Friday, July 31, 2009

So, what is racial profiling?

I watched this Youtube video this morning, featuring Lucia Whalen, the woman in Cambridge, Mass. who phoned the police to report a suspected break-in at Prof. Gates's home.

I must say, I find this video disturbing. Whalen's valid point is that she did NOT state that the men breaking into Gates's house were black. She couldn't tell their race. She did speculate that one might be Hispanic.

When a person calls the police to report a crime, or describes a criminal suspect to police, one of the first questions that is asked is, "Did you see the race of the suspect?" Race is a distinguishing feature. It's helpful to police, because it allows them to eliminate anyone NOT of that race, in their search. Likewise, if the suspect is described as a woman, the police can then eliminate all males from their search. All descriptions are helpful.

So, was it wrong for the Cambridge police to ask the races of the two men who appeared to be breaking into Gates's house? No.

What if -- WHAT IF -- Whalen had gotten a better look, been standing closer to the house, or if one of the men had turned differently. What if -- WHAT IF -- she had been able to say reasonably that she did think that the men were black?

Would that have been racial profiling?

Because, you see, in the video, she is so adamant to say that she never referred to race. As if describing anyone by race is AUTOMATICALLY racial profiling! That seems to be her implication. If you need to call the police, and are asked to describe a suspected criminal in your neighborhood, will you be hesitant to describe race? Will Americans be more hesitant to use race as a descriptive factor, after this news event in Cambridge?

I'm afraid we're moving in that direction. I'm afraid that anytime a person describes race, he'll be accused of racism, when what he's actually doing is just describing a person: short or tall, male or female, bearded or shaven, black or white.

Profiling occurs when assumptions are made, and acted on, that are derogatory to the person and his whole race. If Whalen, or anyone, thinks, "There's someone breaking into a house. He must be black. Only black people do that. I can make that assumption. I'll tell the police," then that's profiling. But noticing a person's race, and describing that race, is not profiling. That's just giving an accurate description.

Whalen didn't say more than she should have. She did a pretty good job. A perfect job would have been not to mention that one of the men looked Hispanic, when she says she couldn't really tell at all. Are all Hispanics up in arms? I don't hear them! Know why? Because our Hispanic community in America is not nearly so vocal, powerful, or visible, as our black community. Was Whalen profiling Hispanics? Boy, I hope not!

Just a little more damage that this situation has done to all of America, and to law enforcement particularly.

A Castle Puzzle

I've had a yen to work on a jigsaw puzzle, so I went digging in our closets for one we hadn't done recently. Well, we haven't done a jigsaw puzzle at all, in a long time!

We spread the pieces out, and flipped them over, separating out the edge pieces. Julia says you get a "wish" if you spot a corner piece! How sweet!

We've put the edge together, then assembled the castle in the middle, and I've almost finished the blue on the top (it's a lake, not the sky).

This is one of the famous Ravensberger puzzles. Adam gave it to me about 15 years ago, but I never opened it at all. So we are ensured of a puzzle with ALL the pieces! Yay!


This is new recipe for Adam; he made 2 large cream cheese pastries.

They were very good. He was not satisfied with their bottoms, though, and wished he'd used the stone to bake them on, or perhaps one of our air-filled baking pans. B/c the pastries are so large, they take a long time to cook in the middle, and the bottoms got a bit brown. We didn't complain! But he's a perfectionist when it comes to his baking.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Twenty years ago today,

We stood together in a lovely church and promised to be faithfully wed for the rest of our lives. We can't do any grand celebrating (yet) for this anniversary (until we have more employment), but we did go out for breakfast to our favorite little "dive." Don't we look happy?
We are!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Happy Birthday, dear little girl!

I think those pictures just about say it all! Mississippi Mud Cake, a birthday staple at our house, had extra mud this year, as you can see :) And Julia got her heart's desire (well, at least for now) -- a new bike. Today all six of us went to Splash Planet (indoor waterpark), became extremely wet, and had lots of fun!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

"Above yon sombre swell of land
Thou see'st the dawn's grave orange hue,
With one pale streak like yellow sand,
And over that a vein of blue.

The air is cold above the woods,
All silent is the earth and sky,
Except with his own lonely moods
The Blackbird holds a colloquy."

"A-dying mid the autumn-scented haze,
That hangeth o'er the hollow in the wold,
Where the wind-bitten ancient elms enfold
Grey church, long barn, orchard, and red-roofed stead,
Wrought in dead days for men a long while dead."
- Wm. Morris

photo credit: Mark Robinson

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Avoiding those extremes

I spend a bit of time, on and off, reading various blogs. Blogs of close friends and acquaintances are fun to read. And then there are the really time-consuming blogs -- the ones written by people who are trying to work on their religious or political ideas, and they choose to do it in words, online.

Nothing wrong with that. That blogging generates lots of discussion and occasional helpful contributions.

I've grown up a Presbyterian all my life. I'm not one of the old-line liberal Presbyterians; I'm one of those conservative Reformed Presbyterians, you know, the ones that still believe the Bible is God's Word, believe the virgin birth. That kind.

Some would define Reformed theology as rather repressive. They might find it so. I do not. Some mistakenly equate us loosely with fundamentalists, which we most assuredly are NOT. My friends in my tight little cluster of Reformed Presbyterians see their faith as an internal discipline, accomplished through grace that God gives. It's not legalism. It's not from fear or guilt. If you're practicing your faith with those feelings, most of us would say, you've not understood faith correctly and still have a little honing to do.

In any religious system, a few members will flee away and say, "Whew! What a glorious and fortuitous escape!" I REALLY dislike it when I describe briefly my faith and another blog-commenter will say, "I felt JUST as you did, about three years ago, before I was enlightened." This happened to me just the other day! Thanks, but NO thanks!

I understand that some people, in the religious system they grow up in, feel trapped, miserable, stifled, repressed. But not everyone in that group feels that way. Some fundamentalists go to their graves happy and content in their faith. So do many Baptists and theonomists and holiness pentacostals, I'm sure. I don't agree with them in many points, but I do want to be gracious enough to think that EVERYONE doesn't have to be a Reformed Presbyterian to be blessed in his/her faith!

In the middle of these musings, I read this passage last night before bed, from dear old C.S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity:

"[The devil] always sends errors into the world in pairs -- pairs of opposites. And he always encourages us to spend a lot of time thinking which is the worse. You see why, of course? He relies on your extra dislike of the one error to draw you gradually into the opposite one. But do not let us be fooled. We have to keep our eyes on the goal and go straight through between both errors. We have no other concern than that with either of them."

And this is what truly worries me about Christians who flee. They are so dead-set on the horrific error from which they are fleeing, that they are likely to find themselves comfortably ensconced in its opposite.

So, I'm happy not to flee. Like Lewis, I want to find that middle ground.

See what happens when I'm asleep?

Blueberry pies appear on the kitchen counter!

Adam had a yen to bake something yummy, and with gallons of blueberries in the freezer, this was a great choice. I can't WAIT for a slice, with a melty scoop of vanilla ice cream. Mmmmm.

Friday, July 24, 2009

I know it's still July...

...but the cool temperatures this summer, combined with my excitement at not teaching full-time in the classroom this fall, have me wishing for my favorite time of year.

I've always loved autumn. I used to feel a little guilty about it. Most normal people love spring or summer. They enjoy warmth, rebirth, new plants and green shoots and the relief of escaping the dreary cold of winter.

Not me.

I love sweaters and pumpkins, multi-colored leaves and wood fires, chilly mornings and piercing blue skies, making warm applesauce and cooling pumpkin pies, hot cocoa and popcorn, Christmas movies and holiday cheer. The heat of summer exhausts me, but I'm exhilarated by cool mornings, cooler evenings, and the crunch of an early frost on a walk. Stories about squirrels and nuts, bears and snow, children and pumpkins, and steaming early-morning milk cows -- these make me smile.

I may just go ahead and give in to it. Should I blog lots of autumn posts? Maybe I'll see what I can find online. Meanwhile. I have a fun, small literary anthology called "Forest's Robe" with lots of lovely autumn poetry. Expect some gems!

A lover of autumn

"O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow's wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all."

"Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away."

"Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes' sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost --
For the grapes' sake along the wall."

"Wild winds of Autumn go wailing
Up the valley and over the hill,
Like yearning Ghosts round the world sailing,
In search of the old love still."

"October" by Robert Frost
"Desolate" by Gerald Massey

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Let's consult the authorities:

Just for those of you who are interested, here's a link to the police report of Prof. Gates's arrest for disorderly conduct.

And here's what President Obama had to say about Prof. Gates's arrest.

I think it's fascinating that Obama either did not know about Gates's obnoxious behavior, or chose not to include it in his version of the event.

And, if the officer's report is accurate, he warned Gates twice to tone down his behavior or risk arrest.

As they say these days, WHATEVER!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Take a Chill Pill, Mr. Gates!

Have any of you been following the story from Boston about Professor Gates from Harvard? Here's a link to the latest brief article I just read. If you haven't been reading, you might want to do a little Google search and inform yourself. I mean to say!

From reading about 5 news articles online from various sources, here's the story as I understand it:

Gates and his driver arrived at his house in broad daylight, early afternoon. He was just returning from a trip to China, just getting back from the airport.

The front door of his house was jammed, and the two men had difficulty opening the door. Someone observed what he thought was 2 men breaking into a house, and called the police.

So, the police respond to a call. The officer approached Gates and asked to see his ID. At first, Gates refuses. Gates accuses the officer of being a racist, I'm supposing because they made a call to a house about a break-in, when at least one of the men is black (Gates). Gates feels he is being "racially profiled."

Now, perhaps the person who made the call to the police was profiling. Perhaps he just saw a black man wrestling with a door and he assumed a break-in. If that's true, it's unfortunate. Perhaps the person couldn't even see the race of the person forcing the door. But the police cannot determine that. It looked like a forced entry. The policemen were simply responding to a call, and were doing their job.

What else should they have done? Ignored the call? What if it had been a real break-in?
Was the policeman not supposed to ask for Gates's ID? That's silly too. He needs to establish that this man is really the homeowner.

Anyway, evidently Gates lost his temper. From an earlier article, he yelled at and berated the officer inside the house, and, when the officers exited the house, he followed them outside and continued to rail at them.

Now, I'm sorry folks. I know this guy is famous. I know he studies African-American stuff, and is an expert. I know he's a Harvard prof and expects (and has experienced) better treatment than this. And yes, I know he was probably tired and jet-lagged from his trip. I've flown overseas (single-handedly with 10 teenagers in tow, no less), so I know the feeling.

But that's no excuse for stupidity and arrogance. Anyone should know that you should NOT yell and scream at a police officer, and you particularly should not accuse him of things. If you have a complaint, save it for his superior.

Gates is smart enough (I hope, since he's at Harvard) to know these things.

And you cannot simultaneously argue that he is a scared black man, intimidated by racial profiling, and a belligerent aggressive candidate for arrest. He can't be both, IMO.

Gates was arrested for disorderly conduct. Later this charge was dropped.

However, that's not enough for Gates. He demands that the police officer apologize to him.

For what?

For doing his job? For responding to a call? For asking for his ID? For not allowing him to behave in a disorderly manner? Should the officer say, "I'm sorry you're a black man. If you'd been a white man, or a Hispanic man, then of course, my actions were legitimate. But I should have realized that I should have acted differently to a black man." Surely Gates can't want that. That would be racist.

What does the man want?

Perhaps he thinks he has a particular right to scream at police officers and get by with it, when other people don't. If so, he seems to have an attitude of privilege and entitlement. Hm.

I find this all to be very frustrating. I know that REAL racial profiling exists out there, and plenty of it. There are horrible events every day. But not to the Dr. Gates of the world. And his arrogant, over-privileged response only hurts the cases of the men out there who do suffer real discrimination and injustice. Do they get their charges dropped so quickly?

I think the real issue here is Gates's embarrassment. He was humiliated to find himself arrested, and he wants somebody else to be culpable. He's looking for someone to blame, but he has no one to blame but himself. It began as an unfortunate mistake. He's the one who blew it up into a humiliation that he could not handle.

And he owes the policeman the apology, not the other way around.

Thata Girl!

Today, Julia finished all her summer reading! The children are required to read 2 books that I assign to them, plus 5 books of their choice (okay, within reason!), and then they must write summaries/reports on each book. And Julia is ALL DONE! Today she finished reading "The Eagle of the Ninth" and wrote her report. Then she decided to build her version of Hadrian's Wall:

The blocks along the top are the Roman legion, she says. Or perhaps the barbarians?

Demolished with a foot!

I promised reports about food, and have been lax. Last night, Adam and I went to a favorite local Italian restaurant: casual, low-priced and rarely busy. We got there to discover that they'd changed the name, come under new management, refurbished the inside, upped prices slightly, but still offered the same pleasant eating experience. Adam had veal parmesan, and I had chicken parmesan. We began with a simple, delicious bruscetta, and finished with coffee and a piece of shared cheese cake. It was a slowly luxurious meal. We talked about a multitude of things. Afterward we took a drive in the country to a nearby town. It was a lovely date. Adam had received probably his last "teacher thank-you" from a dear school family, and we used it for that evening out.

But food at home? Well, I made a disastrous pumpkin pie, if that counts. Actually, only the crust was a disaster, so we're eating the innards :) And tonight we're having baked chicken. Adam cut it in half for me, so we get more yummy, crispy skin. I sprinkled it with sea salt and tucked a sprig of rosemary under each little chicken leg. I like rice with chicken, and believe it or not, I'm making a box of Rice-a-roni tonight! Adam made a box at Music Conference, and I REALLY liked it. The box tonight is a parmesan cheese flavor. We'll have green beans and corn, and call ourselves done.

Right now, however, I'm enjoying a cup of hot Assam tea, sweet with cream. Ahhh.


My hubby is visiting. Now that he is the stated supply pastor at our church, he can begin doing some of the roles of a pastor, and he absolutely loves it. I think he loves visiting people just about as much as he loves preaching. There's nothing he likes better than sitting down with an elderly person and just yapping for an hour or so, reading some Scripture together, and praying.

He visited two church members on Monday, and attended a funeral.

He visited again yesterday, and spent the morning with a dear lady in a nursing home.

Today he is at the hospital most of the day with a church friend who is undergoing surgery.

And then he is teaching the Wednesday Bible Study tonight.

He loves it so much that he can't believe people will pay you to do all this. He would do it for free, if he could.

I think that's the best kind of work, if you can get it!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

This Blogging World!

Some of you only read a handful of blogs from friends and family. You are wise.

For the rest of us who read a couple dozen blogs each day, following and engaging in a handful of discussions, the blogging world is a dizzying experience.

And every once in a while you run into this: two bloggers who "go at it" and engage in a cat-fight online. On some political blogs, this is an almost daily event.

I have Google Reader, and I check in at MommyLife for each new post. Blogger Barbara Curtis is an experienced mom, writer of parenting books, guest writer and speaker for conservatives, and one busy woman. She has 12 children, 4 of whom have Down Syndrome. She's a Roman Catholic.

I find Barbara hard to take sometimes, but I still read her because I think it's good for me to read not only those with whom I strongly disagree, but those whose beliefs I often share, but whose tone I find troublesome. They are a mirror to me, reminding me that I should be careful not only in what I speak, but in how I speak. I need that.

Barbara has sensitive issues, as we all do. She is like a mama-bear if anyone challenges her on Catholicism, large families, or special needs kids. I no longer leave comments on her blog on these issues; it's not worth it to experience her backlash.

But recently another blogger did, Molly. Back in February, I had a brief discussion here at my blog, with Molly. In this limited dialogue, I discovered a strongly opinionated woman who could express herself with friendliness and even humor, all while disagreeing with me whole-heartedly. I need to learn from her too.

It's not appropriate for me to use either Barbara's or Molly's blogs as a place to honestly assess them as bloggers. We all have strengths and weaknesses, blind spots and moments of superior wisdom. I suppose both women have those who adore them and those who avoid their sites. But in my opinion, Molly got the raw end of the stick in this situation. You can spend an hour reading it all in the posts and comments, but in the end I find it sad that many people cannot disagree with civility.

Blogging is tricky. It's a casual venue where deep issues are addressed. You can spend hours each day delving into the thinking of a person you've never met. Then you can leave 2 sentences of comment for her, and actually engage in discussion. (It's rather like reading a book by your favorite author, and then writing him a letter to which he responds!) Tone of voice and facial expression aren't there to help you communicate, and many offenses have been given and taken in the blogosphere because intentions are veiled in text. Motivations are assumed. Sides are taken. And people who thought they were friends (but have never met) become enemies (who will never meet). It all feels rather strange. With a click of your thumb you can disconnect from your life a group of people with whom you've spent months in friendly banter.

I don't want a famous blog. I always imagine that it's just my family and a few friends who read here, although perhaps that's not true. I kind of don't want to know. Life is messy enough without alienating friends that were only connected to you through the thin thread of a wireless hub. It's too easy to lose them. Do these people not count? Is it somehow safer to hurt them? I don't think so.

So, to all my blogworld friends out there -- please forgive my occasional soapboxes, and I'll try to post more about our favorite subject. Food :)

Monday, July 20, 2009

"Now he was a Samaritan."

I spent a good bit of brain time last week thinking on this passage too -- Luke 17:11-19.

Ponder slowly through this scenario. Ten leprous men have been hanging out together because of necessity. Nine of them are Jews, but one is a Samaritan, a hated, reviled Samaritan. Since the Jews had returned from their exile, and rebuilt their temple and city walls in spite of the Samaritans' evil tricks to prevent them, the Jews had rejected these half-blood cousins. By the time of the events in Luke 17, Jews and Samaritans had hated each other for centuries.

And we know from other NT passages that it was actually against the law for a Jew to visit in the home of a Samaritan or to eat with him. As John says, "For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans."

But leprosy changes all that, doesn't it? When all ten of these men are reviled by all of humanity, the old hatreds break down, and the Samaritan is accepted. He is allowed to live among some of God's people, he who was once God's enemy.

Jesus is stopped by these men, and they plead for his mercy to heal them. He gives them an odd instruction. He says, "Go to the priests (the priests you can't go to unless you're healed), and present yourselves to them." His implication is, that they'll be healed along the way.

But they have to step out in faith. They will be healed in the process of their obedience. And that's a cool idea for us to consider in itself.

But what about the poor Samaritan? How much help will he get if he goes to the Jewish temple and asks for a declaration of cleanliness from the Jewish priests? If you read in the OT, you find that a person asking to be declared cleansed of leprosy had to make a number of sacrifices and offerings -- would a Samaritan be allowed to do that in the Jews' temple in Jerusalem?

Can you see this man gradually slip to the end of the line, slowing down as his buddies hurry south toward to Jerusalem? As they stumble along, they examine their arms; are they healthier? They feel their faces; have their noses and ears healed? They smile at each other in amazement, and run faster.

He is SO stuck. If he stops, and doesn't walk toward those priests who hate him, he is disobeying Jesus, and he knows he won't find healing. But if he keeps going, he's not going to get what they ALL want: legal acceptance into the community again.

But he obeys anyway - the man for whom the obedience makes absolutely no sense. And he's healed. Have you ever obeyed God, even when it made no sense to do so?

Only, he kind of DOESN'T obey. He runs toward Jerusalem just far enough to see that he is clean -- his skin is healthy and smooth. His nose, ears and fingertips have grown back. But does he proceed to those priests and demand that they help him?

No. He goes to the priest who really matters. The priest who cleanses the heart. He returns to Jesus and offers the best sacrifice: a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. And Jesus doesn't revile him for turning back. The man could hardly help but turn back - he needed to see the Savior who had done this amazing deed. He had to thank him first -- he can deal with those priests later.

This event in the gospels has layers of importance for the Christian. To obey? Yes. To step out in faith? Yes. To wait for God to fulfill his promises? Yes. To move in a direction that seems to make no sense, just because God has called you to do so? Yes. To turn always to Jesus, in thanks for the clean heart He gives? Yes.

Jesus tells this man that he has faith -- saving, healing faith. This hated Samaritan had a heart of gratitude that the nine Jewish men did not have. Perhaps the double rejection of both his ethnicity and his disease had worked grace in his heart and faith in his soul.

"Your faith has made you well," Jesus says. Did faith heal the bodies of the other nine, or simply Jesus's words of command? This man experienced the deeper miracle.

Friday, July 17, 2009

What've we been doing, you ask?

We've made new friends.

Some of us have even taken up long-forgotten instruments, and taken to serenading unsuspecting teenagers...

Others of us have spent the week singing under phenomenal directors, learning (or relearning) valuable musical techniques, and making gorgeous music with a host of singers.

And some of us have stayed up WAY too late at night, and tend to fall asleep at odd moments in the afternoon!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

My soul is among the lions

I've been ruminating on Psalm 57 this week. It's a passage full of seemingly conflicting images. Sometimes, David is in agony, suffering and tormented; then in the next phrase he is praising God and speaking of "awaking his glory" to do so. What's going on?

The gripping image of the phrase, "my soul is among the lions," takes us instantly to Daniel, in his own den of lions. Daniel was not the young man we first met in his book; he is older, seasoned in suffering. He is able to sit among the lions, trusting in God, waiting for the dawn, unscathed by sharp teeth and claws. Can you see him, sitting next to a large, sleeping beast, his hand on the deep fur, his eyes tracing the edge of the lions' pit, looking for the first rays of morning?

Why would a man who had endured so much, been tested in his faithfulness repeatedly, served the Lord steadfastly -- why would he be given yet another trial? Why must his soul sit among the lions?

This patient suffering also calls to mind those three brave men in the fiery furnace in Daniel. How courageous they were! On of the spine-tingling moments in Scripture for me is when they tell the king that their God is absolutely able to rescue them from the furnace's heat. Then they add (and I can hear the ringing certainty in their voices), "But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up."

They know He CAN. He's done it before. And they hope He WILL. But whether He does, or He doesn't, makes no difference in their faith or their obedience.

And the point of sitting among the lions, or standing in the flames -- waiting, unscathed, unsinged -- is not the testing of one's faith or trust. That's been done before. Now, it's the testimony. It's the words to the king.

It's the praise.

David says, "My soul is among lions; I must lie among those who breathe forth fire." He must LIE THERE! How often are you in a sore trial, and you find that you are required to stay there? How frustrating is that? And how much more frustrating still, when you've been through repeated trials. The conversation goes something like this:

"Oh, good grief, God. Again? Haven't we been through this enough times? You just WATCH, God, at how fast I move through all the various stages of proper faith. It'll take me all of 10 minutes." And it's true. When one has suffered greatly and often, it takes little time to become reacquainted with the familiar clothing of trust and faith. We settle quickly among our lions and sit in our flames.

But why are we there again?

Can you praise in your flames? Can you say with David, as he sits there, "Be exalted among the heavens, O God; Let Thy glory be above all the earth!"

As you wait, will you confess to all: "My heart is steadfast, O God. I will sing, yes, I will sing praises. Awake, my glory; awake, harp and lyre, I will awaken the dawn!"

How loud, how noticeably, does one have to praise, in order to wake the dawn?

Does everyone know your trouble, but no one know your praise?
SING among the lions; PRAISE among the flames.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

In downtown Hendersonville with the kiddoes --

Our traditional Wednesday afternoon trip to downtown Hendersonville always begins with a stroll through the Mast General Store. The children want only ONE THING: the huge barrels full of candy. Adam always needs a small bag of burnt bean candy, or something like that.

Downtown Hendersonville is full of statues, mostly bears and apples now. Here is a lone Indian, with two cute girls. Now that I look at it, he must be the proverbial "Cigar Store Indian."

Anna decided to mount this poor goat, another statue. This is outside Kilwin's Ice Cream Store, another favorite.

Adam was our driver, and sat as we roamed and shopped. We primarily strolled into eateries and toy stores, but Hendersonville has many interesting shops, blocks and blocks of them.

We ended with a visit to The Wrinkled Egg in Flat Rock. These girls seem to like to pose!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

For the Musical Among Us:

Here's a list of the music we are singing in the adult choir this week:

"Let All the World in Every Corner Sing" by R.V. Williams
"It Is Well with My Soul" arranged by Eric Nelson (who is also our director/clinician this week)
"Esto Les Digo" by Kinley Lange
"The Music of Thy Name" by Craig Courtney. It seems that no choral event is complete these days without its dose of Mr. Courtney. This is a lovely piece that we sang this morning in worship.
"Music Down in my Soul" arranged by Moses Hogan - the title says it all. This is an arrangement that will make you dance, if you have any rhythmic soul at all.
"Bound for the Promised Land" by Mack Wilberg
"When in Our Music God is Glorified" by Hal Hopson. The title of this one is also our theme for the week at the conference.

The concert is Friday at 7:00 PM, here at Bonclarken, in the Youth Activities Building. It's well worth hearing, even if all you get to see is about 75 high schoolers singing under the direction of Rollo Dilworth. And if you haven't had the pleasure of experiencing Mr. Dilworth's music, then you should really come!

Monday, July 13, 2009

We have arrived!!

We're at Bonclarken!! And we're so happy this year to be staying on the campus. Our housing is not elegant (more 40 year old camp-style), but it's adequate and very close to all our activities. Here's a shot of it:

One of our teens, Blake, keeps us all mellow with his guitar music. I love it.

I wanted a picture of the other teens, but they were too lazy to move. That is, until I said, "Everybody sit on Addison!" Then they moved :)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

I was reminded...

Of this beautiful psalm:

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from whence shall my help come?
My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand.
The sun will not smite you by day, nor the moon by night.
The LORD will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul.
The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth
and forever.

We all often cry out for help, sometimes into the thin air.
Does anyone hear us?
Christians know that God is the one, and often the ONLY one, who can help.
How can the writer say that God doesn't allow our feet to slip?
It certainly FEELS like I'm slipping, slipping away.
But He is holding me all the while. He's not distracted, not absent, not negligent.
If I need proof of that, I need only see how faithful He's been to His people for centuries. Certainly He can manage just me.

How comforting it is to know He keeps my soul.

I told Peter just this week that 30 years ago, I was a girl of 16. Young, with all of life before me.

And I added that, 30 years from now, I'll be 76. I know from my past that those 30 years will pass in a blink. Life is a flash, a moment, over so quickly.

But God keeps my soul. My soul that is immune to death, that will pass smoothly from this life into a longer one, without even a blip of panic or intermission. He keeps my soul.

So, all that going out? Coming in? He will ease my way forever.

He's slippin'

Poll results on President Obama's popularity among his people are showing quite a bit of movement - he's losing popularity. I was frankly surprised at how much ground he's lost in just a few months. It's a much-needed correction, but it's come rather quickly.

The Rasmussen Report gives the details.

The percentage who strongly approve of his work has slipped to 32%
The percentage who strongly disapprove has risen to 37%.

The gap is widening.

The percentage of people who approve in any way of his performance in office, has gone down to 52%. That's really not that bad (Bush's approval ratings sank to the teens!!), but for the first time, this number for Obama is below the 53% share of the vote he got in the election. He's losing his own voters too.

I'm not gloating over this. Granted, I don't agree with the man's worldview or his policies. But I've always felt that the wave of euphoria that swept him into office was a purely emotional one. That's great for weddings and honeymoons, but this is politics: crucial legislation and billions of tax dollars. It worried me that America was handing over the reins of power to a man, purely because they were enamored of him.

And that's the problem: the damp-napkin depth of the American people, at times. Especially at election times. They embraced him into office for emotional reasons, and they now begin to reject him for pocketbook reasons. It's clearly the continued downturn in the economy (and especially unemployment numbers) that is producing his decline. Americans enjoy political emotions for a while; they really care about their money, all the time.

Obama's policies will be expensive. I guess some Americans assumed that they would be expensive for somebody else. But even with jobs gone, and houses foreclosed, and hours cut, and businesses closing, he will continue to push through legislation that will cost Americans a fortune. Legislation that, I think, Americans are no longer sure they believe in. It sounded good then, but it feels bad now.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

"Heaven and Earth" - a book to shift the ground in climate science

I decided to look again at what's rumbling over in Australia about man-made global warming. On Google, I had to skim through a dozen links before finding this one from "Real Clear Politics."

Just as Americans are, Australians were looking down the muzzle of some costly legislation, advocated by environmentalists with doom's-day predictions about man-made global warming, predicting the end of life as we know it if carbon emissions weren't lowered dramatically.

In reply, an author named Ian Plimer wrote this book. "Heaven and Earth" apparently addresses a huge issue that many global warming pundits neglect: solar energy. By far the largest influence on Earth's climate is the sun's energy; why assume that man-made CO2 might produce change, without looking at a more likely source?

Plimer's book is selling like hot-cakes to Australians who are more than skeptical about legislation that will cost them a fortune. (Sound familiar?) I'll be interested to see how it does here. Of course, the global warming/environmental community will attack it, and its arguments. I look forward to seeing if it produces a firestorm of argument here as well.

But at $39.95, it may be a while before I read it.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Our church July 4th party:

A slippy slide is always in order for the kids. Even OLDER kids - that's Peter, the caboose after all those girls.

These two old geezers, not wanting to get wet, opted for horseshoes. Adam beat him!

Lacey came, and enjoyed much petting and loving.

Adam talks with friends. After GREAT food, there was lots of standing around and watching of children doing things that we don't do anymore :)

Our good friends, Jim, Pat and their son Phil. We had great fellowship and food on Sunday.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


Last night, we decided to do a little early celebrating of Independence Day, with sparklers, poppers and the nasty-looking "worms," out on the patio. Peter is mesmerized by his sparklers.

We used our torches to light them.

Tonight, July 4, we drove over to the local mall for their annual fireworks show. Guess what? We got there, drove around, and the whole mall parking lot was VACANT. Not a soul. Come to find out, they did the fireworks LAST night, on July 3. Completely bizarre - why NOT do it on July 4, the REAL holiday, especially when it falls on a Saturday night? Beats me. We drove home, disappointed and deflated. We lit a few more sparklers, and went to bed. Oh well!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Philip's Stone Wall

Philip's latest job has been to rebuild an old, low stone wall on the edge of our property. The wall had fallen and been overrun with ivy. He and Adam peruse the site:

Here's a portion of the wall he has dismantled, before rebuilding. We honestly need to get rid of that black plastic; you can see it did little to reduce weeds!

A little landscaping is obviously in order, now that we've pulled out the mass of weeds, etc., and straightened up the wall.

Clint and Lana

Here are photos of Sandy's parents, Clint and Lana (NO, that's NOT Clint Eastwood and Lana Turner!!) Their owner, Pam Harmon, gave me permission to lift these photos from her website, Nandina Shelties. You should check out her gorgeous puppy dogs! She does a fantastic job.
Here is the daddy, Clint. Isn't he gorgeous? He has done some competing, and you see him in the second photo being presented by Pam.

Here is Lana, Sandy's mama. This is the only shot I could find of her. She is a sweet, gentle-spirited lady with a dark face and deep, soulful eyes. Both parents seemed to enjoy watching us hold their puppies.