for more than 15 years and was grateful to discover it after I could no longer stomach the flagrant bias of my previous news source, Newseek. So, one of the the lenses through which I digest news of the day is the editorial perspective of WORLD. Measured against the only truly inviolable plumb line, Scripture, I have never known of WORLD to steer me wrong. It's a trusted source of mine.

The cover story, and much of the internal copy, is devoted to the tenth anniversary of 9/11...a milestone that gives me pause. But my reaction to a two-page photo of one of the unthinkable explosions left me agape.

It's not that I hadn't seen similar images before. But it's been a while. It's too psychologically painful, and probably impossible, to sustain 'top of mind awareness' of such horrors, ten years on.

But my ire is provoked not by the fiery images of the attacks, nor even by the news that more than 1,000 victims still have not been identified by physical remains.

No, what I'm mad about is the still-trumpeted view, held by many--including one of my own sons--that "9/11 was an inside job." Even last night, in a media stupor, I scanned through a dozen or so online comments purporting to prove that the whole catastrophe was orchestrated by the US government and the Bush administration.

I used to scornfully dismiss such blatherers as kindred spirits to those who doubt the veracity of the Holocaust or Neil Armstrong's moonwalk. The United States is held in thrall by demented despots who would dare to dream up and effect profound terror. Right.

But now it's 10 years later and three--almost four--Arab countries in the grip of bona fide tyrants have been turned upside down. If memory serves, Saddam Hussein was not only captured and hanged, but eyewitnesses reported that the force of the drop actually caused him to be decapitated.

Let's not forget Tunisia. sums their recent history up as follows: "The country was governed by the authoritarian regime of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali from 1987 to 2011 before he fled during the Tunisian revolution. Tunisia,... had suffered corruption benefiting the former president's family.[7]"

Also figuring prominently in the so-called Arab Spring is the dethroning of long-time Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The last image I saw of him showed him confined to a hospital bed, within a fenced cell inside an Egyptian courtroom. How far they fall.

And, perhaps before the end of this week, Moammar Gadaffi, Libya's chest-pounding megalomaniac, may well be captured.

I enumerate these erstwhile heads of state as examples of those who not only might have, but actually did tyrannise and terrorize their own citizens.

No matter what your politics are, I am confident to say that no such character has ever occupied the White House. Have they all been paragons of statesmanship? Clearly not. Has every president been known for foibles and stood on feet of clay? Without a doubt.

But it is heinous to me that many give credence to the idea that 9/11 was a US government-driven catastrophe. Think about it. The United States, for all its grave ills and declensions, is still the singular nation to which more people flee than any other. The history, presence, and ethos of America do not support the idea of a government bent on self-destruction. Some have asserted that hatred and jealousy of the US was one of the factors prompting the 9/11 attacks. How could such motives be imputed to those who govern this country and already enjoy its undeniable blessings?

I could go on, but allow me to conclude with another observation that should be axiomatic. Were it true that the US government, or even rogue factions within the government, was behind the 9/11 terror, this nation would be a very different one than it is now. Terrorists terrorize, and while the current US domestic scene today is troubled with weather disasters, it is not quailing in the grip of tyranny.

Satan never succeeds so easily in his deception than when mankind willfully denies pervasive truth.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Memorial Teaching Opportunities

I’ve said it before and hope it bears repeating: nothing focuses perspective on what’s important more than a funeral. First, it’s incontrovertible proof of everyone’s mortality. Second, if done well, a memorial service clears away the irrelevant components of life down here and shows us what’s what. Or at least that should be an expected result. The responsibility of having eyes to see and ears to hear, of course, lies with each individual.

The service I’ve just returned from was, indeed, the celebration of a life well lived. The gentleman so honored was not perfect, nor did he pretend to be. But he knew Who was and had rested his case with Christ for more than 65 years. That single decision opened the door for all the precious virtue, honor, duty, dignity, compassion, sacrifice, and love that characterized his life in the intervening decades. His children and extended family, and friends testified to that clearly.

And isn’t that what we all want, when we’ve reached the point of departure? In our secret hearts, don’t we hope that our life will have mattered, that we will have been a positive influence on at least a few others…not only that they will miss us, but that they will be better from having had us in their lives?

Many years ago now, I was given a book of children’s prayers on the occasion of my oldest child’s birth. It was a nicely illustrated, dust-jacketed little volume, but I set it aside rather than read it to my little son. The reason was that certain pages of this sweet little book lied. And I know that lies come from a place that I don’t want to have represented in my home. Adjacent to adorable pictures of wooly sheep and the occasional verse from Psalms were innocuous-sounding epithets like this: “All roads lead to heaven.” Carefully detailed drawings of little children attired in costumes from around the world ascended into a doorway above the copy. So cute, was it, that I questioned whether I was being ridiculous or mean-spirited in my balking.

But, if Truth is true, lies cannot be. Let’s be honest—which means adhering to what is true. Lies are maliciously motivated, deceitful grasps at the heels of eternal beings. All roads don’t lead to heaven. Only one does.

I maintain that had the man celebrated today not followed Christ, this ceremony would have been very different, if it happened at all. Unless they have some vested interest in perjuring themselves before others, most people will not say things about others—particularly at a funeral—that they don’t know to be true. Why would you?

I’ve been to funeral services for both believers and non-believers, and they have little in common other than acknowledging the departure of the deceased.

Funerals for people devoid of commitment to Christ are earth-rooted. They may be ‘beautiful services,’ but that doesn’t last much beyond the exit door. It’s often considered “a shame” that the deceased is gone, but the observations tend to stop there.

What’s the truth? The truth is that the spirit, the essence of that person, is continuing on in the spiritual realm…and this reality, by the way, has only two destinations. All the greeting card-hopes and angry assertions to the contrary can’t change the reality. Either “to die is gain,” as Paul reminds us [Phil. 1:21], and “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord,” [2 Cor. 5:8] or there awaits the pain of unceasing awareness that grace was rejected and the penalty of agony is deserved.

There are those who have said this is just ‘my religion’ talking. There’s often little value in challenging this viewpoint.

But I find it interesting to note the latent, undeniable testimony of remembrance services. Just as most human hearts retain a vestige of the innate knowledge of good and evil, so do most gatherings of remembrance subtly reveal this. It seems to me that if the life of the deceased did not acknowledge this, there is little evidence of hope in the farewell service.

Hope is forward-looking. And only one path triumphantly passes through the doors of mortality because only one faith has a God that defeated death. I’ve never had occasion to go to a Hindu, Muslim or other non-Judeo Christian memorial service. But I’ve attended many nominally ‘christian’ or faith-less services. There’s a difference. And it doesn’t only have to do with the speakers or order of service. In the absence of a firm hope, there is emptiness.

Several years ago, when the war in Iraq was still in full fury, I read an article in WORLD magazine about Dover Air Force Base. This installation bears a special burden because the bodies of soldiers killed in combat arrive here before being turned over to families. A doctor interviewed recalled the peculiar rigors of his position: his job was to study the broken remains of young people killed in violent circumstance…day in and day out. But he also testified that there was an enormous difference that he could not help but notice in family members who came to claim their dead. Those with a foundation of faith “do much better” than those without. I don’t think that is a random observation.

Those who deny the spiritual dimension of mortal life will not see the evidence no matter how much it surrounds them. Closed eyes don’t see. But when this mortal life ends, it opens into a new reality, and the eyelids must be pried apart.

I recall hearing a radio news report on the passing of renowned astronomist Carl Sagan whose later life seemed dedicated to the assertion that all there is of life is empirically known, and that the earth we inhabit is not a created wonder but, instead, a ‘pale blue dot’ as one of his book titles has it. At his death, his wife reportedly asserted that Sagan had met death remaining true to his convictions. “There was no deathbed conversion or religious experience.”

Similarly, noted speaker and author Christopher Hitchens, battling terminal cancer, is aware that his personal end is imminent. Knowing this, he has been quoted as saying he appreciates the well wishes and even the prayers of others. But he remains steadfastly confident in his refusal to bow his knee. I watched a recent TV interview where he plainly told the interviewer that, should there be reports of him “coming to God” as his life comes to a close, “it will not be true. Do not credit such accounts.” If only his opinion was capable of shaping ultimate reality. But it is not.

If the testimony of the natural world, the impact of Christianity on world history, or the lives of serious Christians are not enough to convince you, maybe you need to become a student of funerals.

I find they provide persuasive teachable moments.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Little Man

My first indication that my youngest son had awakened this morning was feeling his strong young arms around my shoulders as I sat at this keyboard. He has always been affectionate, even before he could stand on his own.

The years have sped by, and he does much more than stand on his own. I am keenly aware that this year, at age 13 and a half, he will be deciding (even if subconsciously) what kind of person he actually will be. Will the many prayers and moments of teaching (as well as the teachable moments I didn't take advantage of) be evident?

But sons and daughters aren't like recipes that pop out of the oven as successes or failures. There are many indications and opportunities for course correction along the journey, if only we pay attention.

What I've noticed, though, is that this parenting enterprise is a collaborative effort: God is always there with His comprehensive love and wisdom; John is there, transforming before my eyes; the third component? That would be me, the very imperfect mom who tries to show up but doesn't always make it. Sometimes I am AWOL; or too tired, too discouraged, or simply not paying attention.

This morning's interchange was a little too obvious to miss, though:

Miss Cee: Mom! Johnny thinks he can go to Eli's house to play just because I'm going there, but I asked you and HE didn't!!!

John: [overheard, sotto voce] *If you can go, so can I!*

But, no, he can't. How quickly he has forgotten the instruction--repeated less than 24 hours ago--that permission must first be asked for and granted. Well, that's OK for little sisters but, hey, he's Officially A Teenager.

But, not quite independent, and clearly still under authority, as is demonstrated by the fact that he is not yet fully independent. Time for Mom to suit up and boldly stride into the fray.

I am met by cold eyes and a jutting, still-beardless chin. Must I really devote ten minutes and more emotional energy to report for duty again? But the truths I'm about to remind John of apply to me as well: we are all under authority; we don't own our own lives; God created us, and our lives are His if we call ourselves His children, and--make no mistake, my son--you also will stand before Him and give account of yourself.

But, right now, submitting to God still involves submitting to your parents. Not cool, just true.

So we talk about privileges and freedoms, choices and character. Do you understand what I'm telling you? Tell me what you understand. At this juncture, as so many times before, I look at his face and try to read his attitude. I remind him the choice is his: finish his chores or sit on his bed for an hour.

Minutes later, I hear the rhythmic hum of the vacuum in his room. Then, I hear the front door open and slam shut. Wait a minute--

But I look out the window and see him, unbidden, take out a bag for recycling pick up. He walks slowly back in the door. Our eyes meet, and I tell him he is free to go to Eli's house now.

I haven't seen him run this fast--in flip flops yet!-- in a while.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Only One Atonement


From time to time, I dip my figurative toe into the maelstrom of mainstream media to "take the temperature" of society. Often this proves to be too dispiriting or distasteful to take note of here. But today's news story about the life prison term--+ 20 years, for good measure--that was handed down to delusional paedophile and fake spiritual prophet Warren Jeffs bears a comment.


Well, perhaps two comments.

First, as one who likes to find a silver lining when I can, I applaud the fact that this manipulated and grossly manipulative man has received swift and, hopefully, lifelong justice. I'm sure his incarceration will be salutary for the many young females he preyed upon.

Second, although we can only expect lies from liars, and deception from the deceived, I must take special exception here. Not to exonerate, but to point out two particularly heinous and twisted falsehoods declaimed by Jeffs.

I will not detail the heartbreaking testimony reportedly heard in court over the past several days, some of which I would characterize as unspeakable. I choose to stand firmly on the words of Christ Himself, Who cautioned that those who lead little ones astray would be better off having millstones provided, [the definitive anti-flotation device] before being cast into the sea.

People who fail to appreciate the veracity of Scripture pass these pronouncements off as nonsensical metaphors, at best. This is not the case. Even Warren Jeffs will not want to be in his own shoes when he must take his turn before the Lord in judgment.

Words are powerful. This is self-evident. None of our words are spoken outside the knowledge of God. Of how much more import are the words of a leader, self-appointed or otherwise? Thus it is, to me, breathtaking that this man would instruct young girls that they would be 'rejected by God' should they fail to participate in 'heavenly sessions' of sexual intimacy with him, often before note-taking onlookers. I couldn't make this stuff up.

Since there is nothing new under the sun, I chalk this up as merely an updated version of the base sexual worship practices of pagan peoples, mentioned in both the Old and New Testaments, as well as being evidenced in various anthropological records and artifacts from around the world. Some records of early Canaanite practices, I've heard, are so base that special permission must be secured to even see them.

But to have the temerity to speak for God and threaten young women with His rejection? Apparently, Jeffs was too foolish, deluded, or seared to tremble when he spoke such things. But, he'll understand, ultimately.

However, in my view, his second reported comment is worse. According to today's London Daily Mail, "In a cruel irony, the girls were encouraged [to engage in sexual rites] by Jeffs by being told their compliance would help atone for the sins of their community." [Emphasis mine]

Say what?

Evidently he explained by being sexually victimized, his young "wives", some younger than 16, would help ATONE for communal sins. Again, words matter. Very few words matter as much as the word "atone." This profoundly powerful word refers to the singular and eternity-changing work of Jesus on the cross; that His shed blood has been utterly efficacious to atone for [or make us "at one" with God] for the sin of mankind.

On this side of the Crucifixion and Resurrection, there is no other atoning.

In all seriousness, I would venture to guess that Jeffs was not as familiar with the book of Hebrews as he needs to be if he purports to be a leader in any organization that bears the name of Jesus Christ. This is not a footnote. This is the cornerstone of true Christian doctrine. Even allowing that true doctrine has nothing to do with the goings-on of the Fundamental Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the word "atone" is not one to trifle with.

Perhaps God will be merciful to Warren Jeffs and allow him the opportunity in prison to comprehend and avail himself of the benefits of Christ's atoning sacrifice while his eternal spirit still inhabits his mortal body.

With a sentence of "life plus 20 years" he should have plenty of time to reflect and possibly even cross paths with an authentic prison chaplain who can show him the Truth of Christ and lead him to repentance before his earthly sojourn ends. Perhaps, like David Berkowitz, about whom I wrote in my last post, prison could be the best thing that ever happened to Warren Jeffs.

But first, he'll need to jettison the defiant pride he evidently displayed as recently as yesterday, as he insists he remains a prophet. Atonement is inseparable from truth, and the truth is that we all need atoning for, and the road is narrow. It requires agreeing with God about everything, owning our depravity, repenting and surrendering.

Afterall, that's the only hope any of us has.

[Read more:]

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Reaping Behind Bars

Although it takes concerted effort, it is still possible to find some silver linings in the daily maelstrom of news headlines. They’re hard to find because—remember—everything is inverted down here is this world that is a “shadow of the things to come” [Col. 2:17]; in eternity, all will be clearly seen for what it really is.

But here’s one I just caught on the national broadcast news. On August 10, less than two weeks away, it will have been 33 years since David Berkowitz, dubbed the ‘Son of Sam’ killer, was apprehended. He is serving six life sentences, the equivalent of 365 years, for killing six people and wounding several others, while terrorizing the metropolitan New York City area from July 1976 until August 1977 when he was arrested.

A brief part of the news report included a familiar head shot of Berkowitz staring blankly into the camera with an eerie half smile on his face. The image morphed into what Berkowitz looks like today…a bald, heavy-lidded inmate whose eyes no longer look glazed over by schizophrenia. In the intervening years, apparently, he has undergone a transformation.

“Berkowitz has been ‘born again’,” intoned the reporter, in what sounded very much like a sneer.

This story, of course, falls under the category of ‘jailhouse conversions’ or ‘getting religion in the big house.’ It’s understandable that many are skeptical.

But, every now and then, these accounts turn out to be true, and this is one of those times. As I have noted before, incarceration is the best thing that can happen to some people. Right, Chuck Colson?

The Berkowitz story is more obvious than most: key features of some taunting letters that he wrote before he was apprehended, and of his court testimony, are ongoing references to a satanic cult to which he claimed to belong.

And what’s to doubt? If human behavior springs from one of only two sources of motivation, God or Satan, it’s a slam-dunk he was not serving the Lord in 1976-7. He was deceived and under the power of the evil one. He committed heinous crimes and is justifiably removed from living in freedom for the rest of his mortal life. But after that, ah, after that comes the true denouement.

Since 1987 when “ Berkowitz became a born again Christian in prison” [] he has been transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. He lives with the assurance of that transaction now. On the other side of the vestibule of eternity, he will experience the joy and riches of having his spiritual sentence commuted….that of being born a fallen being under the sentence of spiritual death, a condition we all share.

Again, from Widipedia:

In 1987, Berkowitz became a born again Christian in prison. According to his personal testimony, his moment of conversion occurred after reading Psalm 34:6 from a Gideon's Pocket Testament Bible given to him by a fellow inmate.[38] In the same testimony, he stated that his obsession with and heavy involvement in the occult played a major role in the Son of Sam murders. []

And where’s the fruit of this profession of faith?

Well, so far, he has passed on two different parole hearings because he feels he should not be freed.

In March 2002, Berkowitz sent a letter to New York Governor George Pataki asking that his parole hearing be canceled, stating: "In all honesty, I believe that I deserve to be in prison for the rest of my life. I have, with God's help, long ago come to terms with my situation and I have accepted my punishment." [39] In June 2004, he was denied a second parole hearing after he stated that he did not want one. The parole board saw that he had a good record in the prison programs, but decided that the brutality of his crimes called for him to stay imprisoned. In July 2006, the board once again denied parole on similar grounds, with Berkowitz not in attendance at the hearing. He is very involved in prison ministry and regularly counsels troubled inmates.”

Who knows what eternal destiny Berkowitz would be facing had he not been apprehended by Jesus? Facing justice on earth and mercy in the heavenlies is the best thing that ever happened to him.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Chinese Water Torture

I bumped my heart against a familiar rock a couple of days ago. A painful bruise began to reappear, a well-known throbbing, while the offending rock seemed as unscathed and unyielding as ever. I rued my apparent failure to recall a lesson learned many, many times before.

On reflection, it seems the only way to avoid the vulnerability is to avoid the contact; a strategy that’s safe, but which doesn’t mirror Jesus. Trying to be like Him inevitably involves personal pain. I don’t like that part. But on this side of eternity, it seems there are no other options. As C.S. Lewis once noted, to protect one’s heart and ensure it is kept safe and unhurt inevitably leads to its petrification…it hardens and becomes impervious until it’s really not a heart at all. It becomes painless and useless.

In Deuteronomy 6:6-7 the Lord counsels parents to carry His commandments “on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

Kind of brief, these instructions, and really not too difficult to understand. A couple of things they don’t include, however, are suggestions for when the children’s hearts won’t yield to the impression; nor when to ‘call it a day,’ and decide that the mission has failed and our parental duty is absolved. I think I might be forgiven for thinking these commands are incomplete; then I remember Who the Author is and remind myself that He is never incomplete.

So, where does this leave me? (1) I’m not responsible for the outcome, or the unyieldingness of my target; and (2)to give up is to defy the modeling of my heavenly Father. Neither of these conclusions is comfortable nor satisfying.

Thus, I wonder if perhaps I must employ a sort of spiritual Chinese water torture, on the rocky heart of my child. Such a practice is both tedious and numbing. One can’t see whether any impact is being made at all. On the other hand, one can’t see that no impact is being made either. It’s just the slow drip-drip-drip of drops of Truth, coming forth aloud from a parent’s mouth to the stony ears of the prodigal or in silent prayer to the One Who knows.

A wise woman once told me that we ‘don’t know what we don’t know.’ That axiom contains ample room for both frustration and hope. But a parent in possession of truth wields an unconquerable weapon. I need to be faithful to continually pick it up and stand at the ready; and to humbly ask for His help when the burden grows too heavy or my heart too faint.

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
[Hebrews 4:12]

No siren song of the world, nor chattering of the Enemy, has such effect. Like barnacles on a ship hull, the work of the devil sprouts as a deadly barrier to freedom and new life, impeding forward progress. Only the cleansing and insurmountable power of God’s truth is effective to burn it away.

In the meantime, I accept that my assignment is to faithfully drip the tonic of truth onto the rock and trust that the granite cask imprisoning my child’s hearat is being eroded. Though I don’t see any progress yet, I know the One Who does.

”Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account." [Hebrews 4:13]

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Cup By Any Other Name...

Greetings, gentle readers. I come to you tonight, swathed mummy-like, from inside a surprisingly long Ace elastic bandage. Is this an indication of how Fashion-Forward I am? But, of course not.

Yesterday I underwent minor surgery intended to remove any doubt [as well as dubious tissue] regarding a recent mammogram/biopsy procedure. All seems to have gone well, and I have all the narcotics I need for pain relief...and, they DO come in handy.

As often happens, this excursion included both highlights and lowlights. I'll begin with the former.

Prior to leaving for the outpatient surgery center yesterday morning, Mr. H. prayed that we might come across a Christian caregiver at the hospital. This has been known to happen, and occurred repeatedly during Ben's month-long hospital stay two years ago. Still, it was a wonderful encouragement to recognize the nurse anesthetist who came into my 'holding' room...a delightful and highly competent professional we've known from church and violin lessons. Besides taking time to visit with us, catch up on our respective kids, and introduce us to the anesthesiologist, Polly was very supportive and informative, and took time to pray with us before I was, literally, rolled away.

I have noted before how utterly helpless and vulnerable one can feel from the vantage point of an operating table...when something is amiss with oneself and youu have no choice but to look up into the faces of everyone else as they look down at you, somewhat ominously. So, there was a bit of a comfort factor to recognize her eyes above one of the several blue surgical masks in the room, as well as spying the surgeon. Due to the miracles of modern anesthesiology, the next thing I knew I was in the recovery room, trying to 'come to.'

Now, on to the non-highlights, which occurred before surgery. First of all, it is not dreadful, but certainly not delightful to have oneself 'graffittied' with a Sharpie pen to ensure that the correct anatomical region is matched with the correct doctor, etc. But, better safe than sorry. I presume this logic also underlies the quick audio recording that was made in the surgical suite just before it's 'lights out' for the patient: "Would you please give us your name? Your date of birth? And what are you here for, Kathleen?"

A little surreal, but not pointless.

However, BEYOND surreal, and --literally pointless--was the Medical Supply [and I use the term loosely] employed following my needle localization procedure. Since it's not likely that the general reader is familiar with this, I will briefly summarize. Needle localization involves having an ultrasound technician locate with a transponder the area of tissue, etc. that will comprise the surgery site. Once the appropriate area appears on the ultrasound screen, a radiologist then mysteriously appears with Lidocaine and a specially wired needle.

Using the ultrasound as a visual guide, he then inserts the needle into the target area and magically injects a fish-hook type device therein, which acts as a physical marker. Because of the hook feature, it is stablized in the site. Try to think of this as something other than human.

Here, however, is where the production value of this scenario plummets. So outlandish was it, that it never occurred to me how truly crude it would be.

Allow me to illustrate.

What I Was Told: "Following the needle localization, they will cover the area with a cup, and then cover you, so can preserve a little modesty."

What I Imagined: After deporting myself as maturely as I could during this small ordeal, I would be helped into a sitting position and have my left breast comfortably and discreetly covered with a smooth, sterile, and hopefully warm vessel, similar to a dessert cup. Not that this would be on the top of my list of Fun Adventures, but still, better than..

What Actually Happened: I squiggled myself into an upright position on the table, trying to keep track of the single flannel blanket and numerous crinkly paper sheets. While thus engaged, I realized that the gleaming wire now protruding from my stern was rather hard to ignore, and yet not anything I wanted to fixate on. But, oh well, at least I would soon have my comfy cup to preserve my last shred of modesty.

Um, no. You could be forgiven for thinking, as did I, that the technician was making a weak attempt at humor when she reached for a paper drinking cup...the fountain size. However, this was not humorous. It was not expected. It was not appreciated. However, I have no doubt it WAS cost-effective.

As I watched, my mouth agape, this competent young woman proceeded to fold down strips of the paper cup rim into makeshift flanges...emphasis on 'shift.' Because they did. During downtime, someone had carefully snipped 8 or so cuts in the rim of the cup, extending down about an inch or two. It was then supposed that she would simultaneously hold, fold, and tape this paper catastrophe to my reluctant chest....suffice it to say, I had to hold the cup in place myself. However, I was mistaken in believing I would be covering any sensitive parts of my own anatomy...I was left 'hanging out' while the localization needle was carefully encased in a mutilated soda cup.

Interestingly, as part of a new patient satisfaction scheme(I assume), during my initial assessment, I was asked to read five 'value' words on a whiteboard, and to indicate which was the most important to me during my 'hospital experience.' I don't recall all five, but they were along the lines of 'friendliness,' 'feeling respected,' etc. I chose 'professional skills of caregivers.'

But, had I known then what I know now...I might have suggested they scale back the award-winning architectural details in the hosptial concourse and splurge on sensible and appropriate procedural supplies. Going through this adventure again is definitely NOT on my bucket list.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Memorable Mile

This evening, dear readers, it is my high privilege to be the first to interview Mr. J. Daniel, one-mile runner.

Editor: Mr. Daniel, to what do we owe this auspicious opportunity?

JD: Well, it's not THAT important...I mean, all it is is a mile run. I mean, people have done it before.

Ed: Well, point taken, but please tell us about YOUR experience this morning.

JD: Well, we went to the neighborhood of my dear friend, David Hook, a fellow Loves Park resident. He has this pond in the front of his subdivision, and we did the mile around that.

Ed: Um, so why did you do that? Run a mile around a pond, I mean...

JD: Oh, oh...well, see, every year, our School does the mile run as part of our P.E. They sort of put us up to it, you could say.

Ed: Ah! Well, give grown-ups a little power and there's no telling where it can lead...

JD: I suppose so, but, hey, what are you gonna do?

Ed: Quite.

JD: Not everyone had to run the whole mile. They give the little kids a break because, well, I guess because they're still little. Life is easier when you're little. But, being a teenager myself, I had to run the whole mile.

Ed: So, how did it go?

JD: It was sorta long, because we had to do it three and a half times around the pond...and it was really COLD and windy...that was one of the disadvantages...

My sister Cecily, poor kid, also had to run the whole mile because she is 10...and her legs ARE getting kind of long. But still, it was brutal.

Ed: So, how many laps did you older kids have to run?

JD: A dreadful three and a half miles!!!

Ed: But, unconfirmed reports mentioned that there were some faithful, hardy moms shivering under blankets to cheer you all on!

JD: Whatever. That didn't really help because they just kept standing still. We were the ones doing the pain!

Ed: Hmmmm....well, OK. Were you running against the wind, or did you have the wind at your back?

JD: Well, since it was kind of round, on one side the wind was behind us pushing us, but like all good things, it didn't last, because we would turn the corner and have the wind blast us in the face. It was hard to keep your balance.

Ed: Gracious! How did you manage?!

JD: Well, I did just do it, ya know?

Ed: Did everyone finish well?

JD: Well, that's kind of in the perspective of the other people. Everyone was kind of lying in the grass and dying and stuff. There were a couple of kids who couldn't finish...or they didn't persist enough. Really, we were running against ourselves, not against each other. Well, I gotta go brush my teeth, so I'll see ya around.

Ed: But, Mr. Daniel, I don't think we're quite done here....Mr. Daniel...???

How GOOD Can It Be?

Curiously, today's seems rife with stories...everything from Victoria Jackson taking issue with a gay story line on the show, "Glee," to details of the on-set negotiations that apparently went on during the filming of "Soul Surfer", the story of Bethany Hamilton, a young surfer who lost an arm to a tiger shark.

As long as the world we live in remains fallen, there will be no agreement or lack of controversy on how to manage the "Jesus Issue."

What is it about this guy that seems to make it impossible to remain really neutral?

Hopefully, you realize that I pose the above question with tongue firmly planted in cheek....there are many reasons why Jesus is seen as a 'polarizing figure.' My take is that chief among these reasons is the pivotal fact of Jesus' mission: to rescue us from the consequence of our inherent sin; a fact which requires us to acknowledge that we DO, in fact, miss the mark when it comes to being holy enough to be in relationship with God. And, face it, who wants to look at their own sin?

And once you've allowed for the possibility that none of us is as good as we could or should be, well then, my friend, you are only a baby step away from assenting that we do, indeed, live in a moral universe.

Which is why I find it so curious, and mildly bewildering, that a serious British scholar has found the need to compile a secular Bible. Now, "bible" is simply a word for "book." But The Holy Bible is a wholly unique book from a holy and unique God.

Why, then, does Prof. Grayling find the need for creating his own 'bible'? Well, here's a clue. He identifies himself as an atheist; in which case the whole God/Jesus thing is a bit inconvenient. So, instead, Mr. Grayling has painstakingly culled through centuries of recorded wisdom, meditation, and other 'good thoughts.'

He makes no claim to original inspiration here...just the fact that he undertook the massive task of reviewing, researching, evaluating, and eventually compiling this 600+ page book of worthwhile thoughts as an ethical guide. With an open mind, with a searching eye, and with absolutely no restrictive boundaries or limits set by moral or religious notions. But, why would you care about being ethical if there is no plumb line by which to define it? What's ethical to Eve, may be unethical to Steve. Confusing?

However, more than this, I find myself wondering, why Mr. Grayling decided to entitle his new tome, The Good Book: A Humanist Bible and how he can define the word "good" apart from a moral connotation.

Good (per morally excellent, virtuous, righteous, pious. Really, if there isn't some external, reliable, unbiased standard by which to evaluate, how good can it be?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Of Limits and Flying Shoes

One of our family's favorite games is called "Mille Bornes", or "1,000 Stones." It's a French card game based on the idea of an auto race, the object of which is to lay down enough mileage cards to reach one thousand miles (milestones) before one's opponents do the same. For the sake of interest, not to mention verisimilitude, there are helps and hazards to be played for and against oneself and one's competitors in the course of the race. One of the more frequent obstacles to be played is the familiar speed limit card, which can be dispensed with if you are the lucky holder of a corresponding "End of Limit" card.

Would that such valuable gambits existed in Real Life. I find lately that limits smack me in the face with less warning and more impact than ever before.

Over the weekend, Mr. Bill and I went to the cinema to take in the new release, "Limitless." [One-sentence review: hardly a classic, but novel, entertaining escapism.] The film follows the journey of a struggling writer whose life is catapulted into unimagined success by virtue of an experimental drug that gives him supernatural focus and access to his brain's full potential. Under this influence he is, virtually, limitless. But, as we all know, real life is full of limitations.

And if it is frustrating to bump up against the reality of my own limitations, how much more so when others supercede their limits and trespass onto my domain?

And so it was last night, when my own personal boundaries were again exceeded by a son's folly, that our front door was enexpectedly opened and his shoes became airborne, landing with an unimpressive squish onto our sodden front lawn.

I have no idea whether any curious neighbors happened to witness this little display, or whether they may have reacted with bemusement, astonishment, or worse. I just know that my ability to absorb further disrespect and boundary violations collapsed at that moment, and I needed some impact, however ludicrous it may have appeared.

Cathartic? Well, that may be stretching it. Attention-getting? Um, yes. Sudden silence reined for a few minutes before the prodigal's brother began sputtering in disbelief and confusion.

This is probably to be expected. Today's conventional wisdom apparently includes the erroneous notion that parents' longsuffering is limitless. Well, not at this house. I don't even think it's particularly helpful to perpetuate this myth. No one and nothing in this fallen world is without limits. A clue? Prisons. Cemetaries. Pink slips. Hospitals. Eruptions of all kinds. Limits are breached and "surprises" ensue.

As I once heard Chuck Colson observe, failure to freely self-govern inevitably leads to diminished personal freedoms. Few of us want to believe this but, alas, experience repeatedly bears it out. If we're not willing to acknowledge and respect where our rights end and another's begin, things quickly "go south." Far better to learn this early on and treat others as we want to be treated. This means understanding and living within reasonable limits.

I am learning, albeit with painful slowness, that life works better when I live within limits. Not arbitrary limits, but those that proceed from wisdom.
And even this--finding wisdom--requires me to face my own limitations because wisdom does not originate from me.

“Where then does wisdom come from?
Where does understanding dwell?
21 It is hidden from the eyes of every living thing,
concealed even from the birds of the air.
23 God understands the way to it
and he alone knows where it dwells,
24 for he views the ends of the earth
and sees everything under the heavens.
27 then he looked at wisdom and appraised it;
he confirmed it and tested it.
28 And he said to man,
‘The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom,
and to shun evil is understanding.’”

[Job 28, selected]

But, as my experience last night demonstrated, such lessons can be offered, but receiving them is up to the other party. Since he's not interested in learning yet, I hope he at least picked up his shoes.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Miss Cee's Infallible Guide to Managing FoBs

Above is a live action shot of my very own self, flanked by the Netherlands Ambassador on my right, and Senator Palpatine, a surprise attendee, on my left. Always be prepared for any contingency!

[a.k.a. Eavesdropping Inside the Uniquely Wondrous Mind of Cecily Grace]

The first thing to remember is don't be intimidated by the size of these big guys. Sure they’re taller and stronger, but that’s nothing to be afraid of. After all, they are FoBs, also known as Friends of Ben: how scary can they really be? Nothing I can’t handle, I assure you. The goal, gentle readers, as alway, is to be IN CONTROL without arousing undue suspicion.

Now then, the details. As the accompanying photograph illustrates, many important advantages can be gained WITHOUT THEM EVER KNOWING!!! For example, it was nothing at all for me to simply slide my small self into the chair at the Head of the table….psychological advantage for my queenly self? Score!!

First, FUEL:
It should go without saying that copious amounts of food are not only helpful, but—indeed—necessary when dealing with the male species of any age, but especially so between the ages of 10 and 50. These guys are all 19-21 so, take it from me, extra fuel is required. The good thing, though, is that they are surprisingly unpicky about what you place before them. I’ve seen them go through crackers and cheese, pizza, cookies, pizza, boxes of cereal, chips, pizza, and enough Mountain Dew to buoy a whale. Without ever coming up for air. It is astonishing, really.

And that’s not even getting into the Fast Food category.

Anyway, if you see them breaking out the Texas Hold Em set (one of Benny’s friends actually has his own aluminum brief case, with special little nooks and crannies for cards, chips, pads, pencils,….it’s kind of the bomb)…just be patient. Unless they are INCREDIBLY progressive, they will not let you play poker with them. We just have to give them time to evolve. But patience pays off.

What you’ll find is that after the strongest personality has lost enough money, he will insist that a new game be found, and now , gentle reader, your Moment of Opportunity has arrived.

Here’s a quick cheat sheet of game possibilities, rated according to effectiveness:

BOGGLE, SCRABBLE, and other letter/word games – you probably won’t get them to go for these, because, being male, they probably are more left-brained, and aren’t really delighted by verbal challenges.

PARCHEESI, SORRY, etc. There is a tad of strategy here, but only a tad. And strategy is a flavor of thinking that Friends of Ben automatically equate with bravura and other so-called manly qualities. You might be able to get away with this one if it is the beginning of the gaming session, and you are just getting them primed. Alternatively, wait until the end of game time looms, and everyone is sloshing with Mountain Dew and lining up for the powder room (but don’t tell THEM it’s called that !)

DOMINOES – The thing to remember here is that, in general, FoB’s have a relatively short attention span (unless we’re talking NBA or NFL on the flickering screen) and so it’s unlikely that they will stay engaged long enough with the domino tiles for you to really enjoy a resounding victory. And even if you are getting ahead, they won’t let you get any real glory from it. They put it down to “luck” or some other random cause from which you cannot hope to gain any adulation or congratulation whatsoever.

APPLES-to-APPLES: This is the apex, girlfriends. If you get them around to this table game, you are in…as in, ‘easy, peasy, lemon squeezy.’ Apples to Apples is a game that’s been around for a while. We were introduced to it by one of my aunts (which means my dad is their little brother…so they WAY know how to manage brothers and friends!). The gist of it is to get people to think the way you do…is this genius or what??? There are decks of cards, some of which represent categories, and some of which could be examples of the given category…depending on how one’s mind works…um, assuming it does. Each person takes a turn as the ‘judge’ who decides which of the other player’s card choices best represents your category. Here are a few excerpts…

“The Word is ‘little’, as in small, not big.”
“Dude, how do you get ‘screen door’ for ‘little’?”
“It’s the closest thing I had.”
“That is SO lame…”
“What!!! Are you kidding me?
“I am amazing…I’m, dude, just amazing.”
“Is there any more pizza?”

Now, I grant you, that some patience is still required because everyone gets a turn at being the judge….but, I assure you, FoBx are no match for our feminine instincts and expertise.

And there is nothing to compare to the glorious thrill of hearing, “No, Cecily IS the judge now!”, and then, just a short time later, hearing yourself say:

“Thank you. I WIN. Let’s play one more!!”

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Boy v. Girl Wrestling

Perhaps you saw a story that made the rounds about two weeks ago, about a male high school athlete who forfeited a title rather than wrestle a girl competitor. This has been spun all different ways, according to the perspective of the source(s) publishing it. But, since it snagged my attention enough to actually post a response myself, I'm including a bit of it here.

As excerpted from Focus on the Family President Jim Daly's blog:

"This is a story about three people: a 16-year-old boy named Joel Northrup, a 14-year-old girl named Cassy Herkleman and popular ESPN columnist, Rick Reilly.

For context, Joel and Cassy are high school wrestlers from Iowa; Rick is a talented and often humorous sportswriter, prone to zany antics. (He was so certain our Colorado Rockies wouldn’t make the playoffs in 2009 that he threatened to lick Denver’s Capitol dome if they did. They did – and he did.)

That said, this story is really more about the distinctives surrounding gender than it is about these three individuals – or wrestling itself.

Here are the facts:

Last week, Cassy Herkleman was scheduled to wrestle Joel Northrup in the first round of the Iowa state high school wrestling tournament. But as you may know by now, Joel refused the match, walked off the mat and forfeited the round and his chance at a state title.


'As a matter of conscience and my faith,' he wrote in a statement, 'I do not believe that it is appropriate for a boy to engage a girl in this manner.'

Joel, who is home-schooled, is also a pastor’s son. His father, Jamie, was strikingly blunt when speaking with the Des Moines Register about his son’s decision:

'We believe in the elevation and respect of women, and we don't think that wrestling a woman is the right thing to do. Body slamming and takedowns -- full contact sport is not how to do that.'

Rick Reilly [a professional sports writer]was not convinced. He wrote that Joel was “wrong” to refuse the match and that “If the Northrups really wanted to ‘respect’ women, they should've encouraged their son to face her.”
[End of Daly excerpt]

The link to the completle article is:

There were more than 1,200 responses to this blog post, and although I read many of them, I could not tell you the percentage of responders for or against the stand taken by this young male athlete. A couple of the more compelling responses included specific details about some of the wrestling holds, such as the "High C [crotch] hold", and the "Saturday Night Ride". I lack such indepth knowledge and have never been a fan of pugilism; however, this has never stopped me from having opinions, and the response I posted is as follows:

Kathleen says: The "right" thing to do is almost always the hardest of the available alternatives; which inevitably leads to the deeper issue of what constitutes "right"? As soon as right and wrong enter into the conversation, you've stepped onto moral ground whether you like it or not And this, in turn, begs the question: from what foundation, or by what plumb line is "right" v. "wrong" determined? This young man and his family do not hesitate to point out that their moral measuring stick is rooted in their Christian faith, a faith that I share.

My own opinion is that Mr. Northrup's decision to forfeit the match was the harder, more honorable, and more costly choice, and I applaud him and his family for it.

Those, who like Mr. Reilly, assert that not wrestling Miss Herkleman was not respecting her would do well to realize that Someone else's opinion comes into play here...and this is the ultimate divide. It is indeed the case, as Christ makes clear in Matthew 6:24, that 'No one can serve two masters.Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other." That's the reality; in this case, Mr. Northrup could be devoted to God or to the situation that would require him to deny his convictions...but he could not do both. He made the wiser choice by choosing to respect the Lord Who made him, and before Whom we each will give an account.

As for Miss Herkleman, while I can understand her disappointment, in my view, the situation exacts less of a toll on her than on Mr. Northrup. He not only lost the chance at a state title, and allowed it to default to Miss Herkleman, but he also has reaped (and I presume it was no surprise to him) controversy and ill will he never sought.

Aside from the issue of spiritual conviction there is the axiomatic truth that males and females, particularly after puberty, are fundamentally different---equal, but different. If you doubt this, aske yourself why women in combat are routinely raped by male enemy troops...and that this information usually is suppressed. Also consider the findings from studies, such as one conducted by the Israeli military a number of years ago, which found that male soldiers were more adversely affected by seeing their 'sisters in arms', or female troopmates, mistreated by enemy forces than when they themselves were harmed.

The bottom line is that males and females are distinct from each other, for profoundly wonderful reasons.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Chocolate...A Dental Danger?

Who knew?

One of my earliest memories involves chocolate...and my thumb. As an inveterate thumbsucker, I vaguely can recall standing in the kitchen of our little house in Metairie, Louisiana when someone (very likely the deep-voiced neighbor lady from across the street) asked me what flavor my thumb was...a reasonable inquiry, I suppose, considering the percentage of daylight hours that little thumbkin spent in there.

"Chocolate!!," I replied (matter of factly). Obviously. Is there another flavor?

But that was a previous era, century, and lifetime ago. These days, even old reliable pleasures warrant a second look.

Take for example, the recent spate of dental trouble I've run into...and the common denominator of these woes, which springs from the heavenly cacao bean.

First was the unfortunate encounter with the dark chocolate Ritter Sport bar...apparently so named because one must be a good sport to survive the trauma/drama that ensues when one breaks a tooth on this perversely low-cocoa butter content confection.

Alas, gentle readers, I am still In Process with my Protracted Dental Implant Saga. But the nutshell version, for those who may need a recap, is that innocently biting into the Sport Bar last June precipitated a bone-crunching noise and excruciating pain. One brief dental x-ray later, the verdict was in: right-hand virgin canine tooth was broken completely off at and below the gumline. It was a goner. And I haven't been a Ritter customer since.

Fast-forward to this morning. In the course of innocently going about my morning ablutions, I reached into the square glass canister on my bathroom counter and retrieved a foil wrapped Viactiv Calcium Chew...chocolate, of course...why would I be tempted by any other flavor? Allow me to pause and note that this habit was begun at the behest of my doctor who, noting my age, recommended I consume one to two calcium supplement cubes a day to help prevent bone loss. I was only following directions.

Popping it into my mouth, I looked for a towel and stopped, mid-reach. Whoa!! There must be a signficant quality control problem at the Viactiv plant! I bit into a rock-hard chunk of something embedded in the chocolate chew...the impenetrability seemed a positive indication that this was not rodent residue, at least. Quickly retrieving the flattened supplement from my now-sore mouth, I heard something ping onto the bathroom floor.

What else could it be, but a portion of Tooth #30, located in the lower righthand quadrant of Molarville? Ah...and there, sparkling in the slim shaft of sunlight coming from the window was...a very sorry, very ancient piece of silver amalgam filling, still clinging desperately to a fragment of half-century old dental enamel. Hmmmm. Neither planned for in the schedule, nor in the budget. My tongue immediately discovered a cruel cavern gaping open from whence this had come.

So, at present, the score is Intact Dentition - 0, Culpable Chocolate - 2.

It should go without saying that a couple of inconvenient, if painful, incidents could in no way preclude my chocolate intake. I'm hard-wired for the stuff. But, this is getting expensive, not to mention a bit embarrassing (although my dentist doesn't seem to mind).

I spent from 4 pm to 6 pm this afternoon in a dental chair as poor #30 was doused, dried, drilled, and drilled some more in preparation for a costly crown. After three Lidocaine injections, I was too numb to rinse my own mouth out, but didn't realize it until pungent green liquid cascaded from the working side of my mouth, all over my bib and jeans. Sadly, I was not wearing bib jeans.

In two weeks, I return to have my new temporary crown replaced with a real porcelain-over-gold one...which should match exactly with the resin falsy I still flaunt on my flipper day...may actually be replaced by an implant.

Is there any redeeming aspect to this repeated gap (I mean, gaffe)? Well, one can always count on my unintentional ability to supply comic relief here at the Circle H Ranch...

I take a deep breath and press my cell phone to my ear, hoping that I reach my Trusty Partner before he arrives at the office.

Mr. H: "Hello?"

Mrs. Dental Dilemma: "Uh, hi, it's me."

Mr.: "I figured."

Mrs.: "Well, I think I'm going to be costing you a lot of money again."

Mr.: "Hmmmmm."

Mrs.: "Well, you know how I'm supposed to have one of those little Viactiv chews every morning for the calcium?"

Mr.: "How expensive are they?"

Mrs. "No, no, it's not that---"

And on I proceeded with my tale as my mouth throbbed on.

Being the practical sort, Mr. H. was not angry "it's not like you could help it, these things happen...", nor was he overtly suprised...these things happen.

NOR was he anywhere near the vicinity of his office, I later learned.

Miss Cee [frolicking into the bathroom]: "Mommy, Daddy thinks it's so funny that you talk to him on your cell phone when he's still in the kitchen!! You should do that again...he really liked it!!"

Monday, February 21, 2011

Overheard in a Chinese Restaurant

Scene: Chen's Chinese Restaurant, Somewhere in the Midwest. Inside, nothing has changed since 1969, except that the green enameled partitions, once meant to suggest a Mediterranean grotto, are hung wtih Oriental lanterns, emblazoned with roaring dragons; they appear a little less ferocious under a protective layer of dust.

The table is littered with the remains of multi-dish Cantonese family meal, well enjoyed.

And now, for the long-anticipated piece de resistance: the presentation of the guest check and Fortune Cookies!

John: We have to crack them open all together!

Mom: OK, 1-2-3-***CRACK!!!***

Dad: OK, I'll read mine: "Your present business venture will soon succeed." I'll take that fortune!

Miss Cee: Me next! No, Johnny, I said it's MY turn! Let's see *turns crinkled fortune upside down a few times* Hmmmmm, OK, here it is!! "You have a mag...a mag..something....person...huh?

Alina: Let's see that...ah...aha!!! "You have a magnetic personality." Well, well, well! Who knew?

John: Magnetic to what??? She's kind of bossy to be magnetic...just sayin'...

Miss Cee: Hey!!!

Mom: John, what does yours say?

John: ...hmmmm...let me...see...ah, never mind...

Indignant Chorus: No, no, no, you have to share Johnny!!

John: No, really....

Mom: I bet it says something about meeting an intriguing stranger, right?

John: Um, NO!!!

Dad: Alina, you can take a fortune cookie...just don't eat the cookie part [editor's note: fortune cookies contain gluten protein, the verboten ingredient for those with celiac disease.]

Alina: *crack* Well, OK, what does it say here?--

John: [reaching a bit too eagerly]: It says, "I'LL eat your cookiie!!!"

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Freeze Frame

Tonight was Backwards Night at our church's Awana club. This meant that participants wore their clothes backwards...or at least their club shirts--collars and plackets gaping between the shoulder blades. Oh, and extra points were awarded for the few overachievers who actually wriggled into their jeans backwards. I excused myself from that endeavor.

The game segment of the evening was also backwards: circles were run clockwise instead of counter-clockwise; teams with the fewest points won; and the 'hockey' game that usually closes the evening was at the top of the game agenda.

But, as I stood on our team line, looking down the row of heads as the girls waited for their next turn, I was struck anew with the realization that there's no backward rewind down here. I've been through too many iterations of the process. The eager faces that assemble each fall inexorably change by the end of the year; the little girl cheeks become a bit less rounded, the mannerisms and gait more or less awkward, depending on where they have landed on the growth curve.

But the progess is relentlessly forward in time.

So all we have are moments, snatched from the flowing tide of time: moments on Wednesday nights, plucked between dinner and bedtime, to try to impart nuggets of timeless truth. To provide safe, wholesome fun that exercises the "large muscles groups"; to give one-on-one attention to a 10 year-old striving to memorize a Scripture passage that may be brought to mind at some future time when she arrives at a fork in her road.

This flaxen haired girl is new, but has come consistently since she was first invited. She is determined, but open, and paid attention when I shared the Gospel with her a few weeks ago. Next year she will be too old for this club and will move on to something else...may it not erode or obscure the seeds of eternity that we have tried to plant in her heart.

There are nights when slogging through slushy streets back to the familiar parking lot is the absolute last thing I want to do. But, it's always worth it. The time goes so quickly. And I remind myself that any lasting value is attributable to the Holy Spirit working in lives, young and old.

My job has been to show up and give it a go, trusting that the investment of time and energy will yield eternal dividends.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sister Pet

Although this story of victory has not been posted here yet, last night Miss Cee once again prevailed.

Last night was the occasion of the Amazing Awana Turtle Races at church, for all the Awana clubbers. Photos will follow...and the turtles are not living creatures but wooden cutouts which are decorated by clubbers and then wiggled down a racing lane by means of nylon twine, steady nerves, and sweaty little hands.

For the third time in three years, Cecily won the Best Design Award for her turtle in her age category. Heavens, it's almost embarrasssing! To those who wondered whether she had any assistance, I can only cross my heart and affirm that she was Firmly In Charge of all decorating efforts.

But, that's just the backstory. Sure, there were some moments of glory as her name was called out and she stood up front; and she was presented with a $10 WalMart gift card. Nice!

Yet, what I'M jealous about is the fact that today she was (with actual very minor effort) able to persuade Ben to take her to WalMart to redeem her prize.

We all must accept the family situations we're placed in, and mine was blessed...but oh, how I would have loved to have had a loving, handsome older brother to chauffeur me around once in a blue moon...or even just once, period!!

BEN: Mom!!!! We're back!!!

MISS CEE: Mommy! Look! I got a sucker!!

BEN: Uh, yeh, we had to go to the bank first and I took her in with me [hmm, better than leaving her in the car in -5 degree weather)--

MISS CEE: --I got to go the bank with Benny!

BEN: Yeh, I'M talking...and the lady said, 'ooh, is this your little sister? She's so cute!! Hi there! *patting her on the head* And THEN they asked her if she wanted hot chocolate and a sucker! Like...I never get asked that!

FAITHFUL CORRESONDENT: [somewhat abashed] Huh, I never get asked that either....

BEN: Yep. Well, I had to make an important business withdrawal..and I took Cecily with me. She was cooperative but she couldn't sit still..she had to get a second and third sucker, and then a glass of water and then go to the, she was mostly well behaved, but also what you would call Active.

MISS CEE: Well, Benny, you're making it sound like they petted me or something! They didn't PET me! Sheesh.

BEN: Well, then we stopped at WalMart, and she had trouble deciding what to use it for, so we walked around for 10 or 20 minutes, so then she decides she's goikng to get a lot of things.Like she had to get exactly enough things to use up the whole $10...which is not so quick as you might think. So she got erasers and candy and things. I was trying to teach her the principles of economics..

F.CORR.: Hmm, I bet THAT was a challenge...but, perhaps, Ben, this experience will stand you in good stead in future years when you might, possibly, find yourself shopping with females more your own age...

BEN: Maybe, I don't know. But, shopping with Cecily is an experience. I won't forget this.


It's 2011, and as Solomon noted in Ecclesiastes, there is nothing new under the son. Oh, technology may be rocketing forward and changing the outer shape of those living in "developed" nations, but the essence of the human heart remains corrupt.

If you need to ask for some evidence, better just ingest some caffeine because you're clearly not quite awake. Click on a news site; read the paper; catch a news broadcast. You won't have to listen very long for a story to affirm my assertion.

A few decades ago, when I was involved in a campus ministry, the pastor would frequently open a Sunday worship time with "A Reading of the Record of Our Sin and Folly." And then he would open a recent newspaper and start reading headlines. It only took a short time before I started making the connection between what was happening in the world: local, national and international, and the fact that so, so much of that news fit the categories of sin and folly: "Murder-Suicide Rocks Town"; Middle East Peace Talks Break Down", and on and on. You get the idea.

Yet despite the rolling caravan of headlines and sound bites that benumb us, I still was not prepared for an opinion piece I stumbled upon this moring. The author of this blog post, Sasha Brown-Worsham, seems to be taking herself quite seriously when she references a "study" and then concludes that "Having a Baby is Harder on Sanity Than Abortion".

I wouldn't blame you if this statement defies your standards of credibility. It did mine. But, here's the link:

And here's the lead: "In news that is unlikely to surprise much of anyone, having a baby is much harder on a woman's mental health than having an abortion. This comes from a Danish study published by the New England Journal of Medicine.

Seriously? Setting the question of morality aside for a moment, can anyone really accept this as a scientifically justifed assertion? So the implication here is that willfully truncating the essential process of reproduction--a process upon which the perpetuation of the race depends, and which certainly qualifies as one of the most primal of human functions--is better for female mental health than bringing forth life?

Have you thought this through, Sasha? Because the logical extension of your statement is that maternal mental health and generating new life are incompatible. what does one make of the past several millennia in which generations have been conceived and birthed--right up to TODAY, as a matter of fact--and yet the vast majority of mothers do not occupy mental institutions.

And in case anyone doubts my own credibilty, I have birthed and am raising five children. Is it easy? Well, even noting that definitions of "easy" vary tremendously, I would not characterize motherhood as easy. I've found that very few worthwhile endeavors really qualify as easy.

But violating one of the essential prerogatives of womanhood--childbearing--is easier? What context are you speaking from, Sasha?

As I understand what you offer as scientific evidence, the measure of sanity is based on the number of mental health treatment appointments sought by mothers as opposed to those of post-abortive women.

Here's the quote, as excerpted from The Huffington Post:

Researchers compared the rate of mental health treatment among women before and after a first abortion. Within the first year after an abortion, 15 per 1,000 women needed psychiatric counseling – similar to the rate seeking help nine months before an abortion...while first-time mothers had a lower rate of mental problems overall, the proportion of those seeking help after giving birth was dramatically higher. About 7 per 1,000 women got mental health help within a year of giving birth compared with 4 per 1,000 women pre-delivery.

There are too many questions to ask here, but a few are: (a) does the number of women SEEKING mental health treatment really equal the number of women NEEDING it? (b) does this "data" make any allowance for the pervasiveness of human denial? shame? immaturity? fear? (c)is it sound science to base so sweeping a conclusion on a study based on a brief snapshot of time in the life of young women who have years of life ahead in which to carry the knowledge that they ended the life of their own baby?

Permit me to doubt.

The majority of women I personally know who have had abortions have sought post-abortive counseling to come to terms with this chapter of their lives. Achieving resolution and, more importantly, coming to realize they can be forgiven and must forgive themselves is not instantaneous...but it is possible and well worth it, as several have testified to me.

Those who choose to "go it alone" in bearing the burden of abortion... the ending of a life they did not conceive on their own, afterall... often reap consequences, whether suppressed or acknowledged. They rob themselves, not only of the joy of bringing forth new life, but of the healing that can come when the truth is acknowledged and processed with a counselor who likely cares more the young woman than she does for herself.

Some time ago, I heard a couple of statements, both made by persons whose credentials and expertise affirmed their fitness to address the subject:

(1)Irrefutable evidence from anthropology demonstrates that no society has endured that did not place value on women and children. This is axiomatic.

(2)In the context of the reported rate of abortions per women in the former Soviet Union--average was 8 abortions each--came this conclusion: a culture that evidences the degree of hopelessness and insufficient desire or energy to replace the current generation is a culture with little future.

Which brings me back to King Solomon's musing that "there is nothing new under the sun."

And perhaps the definitive example of that is the human heart...the heart that not only takes an unborn life, most often for the sake of convenience and selfishness, but then tries to convince itself that this is an action that preserves "sanity."

"The heart is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure.
Who can understand it?"
Jeremiah 17:9

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Confession Prompt in Your Pocket

It would be easy for a Protestant believer to take cheap pot shots at the just-released --and undeniably innovative--digital tool,"Confession: A Roman Catholic App".

But, that would be unhelpful, and possibly even mean-spirited. And no one profits [pun not really intended] from that.

As explained in a article today, [],this new application is designed to work with an iPhone, iPad, or iTouch, at the low-low price of $1.99. No profit motive there!

The rationale behind the new app seems sound enough to me: "'Our desire is to invite Catholics to engage in their faith through digital technology,'said Patrick Leinen, co-founder of Little iApps, developer of the Confession app."

Nor is it intended to replace the Catholic confessional, which I understand to be the traditional context of the Sacarament of Reconciliation. I have no quibble with using cyber-tools in the authentic practice of one's faith...just as I don't object to PowerPoint screens during worship services, or speakers that amplify music (below ear-shattering decibel levels). As long as media remain the 'medium', the channel for communication of content, and do not become a distraction that obscures the Content: the relationship between God and His people.

And, hey, since no one has yet figured out a way to make an actual confessional booth literally portable, this seems like a pocket accessory of real potential value.

Whether behind a confessional screen, or by means of an iPod screen, confession is about agreeing with God regarding the things in our lives that can keep us out of right relationship with Him.

I was struck with a quote from a reviewer on Catholic Mom:

"Along with using this app to better prepare myself to go to Confession, I plan to use this app each night as I go through my daily examination of conscience during my nighttime prayers. I'm not certain that I will actually carry it into the confessional with me, but I will immediately be using it to help myself be more receptive of the graces offered with this sacrament."

So, like most (if not all) technological advances designed for personal use, the iConfession app seems to be a coin with two sides: it can facilitate the integration of spiritual discipline with over-busy lives or, on the other hand, it can be used as a shortcut to 'check off' an essential component of the God-person relationship without really connecting to Him. As always, the determining factor is the attitude of one's heart.

Which inevitably brings us to the reason that this is a Roman Catholic tool, rather than a Protestant one: divergent views of how confession and forgiveness take place. To the Catholic, confession is a sacrament which --as I understand it--must occur through the agency of a Catholic priest. To the Protestant, no human priest is required to mediate between God and man:

"But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many;" [Hebrews 9:26-27]

Thus, personal confession is the means by which we manage our need for the cleansing of our daily sin before God. But this transaction takes place directly between the believer and God. The chasm caused by sin has been bridged once and for all by Chist. And since that bridge can be traversed at will, so can the act of confession to Him and the receiving of forgiveness from Him.

And, I've learned, it's best to keep short accounts with everyone, especially God. So maybe I don't really need a Confession app, afterall.

Monday, February 7, 2011

...As In Snowglobe?

I realize it's been a while since we've had any direct dispatches from CecilyLand, but today's classroom experience yielded one little nugget of note...

As reported by Mrs. G., accomplished professional teacher and persevering instructor of Miss Cee for almost Two Whole Years...

Mrs. G.[after introducing the new class reader, Meet George Washington]: So, George's older brother was sent away to England to go to a boarding school there. Boarding school is a place where you not only go to classes, but also-

Miss Cee:--Like, you live in a dome, right?

Mrs. G: What, Cecily?

Miss Cee: I've heard of this before! You live in a dome while you're there...everyone has their own dome to live in...

Mrs. G: No, I don't think so, Cecily...

Miss Cee: Yes, it's your own DOME!!!

Mrs. G: Wait a minute...maybe you're thinking of 'dorm' a dormitory where you live and sleep there and go to school during the day.

Miss Cee[somewhat abashed]: Well, that MIGHT be it...

Hmmmmm...can't be TOO sure about these teachers, though...sometimes THEY get mixed up!