My song has no melody, so I hope you like the words

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Why Write, Take 2

I'm entering a contest at a website for aspiring writers, moderated by Jeff Goins, whose own website often motivates me. The following is an attempt to explain/expose my inner writer...
I've always wanted to write a book, which makes me just as unique as millions of other people who thought the same thing. Of course, I made lots of excuses for why I couldn't do it today, or this month, or this year. That is what millions of other potential writers have also probably said, so nothing else that follows will be unique either.
For whatever reason, it has recently occurred to me that I'm running out of time to make this dream into a reality. Maybe I just matured enough to realize it wasn't going to fall into my lap without some consistent effort, or maybe I'm finally growing up. I know one big thing that has changed is that I find my own story much less interesting than it once appeared, and so the desire to write about my own life has faded. (Are those sighs of relief I hear?) I enjoy writing poetry, but can't really see myself publishing most of it. Besides, if I ever did publish my own story or most of my poems, it would have to be done under a pen name to protect my privacy, and where's the fun in that?
There are ideas I think are important, and a gripping story is an effective way to communicate ideas. I have a story concept that I'm enjoying writing and that I hope someday others will enjoy reading. Sounds simple enough, right? Write something people want to read, and somehow the magic fairies will turn it into a book on the shelf at the local bookseller. What do you mean that's not how it works???
Now my mind is churning with concepts such as 'building your platform to get published', and 'utilize search engine optimization' and 'draft a powerful proposal', and 'self publish for success', and 'e-books or printing on demand', and.... excuse me while my brain explodes.
All I want to do is write, right? The process of stringing words together is intimidating enough for me, let alone all of the other tasks involved in getting a book into print. Lord, please help me focus on you first, and trust that all the rest will come together in your time!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

When a Man of God Compromises...

... the Word of God is shamed. I'm sitting here in tears over something I just saw on TV, grieving over what has become of our Christian leaders in this once great nation.
What I heard was a pastor saying he changed his mind about a biblical issue because he "heard from my base." He didn't hear from God, because God's Word on the issue is clear. There is behavior that is sinful, and sin should not be celebrated or "tolerated." It doesn't even matter what the issue was, though you can probably guess, given the recent headlines. Yesterday this pastor spoke out and he said he could no longer support President Obama and would not vote for him because the president has come out strongly and publicly supporting something that the Bible clearly condemns.
One day later, this supposed shepherd of God's people told the world that the opinions of men matter more to him than what God has said in the bible. He is Rev. Emmett Burns, PhD, pastor of The Rising Sun Baptist Church in Baltimore, and I feel sorry for the members of his congregation. Apparently Rev. Burns got a lot of calls today from his "base", and when he saw that standing on principle might be costly, he chose to deny what he knew in his heart to be true. It would have been better for all of them had Rev. Burns kept his opinions to himself in the first place, since he apparently didn't have the courage of his convictions or trust God to honor his faithfulness. Instead, a man of God has been revealed as just another guy who cares more about what people think of him than doing the right thing and standing on biblical truth. Great lesson to teach the flock that God put in your care, sir.
I'm sure that he got hammered today for speaking out. 97% of the black community is in lockstep support of President Obama. But gay rights are NOT the same as the rights regardless of color fought for by the civil rights movement. The level of melanin in your skin, or your ethnic background, is not something you choose or can change, anymore than you do your height or hair color [ok, many women do choose the latter]. All of us DO choose our behavior, and one day we will ALL be held accountable for that.
I wish that Rev. Burns had met Rev. C.L. Bryant, because he might have been able to encourage the older man that the fight was worth it. Pastor Bryant was raked over the coals for standing on principle, and is still proclaiming the truth fearlessly every day, despite receiving the same kind of attacks leveled at Rev. Burns. The difference is that Pastor Bryant chose to put his trust in God, not in the opinions of men. When I met him, he told me that the two issues he believed most of the Christian community could agree on were abortion and gay marriage. Sadly, he was proved wrong today.
Most of us will never be placed in the same position as Rev. Burns. But if I ever am, I pray that I will value God's opinion of me more than the world's.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Think On These Things

I wrote a post on Phil 4:8 a couple of months ago, from the perspective of dealing with pain and loss. Today I find myself reminded of this verse for another reason. My sons are home from college for the summer, and we've been having some wonderful late night conversations about the state of the world and our response. It is a blessing to hear the wisdom that comes from the mouths of these people that I once held in my arms. They are held by far stronger and wiser arms than mine these days, and it shows.
We've all done a lot of reading and listening this year, and been profoundly impacted by what we've learned. I often feel overwhelmed by it all, seeing so many issues that need to be addressed and feeling quite incapable of having any impact. My youngest son probably encouraged me the most, with a reminder of something he learned from a Frank Peretti lecture his literature class watched. Mr. Peretti spoke about the rebuilding of the wall in Jerusalem, and Dan took the lesson to heart.
Rebuilding the wall around an entire city was a huge task, far too much for any one person to accomplish on their own. Instead of looking at the whole wall, each worker was instructed to focus instead on their one section. He described the action of laying one brick at a time, spreading the mortar to hold it securely, then placing the next brick. One person, one piece of the whole. This makes sense, which is why I didn't think of it myself.
We want to be smart about how we lay our bricks, and want the wall we build to be straight and true. 'Many counselors make for wise decisions', and the books we read often provide that counsel. I am grateful for the teachers and friends who have pointed us toward many of these books.
To give you an idea what the shelves around here look like these days, here are some of the books we shared ideas from [in no particular order]:
The Bible, by God; Joni, By Joni Eareckson Tada; Free To Choose, by Milton Friedman; Something Beautiful For God, by Malcom Muggeridge; Why We Should Call Ourselves Christians, by Marcello Pera; Be Amazed, by Warren Wiersbe; Modern Times, by Paul Johnson; Scribbling in the Sand, by Michael Card; The Normal Christian Life, by Watchman Nee; Born Again, by Chuck Colson; How Do You Kill 11 Million People? by Andy Andrews; We Won't Get Fooled Again, by Jackson & Deace; Politics According to the Bible, by Wayne Grudem; A Patriot's History of the United States, by Schweikart & Allen
What books have been helping you build your section of the wall lately?
What books would you recommend to your fellow wall-builders?

Monday, May 7, 2012

What Is a Parent To Do?

As a mother, I often think about what kind of legacy I am leaving for my sons. As a Christian, my highest hope is that they will know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and have a lifelong relationship with Him long after I am gone. Beyond that, I want them to be like salt and light in their world, pointing others toward enduring truth. My words matter, but have my own actions showed them how it can be done? Have I not only talked about making moral choices, but modeled them as well? Have I showed them by my example what it means to be a good citizen, or how to have a positive impact on their community and world?
I've dedicated most of the past 25 years to those ends, through homeschooling and actively working in my church and local community. Now I look at the world around me and wonder what I've missed. The moral foundation of our culture has crumbled as "truth" has become whatever someone wants it to be, where our leaders say one thing and do another. Disrespect for life is rampant, the God-ordained institutions of marriage and family are belittled or transformed into something entirely different, the selfish ends seem to justify any means.
It would be easy to give up, or even worse become apathetic, and just retreat into my own safe little comfort zone. But I don't believe that is what God's people have been called to do. His command to Joshua was clear, "Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
As Americans we have the unique opportunity to choose those who will represent us. I believe it is our responsibility to choose wisely how we exercise that right. It is just as important to hold our representatives accountable, and that requires effort and discernment. Our input is needed. We need to be prepared to give wise counsel and not assume that others have done it for us.
You have two opportunities right now to make a positive difference in our state. Action is needed TODAY to let your Delaware State Representative know your opinion on the issue of parental rights regarding school health clinics. Go HERE for information on the bill and easy links to contact your Representative.
Tomorrow, school board elections are being held throughout the state. See my previous post for more information.
If you're tempted to let these opportunities slip away, please first ask yourself this: If not you, then who? If not now, then when?

Saturday, May 5, 2012

School Board Election May 8

As a veteran homeschooler, I must admit that local school board elections haven't been much of a priority. This year is different - my interest has been piqued by the obvious and excessive money being spent to garner my vote. Why the huge investment in a small race? Then I did a little research on the candidate and found a social progressive with big union money behind her, and decided it was time to pay attention.
On Tuesday, May 8th, you can make a difference. Delaware is holding 10 school board and referenda elections throughout the state. You only need to be a resident of the district to vote, and can vote at any location in your district. Go here for a quick source of official information.
In 2011, we spent $12,390 per student, with 126,801 students. Do the math, we spend about $1.5 Billion a year on our schools. With a 2010 population of 897,934, that means every one of us is pitching in about $1,750 a year. Are we getting our money's worth?
The most recent figures I could find rank us 6th in the nation for education costs. But our test scores are just average according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress
Our situation in the Christina District is far worse. We are ranked 15th of 15 districts statewide according to with a dropout rate of 7.8% last year. To put that in perspective, Delaware overall had the 5th highest dropout rate nationally in 2007-08 with a rate of "only" 6%.
Whether you are a student or not, as a taxpayer you have a vested interest in the quality and cost of education. Our future is being molded in the classrooms of today. Do you agree with how and what is being taught? Information on the candidates is not easy to find. The best resource I know of is the Delaware Family Policy Council. I also found general information with candidate statements here

Friday, May 4, 2012

Life of Julia - a Nightmare Come True

There is currently a slideshow at President Obama's reelection campaign website that sends chills of horror down my spine. Some pundits are making jokes about it, but honestly I'm way too appalled to see the humor. It was intended to gain support for him, but it had the completely opposite effect on me. It documents how the federal government, under Barack Obama's guidance, takes care of a fictional woman from age 3 to 67. A government that takes pride in having that much power in our lives frightens me, and does not at all resemble the freedom our nation once championed. I have no desire to live in a country where the government takes the place of a parent or spouse for a capable citizen from 'cradle to grave.'
The text that accompanies the slides is a gross distortion of reality. I know many people are making jokes about the whole presentation, but I'm much too upset about what it represents to laugh it off. Since when did we give a bloated bureaucracy the power to control every decision we make in life? Since when is it a positive thing for parents to relinquish the care and well being of their children to the state?
I think what troubles me most is that this campaign actually brags about playing the role of 'god', meeting all of this imaginary citizen's needs. Why depend on the real God, if a government program will do?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Serving, or a Disservice?
My son sent me this article from one of his college classes recently, and though it was new to me, it was written in 1989 and may be familiar to you. John McKnight's premise is that when agencies look at a community as being in need of 'services', they often damage the community as a whole. I encourage you to read the author's own words as they are more eloquent than my own.
My first reaction was, "Aha! I knew that government attempts to 'help' us were a bad idea!" I see the damage done to our inner city communities where the government has taken over the role of a parent. Communities that once functioned together despite their poverty have lost their sense of being able to provide for themselves. Why go to the effort of working together in difficulties if there is an agency of "professionals" that are not only willing to do it, but have convinced you they can do it better?
My second thought was to wonder how often I am guilty of the same assumptions on a personal level, and my righteous indignation melted away. I take seriously the biblical command to love my neighbor and serve others rather than seeking selfish gain. Sometimes I'm just not so good at being able to tell when I'm being helpful or when I am doing something the other person should do for themselves. Even worse, there have been times when I've given in to the temptation to help someone, and my help has only made their situation worse.
An intersection near my home hosts a parade of sorry looking souls holding up signs with some variation of 'will work for food', or 'down on my luck please help me.' I often see people reaching their hands out the driver's window to hand cash to whoever is collecting donations that day. I squirm in my seat and feel guilty for not doing the same, even though I know that most of the money probably goes to anything but food. I was once told by someone that ran a homeless shelter that they would actually kick out any of their guests who were seen panhandling in such a way, because the money invariable went to drugs or alcohol and the panhandler still showed up at the shelter for all their meals.
I'm not a heartless person, though, and it troubles me. How can I know if a person is truly in need, since only God can see the heart? Then I have to remind myself that God 'don't make no junk.' He created mankind and told us to fill and subdue the earth. Clearly he would not have told us to do something He knew we were incapable of doing. He made exceptions for widows, orphans, and the sick, but that's about it. I'm not doing anyone any favors by doing something for them that they are capable of doing for themselves. I only rob them of their dignity and self-respect.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Delaware's Next U.S. Senator

Kevin Wade was officially nominated last weekend as the Republican candidate for Delaware's U.S. Senate seat, and Tom Carper should be worried. His acceptance speech was an inspiring call for common sense conservatism, and a celebration of the people who have made this country great. Mr. Wade is a concerned citizen who has had enough of the damage done by career politicians like Senator Carper.
Many of us are concerned, but few have the experience to actually do something about the problems confronting our nation. Mr. Wade knows what it takes to succeed in what he called our "great country of boundless opportunity," having worked his way up from the steel mills of Pennsylvania to running his own engineering firm here in Delaware. His company has focused on problem solving in the energy industry, making him uniquely qualified to steer our country towards energy independence. He is a man of integrity with the kind of vision and problem-solving skills we need in Washington. We all know that Washington is broken, but our government won't change until we change the people running it. It is time for Delaware to elect a senator who will represent the people, not his political cronies.
Please take a few minutes to visit Kevin Wade's website for yourself, and learn why I am excited to support his candidacy.
Note: This blog reflects my own personal opinions and is independent of any party or candidate. However, in the interest of full disclosure I feel the need to state that other members of my family share my strong support for Mr. Wade and are actively working on his campaign.
His acceptance speech starts at 17:30, but the nominating speeches are great, too!