Tilling Good Ground

As a college junior, she was a latecomer to my freshman English class. The subject of our discussion was the 2001 book Peace like a River by Leif Enger. Filled with allusions to the Bible, historic events, and Zane Grey westerns, the book has plenty of fodder for discussion in a college-level class.

What caught this particular student’s eye was a line that repeats throughout the text as the narrator/main character, an 11 year old boy, advises the reader to “make of it what you will.” The it he refers to is Christian faith, faith in the miraculous works that come only from God. The narrator isn’t pushy about faith. He simply unfolds the miracles and invites the reader to draw his own conclusions.

My student found that very appealing. She explained that she had rejected faith because it had always been a source of contention in her home. Her father had come from one denomination, her mother from another. They had never been able to find the peace that Christ offers and Enger depicts.

My experience growing up as the product of a ‘mixed marriage’ was quite different. Continue reading “Tilling Good Ground”

Of Mice and Men and Unborn Children

The US government is using tax dollars to purchase the remains of unborn children for experiments also involving mice according to Terence P. Jeffrey.

The body parts must be “fresh” so FDA experimenters can inject the parts into mice to give the rodents a human immune system.

The $15,900 contract runs until nearly the end of July 2019.

Jeffrey writes:

“Because it would not be able to create its ‘humanized mice’ without fresh tissue taken from aborted babies, the FDA also has an interest in the continuation of legalized abortions at a stage in fetal development when the tissue needed to create these mice can be retrieved from the aborted baby.”

It’s hard not to be cynical here. Continue reading “Of Mice and Men and Unborn Children”

The Lost Art of Craft

“We’re increasingly constrained by computers and a pixelated abridgement of reality that serves only to make us blind to the truly infinite complexity of the nature world. Most critically, our physical movements have been almost entirely removed as a factor in our own existence. Now all we seem to do is press buttons.” Alexander Langlands (review by Gracy Olmstead)

My friend and I were at the fabric store–a place we haunt when we don’t go to a coffee house for tea. Our meeting places most often involve tea and/or fabric and sometimes food, over which we discuss our lives–husbands, kids, grandkids, other friends (in a non-gossipy way), current events–and our perceptions of the workings of God in our circumference.

Sometimes we even discuss our crafting–and what it means to us.

Pieces of us stitched together to pass along to others or enjoy ourselves.

Crafting takes time. Investing time in a project teaches us diligence and patience. There is no such thing as instant gratification when you are handcrafting something.

Time and craft add meaning to the final products.

And time, craft, and meaning add value–to a point of pricelessness–for something handcrafted matches nothing else. It is unique, the only one of its kind.

In his book, Langlands quotes a definition of craft (from the ancient term craeft)–“the organizing principle of the individual’s capacity to follow a moral and mental life.”

To craft is to contemplate–to plan and work the plan. And the contemplative life, Aristotle said, is the only kind of life that can be happy.

As Olmstead asserts in her review of Langlands’ book Craeft: An Inquiry into the Origins and True Meaning of Traditional Crafts (now on my Goodreads’ “to read” list) balance is the key today. It’s what Aristotle called the Golden Mean–the balance of a virtue between its excess and its deficiency.

From Olmstead’s review: “Langlands argues for a revival of cræft throughout this book, as a response to the toll that industrialization and consumptive living has taken on our world. Who knows whether slower, more laborious rituals will become a godsend to our broken world in future years?”

Who knows? One does. And godsend? Indeed.

The ultimate Crafter/Creator who gave us time, thought, and art.

Slow, laborious work can be a rite of contemplation as we ponder him and his power to make beauty through work. As we see our work become beautiful over time. As we see ourselves as his image–imago Dei. And as we find ourselves anew by emulating his creative ways.

Here’s to time spent happily crafting.

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Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Night and Day

“Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.  God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.  God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.” Genesis 1: 3b-5~

Evening and morning–the first day. That was how God measured days. We flip it around. In our minds, our days begin with dawn and end with sunset.

In that change, we show our preference for daylight. And we show it in other ways as well. Our brightly lit streets are illuminated to a degree far beyond our need to have a well-lit pathway. Our cities glow and flicker as business interests compete for our attention. We are like moths, and like moths, we find artificial light more attractive than natural light. And the more light we have the more we want–as in addiction.

In The End of Night, Paul Bogard takes a secular look at our desire for more and brighter light.

“As our surroundings grow brighter, we grow used to that level of brightness, and so anything dimmer seems extraordinarily dim, even dark. This is exactly what happened as artificial lighting developed through the ages. The once glorious oil lamps became dim and disgusting with the advent of wonderful gas lighting, which then became smelly and awful and unbearably dim the moment we saw electric light. . . . [O]nce our eyes get used to seeing brighter lights, we must have brighter lights.” Continue reading “Night and Day”

Silent No More–Healing after Abortion

It’s not the unforgivable sin. And there is healing of spirit and soul.

That’s the message of Silent No More–a global ministry of women and men–parents and extended family–speaking up about the experience of having aborted their children–in order to discourage others from taking the same path.

Today, there is early chemical abortion (which can be reversed mid-process), surgical dismemberment of the unborn, late-term abortion, the euphemistic “reduction”–which is the selective killing of a twin, triplet, etc.

The reasons are plentiful ranging from inconvenience to financial distress to rape to fetal abnormality.

The regrets, however, are the same: I’m sorry I killed my child.

Healing comes, as it does with any sin or source of shame, with speaking up. Saying it out loud as one mother notes: Continue reading “Silent No More–Healing after Abortion”

AIDS: A Modern Plague on Youth

Every three minutes, a teenage girl acquires AIDS.

That’s 20 every hour, 480 every day, 14,400 every month, and 172,800 every year.

That’s a great deal of innocence lost.

A United Nations (UN) representative calls it a “crisis of health.” It’s that and so much more.

“In most countries, women and girls lack access to information, to services, or even just the power to say no to unsafe sex,” according to the UN spokesperson.

Young women, ages 15 to 19, acquire AIDS at twice the rate male teens do. But acquiring AIDS is no less tragic for young men. They may also lack the power to say no.

The distribution of condoms reduces the rate of AIDS, however, only “under the right conditions.” And those conditions would include not only education but also enough regard for a sex partner to take the step of protection. Still, a condom is never a guarantee.

“Safe sex” is a misnomer. There is no safe sex outside of lifelong monogamy. The price these young people pay? They pay with their lives–for someone else’s moment of pleasure.

Last year, 130,000 youngsters aged 19 and under died from AIDS, while 430,000 — almost 50 every hour — were newly infected, the [UN] agency said.”

The UN proposes to “reach young people and curb the epidemic among them.” But how is that possible when they lack the power to say no?

The solution is not in distributing more condoms and convincing people to use them. It’s in convincing people not to use other people.

And the source of that understanding comes only from the Gospel.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Life Quilt: A Voice for the Future

One generation praises your deeds to the next and proclaims your mighty works. Psalm 145:4. 

They were projects that took me years to complete. And in the end, I wasn’t even the one who completed them. In fact, I wasn’t even the one who started them.

Two old quilts. The first one came from my son-in-law’s grandmother. My daughter wanted her little girl to have a quilt her great-grandmother made and her grandmother (me) restored. I picked another one up in an antique store. Its crafter remains unknown.

So there was one quilt for each granddaughter.

Restoration was my task. To take two old things–no longer pretty–and only one with family significance–and infuse them with beauty, function, and meaning. I began to gather scraps for the girls to carry through their lives and pass along later. Continue reading “Life Quilt: A Voice for the Future”

Real Help for Addicted Vets

Imagine an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. People sit in a group. My name is _________. I’ve been sober for three years. . . . I’ve been sober for six months. . . . I’ve been sober for ten years.

Then one stands and says, “I’ve been coming to these meetings and I’d been sober for two years, but this week I fell. I got drunk two days ago.”

Further, imagine that the other members tell this person he has to leave. He can no longer receive the help and encouragement of the group because he failed–once.

And because of this failure, he becomes homeless. Continue reading “Real Help for Addicted Vets”

Transfiguring Grace

Paradox:

To see my own sin—my own failings and imperfections—

To overlook yours.

Joy:

To have His grace wash over me and splash onto you,

To have His grace soak us both through,

And stain us forever with His love.

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Excerpted from Restoring the Shattered, Coming to Amazon in October

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”