family


Are they listening?Do you ever wonder if kids “get it“?

Recently I have been examining my life and what kind of parent I have been so far. The results have been less than inspiring. My GPA in Parenting would be only slightly higher than the average GPA of those boy’s from Delta house… before the Toga Party.

Sometimes you wonder, “Am I doing the right thing?” “Do they understand?” “Am I getting through?” Especially now that they are teen-agers, I wonder, “Am I doing everything the best I can?” “Will they be scarred for life?!” or “Will they be okay in spite of my failings and poor parenting?” The angst of parenting…

Then from out nowhere comes a Bolt of lightning  that illuminates your self-imposed Apocalyptic scenario and fills your heart with hope. Hope that they “get it” and you are not a complete dismal failure as a parent (just a partial dismal failure). I had one of those moments today as I listened in on the raving and ranting of my teenage daughter. A bad day at school was compounded by her having a sore throat and not feeling too well. She was in rare form and far from being dismayed about her tirade I was completely ecstatic!

Why, you may ask, was I overjoyed to hear my teen-age daughter on the warpath? It was the subject matter that had me completely enthralled. I would like to quote her and let you hear what had me cheering her on. She was on a roll about what had taken place in one of her classes today (and probably more than just one of them). I have to preface these remarks by stating my children attend a Private Christian School. Here’s what she was going on about…

I’m sick of people not listening in class. All they do is go to school to socialize. Yeah, you have friends there, but class time is not socialize time unless you’re NOT doing anything as a class! They don’t care about their grades, which will be sad when they try and get into college because they won’t be able to. Then, they will blame it on other people, when really the only ones to blame will be them selves. They can’t even shut-up long enough to hear anything that is going on in class. I just want to tell them, ‘Why waste your parents money if you’re not going to do anything? Also, the teachers need more respect than that because the are spending their time to help us… when they could be doing another job for less hassle. If you want to socialize then go to a public school where at least you are not wasting your parents hard earned money.’”

Wow! You go girl! This is from my little girl? My little ‘freshman’?

Cha-ching! She gets it, she really gets it! Boo-yaa! Game, Set, Match!

This is not coming from a wall flower either, this little firebrand is outgoing and very social. Yet, she knows her goals and she realizes that the game began on the first day of class, this her freshman year. The clock is ticking and we are keeping score. From this point forward she is racing toward college and she can see that what she is doing now, does count. That is why she got so upset with her classmates today, their selfishness is not just hurting them but it hurts her and all the rest who are counting on good grades to help them get to college.

That’s the kind of argument that makes a parent proud!

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DNA

Australia’s Daily Telegraph recently published this story about a lawsuit brought against an IVF clinic by Aussie parents because doctors failed to identify a “cancer gene” in a procedure known as “preimplantation genetic diagnosis”.

According to the Telegraph:

Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, or PGD, was pioneered by Victorian scientists, and the controversial gene screening has been embraced by fertility clinics around Australia and the world.  It is billed as a way of reducing the incidence of deadly genetic diseases, including more than 30 inherited cancers, cystic fibrosis, deafness and blindness.  Dozens of Australian children have been born using the controversial technique, which has triggered ethical and legal debate over whether scientists should be allowed to “play God'”.  The tests are carried out on an IVF embryo when it has eight cells. A single cell is removed and DNA tested for gene mutations.  The mother who is suing produced eight IVF embryos for genetic testing. Of the embryos tested, only two were given the all-clear for implantation. The others were discarded.

Doctors reportedly assured the parents that their child would not have a hereditary, cancer-causing genetic mutation.  The doctors were wrong, and now the child has a high probability of developing cancer at some point in his life.

Stories like this shine a clear spotlight upon the ethical minefield of modern genetics.  Since the successful mapping of the human genome in 2003, scientists have been working feverishly to identify genetic predispositions to diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.  As further discoveries are made and technology continues to develop, a host of ethical problems will arise.  It’s hard to imagine, that in the not-too-distant future, human beings will be “genetically designed” not to develop cancer.  Perhaps we will never discover a cure for cancer because there will be no need: people will simply be immune to it.

But why stop at cancer?  Why not “turn off” the gene that gives rise to obesity as well?  And while we’re at it, let’s make sure that the genes are arranged to produce intelligence and a balanced personality.  Then maybe we can tweak the genes that will determine personal appearance – because after all – who wants to have an unattractive child when they could have otherwise?

  1. So how about it?  Would you allow your child to be “genetically vaccinated” against cancer or other diseases? 
  2. What about obesity? 
  3. Below (or even average) intelligence? 
  4. An introverted personality? 
  5. Unattractiveness?

I’m quite sure that I could go along with number one.  I’m not so sure about two.  The rest of this list gets progressively more scary.  What do you guys thing about it?

 (Continued from Part 1)

She felt acceptance and freedom for the first time. The joy was beyond her ability to contain as the tears rushed forth.

It really seemed too good to be true. Gomer began her knew life with a mixture of emotions. The stern glances from her in-laws, the piercing gaze of the priests and the cursory glances from men in the market couldn’t divert her new-found joy. Hosea was the man she had always longed for and he truly loved her. He brought her out of the desperation and despair she had always known. She was his choice and he was hers. She followed him into this new life of godliness and purity. She learned to carry herself differently and to talk differently. She listened to his prayers and followed his leading. She went to synagogue with him whenever it was appropriate. But the scars and memories of her past followed her, reminding her of where she had been and, frightfully, who she had been. Not many months passed and Gomer bore Hosea a son – God was blessing them even with her past, and they seemed to be so happy.

But as the sands of time shifted, something in Gomer’s soul began to change. She was different somehow. The love she had for her savior cooled and other attractions stole her mind. She began to speak of her old life differently than she had before. She remembered the pleasures she had enjoyed and the gain she had been afforded as her affection for her husband subdued. The pleasures that her old life use to afford her became forefront in her mind, fleeting though they were, as struggles of life in the ministry seemed to lack the luster she once knew. This daughter of Diblaim began to grow weary of living the life of a budding, young preacher’s wife. Hosea was absent from the home more than she thought appropriate as he sought to fulfill Jehovah’s mission of preaching to the nation of Israel. Gomer began to resent his ministry. How could he love his God more than he loved her?

Then, a baby girl was born. But, Hosea was suspicious. He had noticed a coolness in Gomer’s gaze. She didn’t talk with him the way she once had. Hosea named this new little girl Loru-hammah: “no mercy.” The strain he felt with his wife depicted the strain Jehovah was feeling with His people, and Hosea used this opportunity to express this burden from the Lord.

It was long after Loru-hammah was born that Gomer bore another son, but Hosea was convinced – this was not his child! In his jealous rage he called him Lo-ammi, meaning “not my people.” What turmoil must have been in his home, what public disgrace! There was tension every night. Bitterness ate at the prophet’s heart, how could she do this to him, after all he had done for her? How could she return to her old life after he had risked everything to rescue her from her shame? And yet, he found he still loved her. He cared for her and even provided for her though she had betrayed him.

On one particular occasion, Hosea caught Gomer in the very act of her promiscuous crime. Her guilt ravaged her cold heart. She thought, “Surely, he will never accept me back after this! How could I be so unfaithful, so virulent … after he has loved me so?”

Hosea begged his wife, his beloved bride, to forsake her false loves, to turn from her proverbial broken cisterns and embrace the fountain of his love once again. But it was too late. Gomer’s actions had propelled her into slavery and temple prostitution once more. What bondage her treachery had brought upon her and what despair overwhelmed her mind!

She had reached the bottom again. The one place she hated the most, the bondage she feared the most, was upon her once more and she could blame no one but herself. She had come to the end of herself. “How could I have forsaken the only true love I have ever known? If only I could see my sweet Hosea’s face again. If I could be but a doorkeeper outside his door and hear his voice in the cool of the evening. If I could just be in his presence once again, how things would be different!” On her knees, sobbing inconsolably through her desperation, she cried, “If only I could be near him again!” She wept herself to sleep.

The next evening found Gomer abject as she trudged to the temple courtyard once more. Her emaciated figure and jaded countenance wore the pain and disgrace of her transgressions. The crowd hushed eerily as she approached the stage, repulsed by her revolting form. Gomer stared at the ground as the priest once again prepared to offer her to the highest bidder. She shuddered as she braced herself for the surly reaction from the crowd.

“We have real treat for you tonight men of Baal,” the priest snarled. “One has come back to us from the ranks of Jehovah. It seems that even Jehovah’s prophets can’t keep their own from the power and influence of our great Baal. This one you may remember. She was once one of your favorites … tonight, it is my pleasure to offer to you and to our great Baal, Gomer, the wife of Hosea, prophet of Jehovah.” At this the crowd went wild, laughing and jeering hysterically. What a joke this Gomer and her prophet husband were! Surely Baal must love what he is seeing now!

“I will buy her back” the echoing voice came from the back of the assembly interrupting the blasphemous uproar. “15 pieces of silver and an homer and a half of barley… this is all I have. She is my wife and I will purchase her back from you for this price.” Gomer couldn’t believe what she had heard. Could it be? “Hosea, is that you?” she gasped as her eyes surveyed the crowd. Then she saw him … him whom her soul longed for, her husband and only savior! Him whom she had betrayed so many times. She instinctively dropped to her knees. She couldn’t look at him, what is he doing here? Does he want to punish me, to humiliate me more, to stone me for all that I have done to him? The answers came as Hosea approached the stage. “I will buy her for myself, for the Lord God Jehovah says unto you, children of Israel, ‘Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.’”

The prophet continued, “And Gomer, I say unto you, ‘You must dwell as mine for many days. You must not play the whore, or belong to another man; so will I also be to you.” The crowd stood strangely silent. Hardened, calloused men felt tears stinging their eyes. Even the priest loosened his grip at the power of this unfailing love. Could this be real? Could a man love in this way? Can love bear in all this, believe in all this, hope in all this, and endure in all this? Can this be real?

Gomer, still gazing at the ground, afraid to move fearing this might all be a dream, felt a strong hand upon her shoulder and a soft robe across her back. As she looked upward her glance caught the eyes of her husband and friend. “Oh Hosea, I am so, so sorry. I don’t deserve to be called your …” “Gomer, my love, hold your peace. I have loved you from the beginning and I will love you until the end. I want you to be mine and I will be yours. I have bought you back. Come with me. Let’s go home.”

Gomer never did completely understand the love of her husband toward her. She would often wonder at the way he would look at her and why he would always want to be by her side. But one thing is sure, she never doubted that he loved her. She knew that she could always trust in his love … a love that never fails.

Hosea 14:4-9 “I will heal their apostasy; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them. I will be like the dew to Israel; he shall blossom like the lily; he shall take root like the trees of Lebanon; his shoots shall spread out; his beauty shall be like the olive, and his fragrance like Lebanon. They shall return and dwell beneath my shadow; they shall flourish like the grain; they shall blossom like the vine; their fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon. O Ephraim, what have I to do with idols? It is I who answer and look after you. I am like an evergreen cypress; from me comes your fruit. Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is discerning, let him know them; for the ways of the LORD are right, and the upright walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them.” ESV

Her name was Gomer. It means “corruption.” And rightfully so; you see, Gomer was a temple prostitute. Her duty was to give the worshipers what they wanted and not to complain about it. She had been a slave to this lifestyle who knows how long. She was most likely sold into the business as a child. This was her life. To many Gomer was nothing more than a pretty face, a commodity to be used up and thrown away. At best she was a religious sacrifice unto various deities of fertility.

Diblaim, Gomer’s father had been born into one of the darkest times in Israel’s history. God’s chosen people, Israel, under the rule of Jeroboam the II, had adopted the sensual worship of Baal. Gomer was one of hundreds of temple prostitutes who may have been captured or sold into temple prostitution. A slave to false religion and debauchery she was calloused beyond her years. The priests were the ones who promoted this wickedness in the name of Jehovah. A mixed worship such as this conveniently promoted their own lusts and quenched their inner guilt as they carefully crafted the God of their fathers into their own image.

Gomer tried her best to please the priests. But no matter how much she tried to obey, it was never enough. The frequent physical and verbal abuse was almost as difficult to endure as the nights were. But, the aching in her soul for love was more than she could bear.

And so she tried to find love. She longed to be accepted for who she was … to be important to someone. Gomer felt she never could do enough. Often, she would pray and cry to Baal, hoping that he would be pleased with her service. She always felt so distant from him. Sometimes anger filled her soul because of the bondage and enslavement he caused her; she wondered if he knew her thoughts. What if he was punishing her for her anger toward him? She was plagued by guilt. No matter what she did, nothing would cause the dreadful shame to go away.

Even her name seemed to punish her. Gomer … corruption … the very sound of it was condemning. She wondered if it angered people when they found out what her name was. She was corruption. She so desperately wanted someone to accept and forgive her, but she felt she would never taste of true acceptance and love. Some of the men seemed to love her at first. They would buy her food and wine, lotions and oils. One man even gave her gold and silver jewelry. But the attention would always come to an end. The love just wouldn’t last.

Until one day … It all started just as any other evening. She was frantic – not by choice. The priests were horrible taskmasters. Men were already gathering outside. She made her way systematically through her preparations. Her hair, her face … everything had to be just perfect or she knew what the priests would do. She had long since learned to be prepared for evenings such as this one.

It was her turn. As she stepped reluctantly before the libidinous gaze of the temple gathering, something was different. There was a strange sense of caution in the crowd. She scanned the rabble as she had done so many times before and recognized most of the faces. One individual she knew was here for her and a shudder went down her spine as she recalled his rough visage.

But a new face was in the crowd. This man was obviously different from the others. He was wearing a long robe and he carried a small purse at his waist. There was a mysterious look in his eyes. His piercing gaze caught Gomer’s attention and she felt as if this stranger could read her thoughts. He had a look on his face like one she’d never seen before, it was as though he were sent there by Someone, as if he were on a mission that was greater than even he could understand.

The bidding began in the usual way. The priest was anxious to be rid of this daughter of Diblaim and to get on to the more profitable merchandise. Just when all the bids had ceased, a figure stood from the back of the courtyard. The mysterious man spoke with a voice that was clear and strong, “100 pieces of silver!” The crowd burst into an uproar. No one had ever offered so much for an harlot, it was unheard of. Someone was heard over the rumbling of the crowd, “Who would pay that for a harlot, especially for Gomer?” The insult stung, but she was accustomed to it and pretended not to hear. Another answered, “You’re not going to believe this, it’s the prophet Hosea! What does he want with a harlot?” The priest handling the auction spoke hastily trying to calm the mob, his cold grip on Gomer’s arm as he motioned to the assembly, “Well, I believe it IS Hosea, the prophet of Jehovah. Tell us, Hosea, what do you want with an harlot? Are you going to stone her as Moses commanded?” The jeering crowd erupted into a muffled cackle. The prophet was calculating in his response recognizing the pitfall. The crowd hushed to hear his answer. “This woman shall be my wife! The Lord hath said, ‘Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the LORD. So I will purchase her to me for 100 pieces of silver.”

A thousand thoughts were flooding Gomer’s mind. “The Lord wants a prophet to marry me? This man wants to marry me? Will I never have to be a prostitute again?” As she stood in silence, tears filled her eyes. It was too good to be true! No one had ever paid so much for her before. And certainly, no one had ever wanted her to stay with him. She had always been turned away by every other man as an old garment when it is soiled beyond further use. “Will he love me?” she wondered. “What kind of man would give this fortune to marry a prostitute? What kind of God would send such a man into my life? Could such a dream really come true?”

As Gomer’s mind raced, Hosea was already in action. He reached the platform with that same steady look in his eye. His hand outstretched, there was a question in his eyes, “Will you marry me as God has commanded?” It needed not to be said. Gomer was afraid she would fail as a wife, she was afraid of the unknown, her fear almost paralyzed her. But she knew she had never experienced such love before. With one last glance at the crowd she stepped toward the strange man. Quickly the prophet lifted her trembling body and covered her shame with his own robe. She felt acceptance and freedom for the first time. The joy was beyond her ability to contain as the tears rushed forth.

MoneyI am writing this post to encourage us all to consider what God has to say about money.  A few years ago I found myself in some financial trouble and decided to research each of the Bible references regarding finances.  I discovered the Bible has a lot to say about this subject.  This post is a brief synopsis of some of the Scriptures that have been a help to me as I have sought to honor God with my resources. 

One of the basic principles of Scripture is that God owns everything. (Haggai 2:8; Psalm 50:9-10)  We know as the Creator (Hebrews 11:3) he ultimately has the right to demand our time, talents and resources be spent for His glory.  I Corinthians 6:19-20 teaches that all we are is His.  Should the creation say to the Creator, “I will take what you have made from you and use it only for my pleasure?”   This principle of God’s ownership is basic to understanding how to handle our money God’s way.

Another principle from Scripture that is foundational when it comes to money is that God gives and takes away as He pleases.  (Job 1:21)  God is sovereign in this physical matter just as He is in spiritual matters.   This truth will remind us not to take pride in our monetary successes. (I Corinthians 4:7; Deuteronomy 8:18)  This will also help us not to worry in failure if we’ve done our best. (Matthew 6:26) 

A third Scriptural principle is that God does often entrust wealth to the faithful. (Matthew 25:21, 24-30; I Corinthians 4:2)  A man or woman of God who can have wealth and use it as God would desire, without becoming enslaved by its power, is truly a faithful steward.  We should all strive to be worthy of this honor, not simply to gain God’s material blessing, but so that we might be used to further His kingdom.

A fourth Biblical principle is that God wants us to earn a living.  (I Timothy 5:8)  Proverbs 11:1 teaches that a wise man delights in good business.  Proverbs 28:19 says a wise man delights in hard work and Proverbs 21:20  commends a wise man for delighting in saving his money for the future (Proverbs 30:25).  Also, Proverbs 24:3 says a wise man delights in planning and being prepared. (Proverbs 6:8;22:3)

Here are some guidelines of what to do with God’s money when He gives it to us:

  • Know where you stand by developing a family budget. (Proverbs 27:23)  This will help you know if you are able to save or if you are spending too much.  Also, determine if you have enough of an emergency fund (at least 3 months of aafter-tax income). (Proverbs 6:8)  Christians have often brought reproach on the name of Christ when they are not prepared financially for the unexpected.  Ask yourself, do you have unsecured debt?  Tackle your highest interest rate first and pay down your unsecured debt as soon as possible. (Romans 13:8)  As Christians, we are to be ready to do whatever God commands and be free to follow his lead.  We can’t do this if we have debts that we couldn’t easily pay off.  Finally determine if you are protected against catastrophes?  Do you have adequate health/life insurance, disability insurance, and long-term care insurance?  While these were not available in Bible times, we see principles from Scripture that would lead us to protect our families from these financial “catastrophes”. (Proverbs 22:3)   
  • Realize how much is enough and learn to say “no”. (Philippians 4:12)  You don’tnecessarily need to take that higher paying position or that extra job.  Buying a new car is not always necessary.  But this is not popular in our culture today.  Covetousness is rampant in the 21st century, to deny this is to proverbially hide your head in the sand.  Scripture doesn’t condemn desiring money.  But it does condemn loving money.  Your motives are the key.  (I Timothy 6:10)  
  • Control your spending.  (Galatians 5:22-23) Ask yourself, “Do I really need that thing?” and “Is there something God wants me to do with His money besides buy that thing?” (I Co 10:28)
  • Set up your work before you establish your home. (Proverbs 24:27)  It is better to go on to college and establish your career before you marry and have children.
  • Never cosign a loan you’re not ready to pay! The Bible strictly warns against this.  (Proverbs 17:18)
  • Give generously, freely and sacrificially to those in need (I John 3:17) and give a tithe (tenth) of your income to God’s work at your local church.  The tithe was actually a form of taxation among the Jews during Old Testament times.  (Leviticus 27:30, Deuteronomy 12:6, Deuteronomy 14:28)  While the tithe was not specifically commanded to the church by the apostles, the principle of giving to God’s work still applies. And 10% is only a starting point.  The early church gave all they had! (I Corinthians 16:1-2; II Corinthians 9:5-7)  They gave until it caused them personal suffering, they gave sacrificially.  (II Corinthians 8:2-3)

In 1744 John Wesley wrote, “When I die if I leave behind me ten pounds… you and all mankind can bear witness against me, that I have lived and died a thief and a robber.” When he died in 1791, the only money mentioned in his will was the miscellaneous coins to be found in his pockets and dresser drawers. Most of the 30,000 pounds he had earned in his lifetime he had given away. As Wesley said, “I cannot helping leaving my books behind me whenever God calls me hence; but in every other respect, my own hands will be my executors.”  Wesley believed as one’s income goes up so should his standard of giving, not his standard of living.

I believe if we follow these principles in handling money we will be blessed and bring honor to Christ Jesus.  May we apply these Scriptures to our lives so that we can bring more glory to Him.

Momma called the doctor and the Doctor said…

“No, OZ never did give nothin’ to the Tin Man, that didn’t, didn’t already have.”Dr. Bombay

Much like the Tin Man they found today that I do actually have a heart.  It’s right where it is supposed to be and is doing all the things it is supposed to do.  So I’m wondering if maybe I’m actually the Scarecrow, “If I only had a brain?”  Cause the thoughts that I’d be thinkin’ while-a drivin’ in ma’ Lincoln if I only had a brain… or the winning Power Ball lottery ticket from this week.

They “STILL” don’t know why my legs look like Charlie Brown’s Macy’s Day Parade balloon legs.  At this point I would consider taking a stick pin to them but what happens if they take off like a balloon.  I can see me bouncing off the walls, ceiling, taking a few laps around the ceiling fan and sputtering to a halt on the piano.  I can hear my daughter Elizabeth now, “Do it again Daddy, do it again!” 

              Technology is wonderful, I got to watch my heart in action today, amazing.  Well, I mean, I didn’t actually see my heart (that would have been messy) but I saw an image of my heart.  You know, a sonogram, just like they do with babies.  And yes, I did have her check, and no, I am not pregnant (it just looks like I am) thank you very much.  I tried to get her to make me an audio recording of that rhythm, it sounded just like conga line music… bum bum   bum bum   bum   ba!  bum bum   bum bum   bum   ba!  Wait, scratch that, I can’t dance, I’m Baptist. (And possibly a little too nerdy) So why did you email me?  What do you want?  Come on chop, chop I haven’t got all morning.  Hummm?  What’s that?  Oh!  Yea, I’m emailing you aren’t I?       

Ok, one more thing and I’ll be done. (yep, I’m Baptist alright)

When they were taking all my information they have one of those talking scales and all it said was “Uncle! Uncle!”  But they said my weight was normal… for someone 7’ 1” tall. 

Then came the questions: 

 “Do you smoke?”

            “No”

“Do you drink?”

“Is this a trick question?

“I mean do you drink alcoholic beverages?”

“No”

“Do you take drugs, illegal drugs?

“No”

“Do you exercise?”

“No, I kicked the habit years ago.”

“And it shows.”

“Thank you for noticing.”

“Hard not to, twins?

“Why yes, a boy and a girl.”

“How far along?

“Fourteen years.”

“That long?  I wouldn’t have guessed more than the second trimester.”

“Oh you mean that!”

“Yea! that!”

“I’m rather attached to that, it may not be fly but it is phat!” 

(I think I impressed her with my knowledge of pop culture terms and Ebonics.  But then again I also left an impression on the chair in which I was sitting.”uncle! uncle!”)

Say Goodnight Gracie,

“Goodnight Mrs. Calabash where ever you are!”

Catchy Title, eh? “A Movie review:”So, What fare are we serving up today?

“Because of Winn-Dixie”

I was shocked! I tell you absolutely shocked, to find out tonight that there are actually some people who have not yet seen, “Because of Winn-Dixie.”

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This movie is a Southern fried humdinger!

When I first sat down to watch a Family Night movie titled, “Because of Winn-Dixie” I thought yea, ok, I’ll endure this and then we’ll get to a good movie. I found myself eating that sentiment and walking away thoroughly satisfied. I had not read the book so I had no idea what I was about to see. We liked so much we bought it and have re-watched it on several occasions.

The story is about a preacher, his daughter Opal, her adopted dog Winn-Dixie, and the adventures, and friendships forged one summer in a small southern town. Between Opal and Winn-Dixie we see the greatest adventure of all, that of people and relationships. We see the tender heart of a child who wants to know why her momma left her and her daddy on the one hand, but who refuses to become scarred , cynical and jaded by that loss. We see how simple acts of kindness change all those who come within Opal and Winn-Dixie’s sphere of influence.

Far from being a Pollyanna, Opal is a real kid with real hurts and real questions. Her character is powerfully endearing and reminds us that people crave fellowship with others and will respond when given the opportunity. The charming innocence and childlike wonderment of Opal is contagious, and the simple honesty of child and dog quickly affects all those this dynamic-duo come into contact with.

This is real entertainment. No flash, no glitz, no glam… just a purity that speaks to the heart. This is the way movies should be. Two thumbs up!

Things have been going by so fast that this review was posted in 2007 before it was written… the universe has finally caught up to my time in reality, and here is last year in review.

2007

 

Wow, another year has past. I thought this year we would do one of those Christmas letters.

My problem is remembering what was significant… or even what actually happened this year.

 

This was our first full year since mom’s home going. It has been an emotional rollercoaster, from out of nowhere would come a flood of memories, or an huge dose of reality would steamroll us. The hardest part is going over to the house and trying to clean up. So many memories. But mom left us with the greatest gift of all, a testimony of her Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. I would not call mom back to this world of pain and suffering, that she knew all too well, even if I could. Her joy is complete in Jesus Christ now. She cannot return to us but she showed the way she went and invited others to believe on Jesus Christ so that we could see her again some day. I am looking forward to that reunion.

This summer we took our vacation in Atlanta Georgia. The main event was a Braves game. Before passing Mom had made me promise to get the kids to a Braves game as soon as we could. She had wanted to go herself but her health was just too bad. So we went to a game the day before the first anniversary of her passing. I remember thinking about how that would play in a Master Card commercial: Trip to Atlanta $$, Tickets to a Braves game $$, Hot dogs and a drink $$$$$$, The memories of a promise kept… priceless.

Children are such a blessing!

I have always thought it was amazing that I have had children who were born in different years (obviously), different decades (1990‘s, 2000‘s), different centuries (1900, 2000), and different millenniums(2nd and 3rd AD) and had twins to boot! 

Can you believe that the twins had the in-class portion of Driver’s education this year??? They are freshmen in high school this year. That can’t be right… but alas ‘me babes’ are suddenly ‘me teens‘. She played both JV and Varsity Volleyball this year. He has been on Varsity Baseball since 7th grade and he made JV Basketball again this year. (He played soccer last year as a fill in, but sat out this year. The soccer team all wanted him to play again this year. Maybe he will play again next year.)

Our little one started pre-school this year. I just turn around and it is another milestone in one of their lives. She is attending pre-school at RHRBC. That is the church I grew up in. Talk about a flood of memories!! The old building is gone but just being there evokes some strong memories of Mom and Dad; good memories.

This year marked two decades my wife has put up with me. She is either incredibly brave and loyal or dain bramaged. She is an incredible woman and a wonderful mother. Right now she is in the hospital recovering from surgery. Everything went very well, the operation was a success, and she is doing very well and may get to come home soon. She can recuperate here at home over the Christmas and New Years holidays.

I guess that leaves me to talk about. How can one describe such legendary grandeur in the mere fifteen lines left on this page? You can’t. It is impossible! Think of the Grand Canyon, the vast Atlantic Ocean, and then think of them being filled… with me, and you can begin to imagine my …. What my pants must daily endure.

You know, they say there are four stages of a man’s life:

1> You believe in Santa Clause.

2> You stop believing in Santa Clause.

3> You play Santa Clause.

4> You look like Santa Clause.

I have reached stage four; beard, belly and all. Ho, Ho, Ho!

So, there you have it, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly (maybe I’ll get a copy of that for Christmas) from Us to you.

Seriously, we wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas (while we are still allowed to say Christmas) and a Happy New Year.

D,T,K,D & E

I just finished a novel by Naomi Ragen, titled, ”The Covenant.”  I happened across this book while wandering through a local thrift store.  I was strongly compelled to pick it up and I read the dust jacket.  Then, I randomly scanned a few pages.  I have not regretted my purchase.  I believe the dedicatory says it better than I, concerning the purpose of this book and the story Ms Regan weaves so well. 

 “For all victims of terror, and those who loved them.  May God Comfort all mourners and wipe the tears from all faces”. 

This is an intensely personal representation of those whose lives have been devastated by terrorism. (Ms Regan and her family were present at the Passover Massacre in the Park Hotel in Netanya in 2002 when a suicide bomber killed twenty-nine and wounded hundreds.) The conflict “continues” as we are introduced to the characters:  A Jewish doctor, his wife (who is in the latter stages of a difficult pregnancy), and their daughter come face to face with a horror that seems too awful to bear.  It is also a story of survival that spans generations.  The young wife’s grandmother was a survivor of Auschwitz and we see in her and her three friends what it means to be a survivor, and the bond that developed between them, making them family and more.  We see how these four made a covenant, while in Auschwitz, that will affect all their lives in this crisis. 

Ms Regan does a wonderful job developing the characters, plot and conflict quickly.  The use of time, date, location stamp at the beginning of each chapter and major scene change keeps you on track with the flow and interdependence of the themes and story line.  The indomitable spirit of these characters who refuse to be mere victims of such a cowardly act of terrorism is the strength of the story.

Personally, there were passages that made my blood boil with the desire to extract vengeance on the ideologues who in their ignorance and self-deception, aid cowardly fanatics in their terrorist agendas.  There were passages of great empathy for the main characters who were dealing with a situation that I would find unbearable.  She does an outstanding job of relating the politics of lies and the international bias against Jews and how Israel and the Jewish people are portrayed in the media and on the world stage.

By the time I finished the book I felt I knew the characters and had lived through this ordeal with them, but then it struck me like a bolt of lightening:  This is the story of all those who have been attacked by terrorists.  I was stunned to research the shear number of Israelis who have been attacked by such terrorists since the intifada Arafat started after Sharon visited the Temple Mount.   I wept for all those who have suffered because a few old terror mongers realized that by perpetuating lies and keeping a population disenfranchised and oppressed (mainly through their own greed and corruption) they could maintain political control and get rich in the process.  (I digress)    I wept for Israel and I wept for Jerusalem.   Shaalu Shalom Yerushaliim.

computerbrain.jpgI just woke up, I think.  It is a lazy Sunday afternoon with plenty to do, I guess, but nothing pressing.  I believe I am now awake because I see more clearly, feel the carpet under my bare feet, hear my children playing downstairs, and sense the urge to yawn.  My body seems to be more responsive than it was 10 minutes ago.  But am I awake?  Am I realy alive? 

Could it be that I am simply a product of billions and trillions of molecules colliding together from some prehistoric explosion.  Maybe this explosion is going to happen again in a few minutes or maybe it just happened and my memory is playing tricks on me.  Maybe I’m not here but just think I am here because of some stimulus reacting with what is here (not me).  Could it be that what is here is all there is and my senses are telling me of the only things that exist.  In any case, I am sure I would not be able to think this way very long or else I would drive myself crazy.  My reaction to these thoughts is this: if I followed them to their natural end, could I go on living?  I cannot cause myself to strive for greatness or discover intelligence or to love my family, care about others, or experience sorrow over my mistakes, if what my senses tell me is all there is.  Pragmatically, materialism doesn’t work for me.  I don’t think it really works for anyone.  Maybe you are able to accomplish much believing only in what you can sense, but not me.  I don’t want to do anything really when I think this way except lie in bed.  But I have a hard time sleeping without coming to some resolution.  I don’t see how anyone would sleep at night without a hope of something beyong this dimension of experience. 

It is my hope and prayer that there is really another Life out there.  I know that when I have believed in this Life I have experienced the most fulfilling life in the here and now.  I know that when I studied the reasons and even arguments for believing in this Life I have been convinced of its existence.  When, in my feeble efforts, I have lived based on this Life, I have experienced abundant life in this dimension.  I will proceed to follow after this Life and am willing, I think to die trying to live in it.  Without this hope I don’t see how I can be any sort of fun at all, especially after waking up from a Sunday afternoon nap.

Saint John 17:3 “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”

It was a mild September Sunday. I was languidly perusing the pages of a book when I was startled by a cry from my wife on the opposite end of the house. As I hurried to the location of the sound, she met me in the kitchen waving a small, plastic wand. “It’s positive!” she declared as she danced about the dining table. I stood there blinking as my world rolled off of its axis. There are some things for which we can never prepare ourselves; the announcement of a child is one of them.

The arrival of a pregnancy to hopeful parents brings with it a kaleidoscope of feelings. Emotion washes over you as intense and irresistible as a tidal wave.  Surges of joy and trepidation accompany moments of pride and apprehension as you begin to grapple with a new identity. Parenthood looms over you – promising, threatening, and wonderful.
As time passed I watched my wife transform into a swollen version of that person who danced around me in the kitchen (the dancing had stopped by the fifth month). Morning sickness and mood swings dominated our household as the tiny life within her asserted his presence. Books and videos on parenthood became our primary source of information and many hours were spent in breathless silence as we awaited another kick.

Six months into the pregnancy, a routine doctor’s appointment revealed that Stephanie had developed preeclampsia. This meant critically high blood pressure that was a serious danger to both Stephanie and the baby. She was placed on strict bed rest until delivery, and we were warned that the baby would probably be coming earlier than either of us expected.

And that is precisely what happened. On April 21, 2003 (just six weeks later) Stephanie was admitted into the hospital for an induced labor delivery. That night the doctor informed us that he had scheduled the delivery for the next morning and that we should try to get some sleep. My wife followed his orders; I did not.

I became intimately familiar with the ceiling of my wife’s hospital room that night as I gazed up at it, listening to the seconds tick by on my wristwatch. I was overwhelmed with a feeling strangely akin to the Christmas Eve’s of my childhood. In a matter of hours I would be a father. The thought exhilarated me and terrified me at the same time.
Sunrise came and flooded the room with light. April 22 had arrived and so had the nurses to escort my wife to the delivery room. Pain, fear, and wonder ensued and at 10:00 that morning I was handed a bundle of blankets that had a tiny face inside staring up at me. And this is the point in this narrative when words can no longer fulfill their function in conveying true meaning. At that moment I experienced such emotion that to try to describe it would only risk sentimentality.

Perhaps the only way to explain it is to say that at that moment I felt as though I were holding an extension of myself transformed into a new person.  A life that was indivisibly linked to me in its origin, yet completely individual in its actuality and potential. I was astonished by how fiercely I could love a face that I had only seen for a few moments. I wanted to tell him all of this. I wanted him to let him know how incredibly special he was; how much he had changed me. But I could not find the words and he would not have understood if I had.