On May 23, 2014, Elliot Rodger killed his two housemates and a friend—then went on a shooting spree near the UC Santa Barbara campus. At the end of the day, he had wounded 14 and killed six–then himself.

In a Youtube video he recorded between killings, he said, “You denied me a happy life. And in return, I will deny all of you life. It’s only fair.”

Elliot’s complaint? He was a 22-year-old virgin. He had suffered the injustice of not being chosen.

Last month—on Valentines’ Day—Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School in Parkland, Florida.

According to Amia Srinivasan, Cruz had commented on another Youtube video that “Elliot Rodger will not be forgotten.” Continue Reading…

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“I remember too how spring came, just when I thought it might stay winter forever, at first in little touches and strokes of green lighting up the bare mud like candle flames, and then it covered the whole place with a pelt of shadowing green blades and leaves. And I remember how, as the days and the winds passed over, the foliage shifted and sang.” (Wendell Berry)

The last part of winter brings Lent, which can be a harsh season–even if you don’t choose to sacrifice something. This March brought us especially cold winds–the kind requiring full winter gear just to walk the dog.

The chill seems even worse since warm temperatures in February fooled us into thinking spring was already here. Winter lingers. It seems entrenched. We continue to feed the woodstove and pile blankets on at night. The hillsides wake up white some mornings.

Yesterday, our world was a never settling snow globe. Continue Reading…

Imagine a boy with gifts and dreams.

His father had once been a boy with gifts and dreams. But his gifts left him and his dreams didn’t happen. He did all he could to tell the boy not to dream.

But the boy dreamed anyway.

The boy wanted to please the man. But the gift the father had passed down also left the boy. What remained for the boy were only the gifts connected to his own dreams.

The father did not respect those dreams. He did not respect the boy. He was mean. He was abusive. Continue Reading…

Nancy E. Head

I’ll be wearin’ the green today! My maiden name is Bulger–doesn’t get more Irish than that!

But today honors a saint. A man who planted the Gospel–planted churches–throughout Ireland.

Thomas Cahill calls him the first missionary.

If you’re wearin’ green today or not, enjoy the shamrocks. Patrick used them to explain the Trinity.

He spread the light of the Gospel.

Be the light.

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Between Two Ways

March 15, 2018 — 14 Comments

“We can simplify our society–that is, make ourselves free–only by undertaking tasks of great mental and cultural complexity.” (Wendell Berry 49)

It’s a paradox, of course–a truth that seems counter-intuitive, even contradictory. But it’s neither. It’s just true. We are free when our lives are complex. And when we live lives of complexity, we obtain simple freedom.

Berry points out that, during simpler times (when most of us inhabited rural communities), our work was complex. We built our own houses, grew our own food, and made our own clothes. We navigated the world using a variety of skills.

A farmer–if you’ll forgive the cliche–seldom put his eggs in one basket. He had chickens for eggs and meat, cows for milk, and pigs for meat. He grew corn to feed the animals and himself. But he also grew alfalfa and cotton and wheat. He had a series of enterprises requiring various ways of working. He was not a specialist. Continue Reading…

“If man had his way, the plan of redemption would be an endless and bloody conflict. In reality, salvation was bought not by Jesus’ fist, but by His nail-pierced hands; not by muscle but by love; not by vengeance but by forgiveness; not by force but by sacrifice. Jesus Christ our Lord surrendered in order that He might win; He destroyed His enemies by dying for them and conquered death by allowing death to conquer Him.” A.W. Tozer

We are the people of paradox–the apparent contradiction that is not a contradiction at all because it’s truth.

We live by dying to self. His strength shows in our weakness. We are supposed to love our enemies, turn the other cheek, and rejoice when life has us down. We are supposed to live without fear, to live with peace in our hearts. Continue Reading…

A New Mercy of Snow

March 8, 2018 — 5 Comments

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. ~Isaiah 1: 18~

We saw two seasons yesterday. Snow blanketed the landscape clinging to each tree branch. In the afternoon, it all melted under the sun.

A late winter blast followed by a tempering wind and a sense of warmth doing battle with icy winds. Eventually, warmth will prevail.

I savored the beauty of pure white snow. Melting so quickly saved it from piling up with sooty edges reaching up the sides of blackening banks. Continue Reading…

The woman stood in front of the church to tell her story. She had never spoken to such a large group before. I was in the auditorium “by chance” that day. I had come to hear my grandchildren sing. But an extended conversation in the hallway meant I missed my intended purpose that day.

An hour later, I was on my way home knowing I had been there for a reason very different from the one I had planned.

Her story drew me in. She had been pregnant for the second time. She spent weeks in bed nurturing a baby her doctors told her would never survive. And even if the child did survive, it would never walk, never be normal.

(“It”? Such an awful word when referring to a human being.)

She should have an abortion now, they said. She fought the doctors. She finally found one who wanted to help her–to help her baby survive. Continue Reading…

Pushing Send

March 1, 2018 — 3 Comments

Restoring the Shattered has gone to its editor. I’ll update in about a week about when we can expect publication.

At this moment, I’m exhausted and exhilarated. It’s been a long journey from the first page until today.

The journey toward publication continues, largely due to my encouragers. The Altoona Writers’ Guild and the Christian Writers’ Roundtable are communities of people who push each other forward. I am blessed to be part of both groups.

Robert P. Broadwater is on my mind as I write. He was the heart of our Altoona group. I wish he had lived to see this moment. He was a supreme encourager.

My husband Paul Head also pushed me forward as he read version after version to help me to this point.

Good friends told me to keep writing, encouraged me in the craft, showed confidence in a gift I didn’t always see on my own.

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main,” wrote British poet John Donne.

I’m so thankful for the grounded people around me urging me on.

I’m so thankful to God for the gifts of you.


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The Problem with Boys

February 27, 2018 — Leave a comment

The gun discussion will go on. Now, it’s time to seriously discuss boys. They are the real issue.

Mitch Teemley

I don’t believe there’s a single fix-all solutionto America’s “gun problem.” I do believe gun sales need to be better monitored; that semi-automatic rifles should require even more tightly-controlled licensing (perhaps the NRA can help with this process, rather than fight it); that an early-warning system needs to be instituted among psychiatrists and psychologists (including school counselors), requiring additional counselling and clearance before flagged persons can purchase guns; and that much harder long-term sociological steps need to be taken.

But another crisis has emerged: The Problem with Boys. Last month, a high-schooler less than an hour from where I live shot eighteen people. The incident got limited national attention because “only” two kids died, a number that’s no longer front page worthy.

The 15 year old shooter’s answers to police questions were startling. He is not obviously “mentally disturbed.” What he is is deeply alienated: from his family…

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