Monday, November 20, 2017

Thanksgiving

I'm so thankful this year for the wonderful people in my life, the opportunities I've been given, and most of all for my faith and assurance of God's love.
Can't wait to get people together!


Thursday, October 19, 2017

Travel Lessons

I learned one of my most important travel--and even life--lessons on my first big trip.  I was twenty, living abroad for some months with a group.  My family had never been travelers, so this was a big expedition for me.  Months of preparation and planning masked a fairly healthy dose of worry, at least from my mother. Anxiety basically shimmered off of her. But what I learned, and have seen proven over and over, is that what we fear quite often never happens.  On the other hand, things we never imagined can come up and smack us in the face. So, plan all you can; be an informed and resourceful, resilient traveler. But know that unexpected things will happen, especially when you factor in trains, planes, unfamiliar sites and language differences.

And for me, the most important resource: my faith and trust in God.  There is no substitute for resting in God's care.


Monday, October 16, 2017

World Food Day

Oct. 16 is World Food Day. Established by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 1945, the events of this day highlight the need for food security. This year's theme is "Change the future of migration. Invest in food security and rural development."

It's vital that all countries work together to address malnutrition and food insecurity throughout the world.  Until people can be assured of secure, sustaining food, how can we hope for social and political stability and peace?

Supporting communities and countries as they work to establish and maintain reliable food sources, medical care, sanitation, education, and housing helps us fulfill the expectation of Jesus that we would care for the "least of these" as we would for Jesus himself (Matthew 25:40).   It is a way to help build God's kingdom here in a broken world.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

We bought that outfit.

My grandkids live in other states, so I am usually following them on facebook and flickr. Fairly often I show my husband a picture and mention, before I go to the next, "Oh, and we bought her that outfit."  He doesn't care as much, but I love to see the little ones getting use out of something we gave them, something I chose because it was their favorite color or would be easy to play in as they scramble over the playground.  I even keep pictures of clothes I bought for them, because I realized, when they were babies, that I couldn't always remember which outfit I chose.


Sometimes I wonder if God feels a bit the same about some of the gifts he's given me. God likes to see me using them. Perhaps they've been given to me to help someone else and using them is an act of service and obedience.  But maybe they've also been given to bring me joy or comfort or validation.  In any case, employing my gifts celebrates God as giver and acknowledges my appreciation. It helps me feel closer to God.

And maybe God smiles. "I gave her that.  Glad to see she's getting use out of it."

Saturday, August 12, 2017

New School Year

Although it seems incredibly early, schools around here will be starting in a week. I'm wishing all the best for the teachers, students, and families.The photo below shows the grade card of a family member a generation or two back. I can even see his personality in the grades; he was brighter than his daily work reflected, since he tested better than his overall term grades. But maybe the tests proved something to him, since he improved as the year went on. Maybe a good teacher found a way to encourage him!


 

The average teacher spends $600 of their own money to enhance learning in the classroom.  If you go to DonorsChoose.org or AdoptAClassroom.org, you can support them by funding the purchase of supplies or equipment that the school cannot afford.  You can typically choose a project by school location, grade level, subject matter or financial need of the school population.  It's a great way to encourage teachers and students to do their very best in the coming year. 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Art in Thread and Dye

I spent the afternoon at the Dairy Barn in Athens, Ohio, an arts center that is currently displaying amazing quilts as fabric art.  I've always admired the traditional patchwork quilt designs, but these artists took the techniques of sewing and quilting to amazing new levels, creating intricate, original pieces as powerful and meaningful as any modern painting or sculpture.  I loved the textures and colors but particularly valued the reflections of the artists and the ideas and experiences they conveyed. They were not afraid to address deeply personal events or strong values.

I wish I could post just one of the works, but no photography was allowed, and I doubt that a photo could do any of the works justice.

The experience reminded me of how much imagination and creative expression mean to me.  I've been consuming a lot of mass market books, TV and music lately.  Maybe it's time I challenged myself as I did when I was younger.  It may not make me much better as a writer. I don't think I'm capable of art; I'll be lucky to tell a decent story. But it does my spirit good to stretch, and that is important, whatever I may "produce" from it.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Challenge Reads

I posted recently about comfort reads.  I also want to pay tribute to the "challenge reads" -- books that shaped my values and my heart for the vulnerable in this world.  One of the earliest and most lasting influences has to be Charles Dickens. His passion for social justice, his mockery of the pompous and selfish, his defense of the underprivileged and his idealism have always moved me.


That Dickens could combine his social vision with such humor and rattling good plots has always amazed me. 

Another powerful author who shaped my values is Camus. In his novel The Plague Camus studies people facing evil, making choices to act in solidarity with others or to protect themselves. He never offers easy or pat answers. Other authors I admire include John Steinbeck, Voltaire, the poets of World War I, and Remarque, author of All Quiet on the Western Front. 

Many of these authors were not Christian, as I am. But their courageous confrontation of the evils of this world and their dedication to calling out the best in their readers resonate in my spirit. I would not want to spend my life only reading safe "Christian" books that may speak well of individual needs for faith or trust in God but refuse to address the injustice, the cruelties, and the failures of this world.  

I don't want to hide away in only books that comfort me.