Wednesday, March 30, 2011

signing off

This week's World Vision devotion focuses on carelessness. No, not carelessness as in, "My husband dropped our middle child on her head when she was three days old." Although he did, which could explain some things. This is carelessness with another definition, as in "having no one to care for you. Being set aside or ostracized." You can read the story referenced for the week at:

But the practices they wanted me to try out for the week in order to feel more uncared for presented a bit of a problem.

First option: "Wear a piece of clothing every day that will make you stand out in a crowd - something unflattering that will definitely make people take notice." I figured anyone who knew me well enough would not notice at all. They'd just think I was being normally abnormal. And anyone who doesn't? Well, who really cared?

Second option: "Go without any contact/communication with your closest loved one." I offered this option to my husband. He was not thrilled with the idea. Although my kids offered not to have to hear me talking at them for a full week, he was not happy at the thought. And since it's only supposed to be one closest loved one, I didn't figure I should choose a child and say, "Yep--you're the closest one."

Third option:" Go without any contact/communication with your typical group of friends." Potentially feasible. Even if my children replied that I do not have a typical group of friends. I'm not sure if they were saying I have no friends or just that they are not normal. Since my daughter is fasting form Facebook for Lent, I thought, I could do that for a week. That's cutting contact off pretty well.

I am not one of those people who thinks that Facebook is spelling the doom of social life as we know it. I do not believe it keeps people from face to face conversation, though it can. I have found it a great tool for keeping up with people I would otherwise not hear from on a regular basis. If not for Facebook, I would never have reconnected with high school friends and had a wonderful time at the theater and a hysterical time at dinner in February (you know who you are). I would not see pictures of great nephews who are totally adorable.

But for this week, I haven't and won't see any of those things. In fact, child #3 is going to post this link for me so I am not tempted. It's already hard. I miss you! So I cannot imagine the pain of a little girl who goes through life with no one to connect with her in a meaningful way. Read the story. Then bless God that you cannot relate. And look around you for someone who can.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

no ordinary people

The challenge for last weekend in the Lenten series I'm looking at was to define the word "worth." Don't cheat. Don't use Webster's or Google. What does it mean, in essence? And the answer I came up with? Something of worth has a reason for its existence. The world would be poorer without it. If a person, place, or thing is of worth, that means that everything it touches would lose something if it did not exist.

Which caused me to think--what would it look like if we went around treating every human being we come in contact with like he or she is of worth? What if we really believed it? What if we believed it about ourselves? Do you act like the checker you meet at the grocery store, the cop who just pulled you over, or the family member who just irritated you for the fifth time today is someone that the world needs in order to be richer? Because she or he is.

One of my favorite essays by C.S. Lewis puts it this way:

"There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations--these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry , snub, and exploit--immortal horrors or everlasting splendours." (C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory)

I think it is not at all coincidental that, the day after this definition was in my devotional plan, I heard a fantastic message about this very topic. I pass it on to you with recommendation.(It's #1 on the list.)

Whom do you need to see as an immortal today? A family member? A coworker? Yourself?

Friday, March 11, 2011

thank you, baby bio

At the suggestion of a wise friend, I have tuned into the World Vision Lenten devotional program.

The things I put down on paper yesterday seemed too good not to share.

Participants were asked to write down 30-40 things they are grateful for under one of the following categories: money, health, disease, faith, freedom, or education. Tough choice. We are all so blessed in so many of these areas. But I chose education, since I am fortunate enough to have 8 years of post grad papers and bills behind me. Plus, having been a teacher, it's kind of part of my reason for existence. And it really was not difficult to think of forty things. That says a lot right there. It is truly amazing to really sit down and think about what we have that we might not if we had never been granted the chance to go to those schoolhouses kids complain about so often.

I'm not saying people without education cannot attain these things. Some have them in abundance. But I am saying that for me, and statistically in general, education creates or greatly enhances these abilities or opportunities. And I'm not saying, look at me and all these great accomplishments. Please. That's why they're blessings--we don't earn them. So, here's what I came up with.

  • A career I love. Too few can say that.

  • I know how to research whatever I want to know. Within reason, I suppose. I probably don't know how to find out the temperature at the core of Pluto. But I don't really want to know, do I?I know how to adapt to life's curves. This comes from learning how to think through alternative solutions.

  • I have a fairly good understanding of my gifts and abilities. And not-abilities. Good to know as well.

  • I can read.

  • I can write my name. And other stuff.

  • I can learn from history's mistakes, having sat through classes in, yes, even The History of Nuclear Power.

  • I can better understand others' point of view.

  • I know basic math and cannot be cheated by people. Except maybe vacuum cleaner salesmen. No, I'm just too ornery to be cheated by them.

  • I do not have to use a calculator for math, which is better than can be said for, say, my children, who are also supposedly educated.

  • I can help my kids with homework.

  • I can be an example to my kids for learning.

  • I am more fortunate than 95 percent of the women in the world, as a guesstimate.

  • I can encourage others through my writing.

  • I have been given the courage to speak; thank you high school debate coach.

  • I have the ability to think quickly; see above debate coach.

  • I have the ability to reason through puzzles and complex ideas.

  • I can make a living for myself. If I really have to.

  • I can understand other languages. Sort of. Enough to have actual French and Spanish people smile benevolently at me and think, "Cute American. At least she's trying."

  • I can understand other cultures.

  • I have had the good fortune to travel.

  • I can read my Bible. Which opens up so many more blessings I cannot being to list them here.

  • I have a comfortable home and lots of things I want.

  • I know how to drive safely, thanks to driver's ed. Theoretically, at least.

  • I have a greater appreciation for what goes into creating things, whether it be material things or ideas.

  • I have a greater appreciation for the intricacy of creation. Thank you, baby bio, botany, and geology in college. And FYI, Baby Bio was the term for those of us who were decidedly not on the pre med track. It had nothing to do with infants.

  • I have a better understanding of other people's character through literature and history.

  • I can not just read a book but enjoy one that I want to read.

  • I am in touch with the great thinkers of the past. No, not in some weird, channeling sort of way.

  • I have tools to reframe the future for myself, as it changes so quickly.

  • I have the abilities and hope needed to carry out that reframing.

  • I have an intellectual faith in my own belief system.

  • I have connections with people from all over the world thanks to college and seminary friends.

  • I have my spouse. Met in college. Perhaps he should have come farther up the list than #34.

  • The ability to pay those school loans. Yes, it is a blessing to be able to write the check.

  • The ability to critically analyze what the media feeds me so I'm not a blind follower

  • The resources to help others

  • I can give my girls the education they will need.

  • I get to help kids on the Battle of the Books team, a great blessing I could not be part of if I could not read, right?

  • I have clean water, food, shelter, and hope. And that right there should be enough. It's more than most.

OK, go. What's your list? Pick one of those topics today and think about it. I guarantee, you'll be surprised to discover forty things aren't so hard to come up with. Which only tells us how lucky we are.