"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Paul to the persecuted at Philippi (2:5-11)

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Its been a long time since we've had a sijo.

Nothing more beautiful in the morning than a curling,
Rolling, rising, mist, fogging my glasses and warming senses,
Rising like prayers of dark, scented incense-- a cup of coffee.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Sunday Unplugged... and somewhat silent.

Okay, so I have laryngitis.  Delightful.
Saturday was a joyful, incredible day, with an ordination in the morning and a Happening (teen ministry) event lasting late into the evening.  I left home early Saturday morning and arrived home in the wee hours of Sunday.   Thankfully I can generally get by on little sleep.

On the ride home from Happening, I began to lose my voice.  Not a common thing for me.  Not amusing.  So much for reading the Gospel or much of anything else useful in church the next day. I woke up Sunday morning with nothing more than a whisper.

To make matters more fun, we had planned to spend the entire day with the kids unplugged, no internet, no cell phones, nothing.  We had planned to go get a Christmas tree, decorate it, play games, make hot chocolate.

Cough, cough,  whisper, whisper.  Yeah, I'm kind of useless.

But in the end it was a blessing. My middle child offered to be my voice so I could join in the goofy games.  My own enforced quiet caused the world to seem quieter by evening.  And my compete inability to be useful in church is a reminder that we aren't loved by God for our usefulness, but because we just are. 

Yes, I was going a little stir crazy (still am) from the lack of both vocal and typewritten communications.  But I was reminded that there wasn't anything that couldn't wait until the working week.  Enforced priorities are not always a bad thing.

So today I'm much improved.  I can squeak and sound like a teenaged boy.   This is not amusing.  But I should be back in the rat race by tomorrow.

I'm not sure that's a good thing.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Taking College for a Test Drive and Drunken Anglican Chameleons

Sometimes parenting is like being initiated into the mysteries of the universe.  Not just birthing babies and late night feedings and the still that happens for the ten minutes a day that the little stinkers are asleep and you're awake.  Life's mysteries are more ongoing than babies. 

My eldest has been accepted into two colleges, one very Reformed Protestant and one very Roman Catholic.  Okay, that's only funny if you're an Anglican.  I know.  For the rest of the Christian world, its just weird.

We talked this morning about how Reformed Protestant College (henceforth referred to as RPC) has mandatory chapel.  I have mixed feelings about mandatory chapel and I wondered if he did, too.  On the one hand, chapel is good!  On the other hand, nobody should be required to worship, it should be a freewill offering.  And making chapel mandatory means that the college tends not to be very diverse, not outside your particular brand of Christianity.

As I said this, my teen replied, "but we're Anglicans, we blend in." 

I answered, "We blend in like a drunk chameleon shouting "you don't see me! you don't see me! Oh wait, you hear me... um, hi!"  We blend in so that we're almost unnoticeable in a Catholic setting, until we start knocking over the furniture.  And the Protestants will happily have us over for social outings, until we put on our liturgical lampshades and become a little unruly.

Needless to say, my teen thought that was hysterical.  Because I am seriously funny.  Or because it was very very inhumanely early in the morning and we were both a little loopy. 

Anyway, he's off today and tonight at RPC taking it for a test drive.  He texted that he's having fun (yay).  He'll be doing the same at the Roman Catholic College (RCC, of course) later this month.  He has to decide on which side of the fence his undergraduate education will fall, no doubt based on such teen priority as where are the people friendliest, the proximity of tasty food (RPC has the ticket there), and what the classes are like (at least the math classes, he cares nothing about the rest of his education, best I can tell.) 

But here's the mystery I've discovered.  College test drives are not just for the kids to see what the next four years could be like (if you choose door number one....).  They are also for the parents to remind ourselves, at this tender point in our development, our parental growing up, that they can survive on their own.  College test drives give us the chance to test drive what it is like to have a kid somewhat out on his own.  While they test drive adulthood, we test drive, well old-adulthood. 

And he's having fun.  Cool.  Maybe this mom can grow up. 
Or at least let him grow up.... maybe.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Homeschooling....

Homeschooling is dreadfully inefficient.

I stumbled across a photograph today which was supposed to represent homeschooling.  A mother was drawing a clock on a chalkboard and in the foreground we see the backs of three little attentive blonde heads of varying ages, no doubt in rapt wonder over the miracle that is time. 

And I thought to myself, homeschooling is dreadfully inefficient. 

If you want efficiency there is nothing like a school building.  All the little students (future products) are grouped together by need (academic or otherwise) in order that one teacher might impart information into several minds at once.

More efficient, were it equally optimized, would be the internet, where there would be no limit to receiving minds.  Like a line of cars at the gas station students could arrive en masse and teachers could just fill 'em up.

Homeschooling is dreadfully inefficient.  I should be teaching my production line what I know best, and line my own up with all the other little products in the great educational marketplace.

But it is internet education, which is the classroom efficiency blown out of scale, that shows exactly the flaw in the argument.  You see, I teach motivated students online.  They're adults, and they're engaged.  And they learn. 

Still, I don't feel they learn as well as they'd learn in a classroom.  They cannot see what I demonstrate.  Asking a simple question in a lecture is a production.  They cannot find study partners in their classes or sense that I am genuine when I tell them they are doing well.  They don't have a foundation for staying at the table when they struggle.  In short, they don't have a relationship with their instructor or their classmates, and in doing so they lose an aspect of their relationship with the material.

Learning happens best in community, in relationship.  Every single anti-homeschooling zealot on the planet will agree to that. 

But the internet classroom demonstrates where the relationship flaw lies.   Efficiency is the opposite of relationship.  Efficiency is quick and task oriented.  Relationship is a slow plodding stream of contact hours, conversations and even at times conflict.  Relationship is people oriented.

The flaw in the efficiency argument is that homeschooling is the ultimate in relational education.  The teacher is trusted and known, the learning and wonder are mutual and shared.  Correction and struggle are accomplished in direct relationship.  It is slow, plodding education.

Make no mistake, the inefficiency of schooling is at times necessary, at times even preferred.  But even then, the element of trust and relationship makes the excellent schools look dreadfully inefficient.  We all want schools where we're more than a number, but those schools make demands on our lives that many do not want.  Community and relationship are built on the athletic field as much as in the classroom. 

By the end of next May I will have dedicated about 2340 days of my life to the formal education of my eldest son.  2340 days, one largely indistinguishable from the one before it, but somehow we plodded along from counting buttons to calculus, from phonics to Plato, one day at a time.

That's no more days than a public school would require, no fewer.  But in slow plodding relationship, somehow, a small child became a man.  And he doesn't see life very efficiently at all, but he has become a man along the way.  And I look forward to the next phase of our relationship.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Just do it....

Hello dear readers. 
I want to apologize for my absence.
And especially for not blogging about the genocide of Christians in Iraq, because it needs to be blogged.  I know a lot of you are aware anyway, because you're that kind of readers.
And you probably want to know how you can help, because you're also that kind of readers.

So now,  without further ado:

How you can help Iraqi Christians through the Anglican Relief and Development Fund.   For those of you who aren't Anglican, that's okay... I know these folks.  I trust them.  They are making use of a global Anglican fellowship to get aid to those who need it!  Nothing less that awesome.  

http://anglicanaid.net/can-help-iraqi-christians/

Sunday, July 6, 2014

A few worthy quotes....

 "For the people on the other side of that issue, for me I feel we need to honor them and respect them and treat them royally."  Archbishop Foley Beach (on the ordination of women to the priesthood)

"Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." St. Paul to the Philippians (2:3-4)

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”  John 13:34-35


Treat them royally...
Love one another...
Count others more significant...

Maybe this Anglican experiment might work.
Maybe we can stitch back the fabric of the last thousand years.

Maybe.

Or put otherwise, "we cannot claim that our division is anything less than a scandal and an obstacle to our proclaiming the Gospel of salvation to the world."  Pope Francis to Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby




Sunday, June 22, 2014

A New Archbishop

So today the Church elected a new Archbishop for the Anglican Church in North America, Archbishop-elect Foley Beach. 

And I'm encouraged.

And most of what encourages me has to do with the currently difficult topic of women's ordination.   Archbishop-elect Beach does not ordain women to the priesthood.   But that's neither here nor there.  What encourages me is this:
  • The folks who felt marginalized by Archbishop Duncan's pro-ordination-of-women stance and practice will feel a sense of returned balance.
  • The folks who were uneasy enough to consider walking away from the table will no longer have this as a motivation to destabilize the ACNA.

Those things are good and helpful, but even more importantly, I have already seen and heard encouraging signs:
  • Everywhere I looked at today's reception I found bishops who don't ordain women greeting women clergy as friends and respected co-laborers in God's vineyard.  Do not tell me these guys are misogynist jerks; these are men who love all people but have discerned through prayer and study that they should not be ordaining women.  I may not agree with them, but I sure do respect them.
  • And then I turned to Facebook and heard from the other side of the equation, as women priests, who I also love and respect, who have long been conditioned to fear an archbishop who might not support them, poured out their support and kind words for Archbishop-elect Beach.  This election was not about their rights to an ordination (no one has a right to be ordained) but about the good of the church and goodwill among Christians and even respect for godly authority.

And so today, both sides are showing their best sides.  And I'm encouraged.  Maybe we can keep it up all week, by God's grace, and enjoy the upcoming Assembly on a high note.  Oh there will always be internet trolls, no doubt, but if we don't feed them, they will have to be quieter.

And after all, now we can say:
"Life's a Beach... and so's the Archbishop."

Congratulations, Archbishop-Elect Foley Beach.  Here's to the next five years!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Transgender priest to preach at National Cathedral

An openly transgender Episcopal priest is set to preach at Washington National Cathedral.
The Rev. Dr. Cameron Partridge, the Episcopal chaplain at Boston University, will be a guest preacher on Sunday. He'll be the first openly transgender priest to preach from Canterbury Pulpit at the cathedral.
The Right Rev. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop, will preside at the service. It's part of the cathedral's celebration of LGBT pride month.
The service will also include readings and prayers from members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
The Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of the cathedral, says he hopes Partridge's appearance "will send a symbolic message in support of greater equality for the transgender community."

(borrowed from Foxnews.com)
______________________________________________

You know, just when I think enough has been said, the world has moved on, and what's done is done... something like this happens to remind me that liberals are throwing the rest of the church under the bus day by day. 

None of these names are new to me.  Cameron Partridge is surely setting him/herself up to be the first gender confused bishop of TEC.  That's neither secret nor surprise.  The Attention-Deficit church of what seems like a good idea at the moment is looking for its next starlet. 

Pride itself being one of the seven deadly sins, 'goeth before a fall' and most clearly cometh along right after a fall also, has no place in a "national" cathedral.  Sexual sin has no place flaunted about in a church. 

Anyway, I guess I should leave the commentary to the pundits.  I put this here for your information, nothing more.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Last day of school....

We survived our first year of Catholic School with only the following casualties...

*The math teacher, who was a brand new teacher this year, has decided to quit and become a nun. (Not kidding!)
*The boy conned the History teacher out of a broken down electric water cooler on the last day of school. You should have seen him dragging it across the parking lot in the rain shouting "Hey, mom, look what Mr. ***** gave me!!!"
*The religion teacher, whose exams were always cheerfully entitled "Nice Little Quiz" doesn't teach 7th grade, so we'll miss him next year.
*The Latin teacher does teach 7th grade, so he's probably spending the summer taking up drinking. He also has a new baby in his house, so perhaps he should make it a double.
*The building is still standing. Though the construction on the new place is not done, at least the boy's damage impact has been minimal.
*He has stained a total of four dress code shirts, lost one gym shirt, and outgrown every single pair of pants (including gym pants) and shoes that he started the year with. I won't count the notebooks destroyed, plus a couple of backpacks (thankfully none of those started the year new... I know this kid) and two pairs of glasses (the first under warranty, thankfully, and the second was about the right time to just get a new prescription... whew). Sixth grade boys grow like that plant in Little Shop of Horrors... I remembered that from my first kid.

So on towards 7th grade. Look out world.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Cooking oil spray....

A conversation with my eight year old...

revealing the importance of being shaped by the insanity of our forebears....

M: I need to spray oil on this. I'll use this cocoanut oil. Can you open it for me? Which side does it spray out?

Me: The side with the hole in it.

M: You mean with the red dot?

Me: Yes, there's a red dot there to make it more obvious so you don't miss it and spray oil all over yourself... like your great-grandy did, only paint. She accidentally painted herself.

And so I ended up telling my youngest about how his great-grandmother somehow missed all the cues on the spray paint can and instead of spray painting the furniture she was aiming for, painted her face and hands in one fell swoop. And then, in perfect Grandy fashion, she couldn't get the door open (paint on her hands) and so ran screaming toward the kitchen window to alert (read: Frighten the heck out of) my mother so she would let her in to wash up.

My parents told me family stories growing up because they were 1. utterly hysterical and 2. often a fabulous example of what not to do. My dad talked about "teaching a dog to drive" and taking apart his gym teacher's car to reassemble it on the school balcony. Yup. My mom told about the goofy things her mother did and how dad's teaching a dog to drive was more successful than anyone attempting to teach Grandy to drive.

And except for my mom, all the main characters in those stories are gone now. And my kids don't know these people who, for better or worse, still impact their lives.

And so I'm glad my parents told me stories.

I try to remember to tell my kids.

And I put this here as a reminder to you to do the same.

And be careful which way the spray can points. You just never know....

Sunday, May 4, 2014

More random thoughts on race....

When I was a kid, one of my mom's "embarrassing" stories was when my brother, then four years old, saw his first black person. He pointed (because, hey, he was four) and he said loudly, "Mommy, look! That boy is made of chocolate!"

Why should that story be embarrassing for my mother? Kids do this all the time. It shouldn't be embarrassing for the other kid or his mother either... we all know chocolate is beautiful.

Really beautiful.

But the story *is* because it *was* embarrassing, even if it shouldn't feel that way. Even if it was just a four year old kid asking a question and admiring someone beautiful.

The other side of that is one of my favorite stories from Korea. Really, I love this. It is effectively the same story, only it is coated in a liberal dose of innocence, outside the American system of expectations.

It was when we were in Ganghwa Korea. And not a lot of westerners go to Ganghwa. One of our local hosts even asked "Ganghwa? Why do you want to go there?" No worries, most Americans don't realize there is a Korea outside of Seoul and maybe that other city, Busan, which most people would likely translate as "Not-Seoul City." Ganghwa doesn't even have guide books in English. We were the only white people we saw there, and we only met one proficient English speaker. Quite a contrast to English-ready Seoul.

Along the way we met a little (and I do mean little, she couldn't have passed five feet if she were standing on a box) old (old enough to tell us she'd lost all of her children due to the Korean war) grandmother (which is what you call old ladies in Korea... and she was cute and grandmotherly). She spoke no English and we may have been the only non-military white people she'd ever seen. She certainly acted that way. She wanted to tell us everything about Ganghwa, but in Korean, which we didn't understand. "Follow me" I knew that Korean hand gesture. And she took my arm and was literally petting it. And thankfully at that moment the only proficient English speaker we met on the island appeared. I asked him what she was saying. He told me "she says your skin is really really white and she thinks its pretty."

She was telling me how white I am.

Thanks, I noticed.

But that's the thing. She didn't make me feel "different." A quick look around would make me know I was different. She acknowledged my "different" and said it was beautiful, and showed me that it was a curiosity to her, and that she liked me. She acknowledged my difference and made me feel welcome. Different is not the opposite of beautiful and it is not the opposite of welcome.

We just think it is in America, where we're all so decidedly different from our neighbors and yet yearn so much to balance it with "sameness" that we fail to appreciate difference.

Asian friends in America would be rightly annoyed if all the white people around them wanted to touch their hair (trust me, my Asian son who has been kept a bit clueless about this little American tick often asks why so many people rumple his hair... they're being friendly, you're cute, etc. That's okay. Its all true. Other Asians like to rumple his hair too, its right at hand level. But if he only knew what other Asian kids know about touchy-feely hair lovers... Ignorance is bliss.) I might get tired of arm-petting if I lived on Ganghwa. But as a single encounter, I was charmed. Charm is good.

A friend posted a thing on transracial adoption and racism on facebook today. I started to reply, but will basically sum up here instead:

Transracial adoption definitely makes people think differently about race. And mostly what I have come to think about race in America is that it's messed up. Not because race relations themselves are so messed up, but because the culture as a whole has this sickness where we are so easily offended (or assume the other person to be) that we are afraid to talk openly with one another. And so instead of a relationship between races that says "I like you, what is it like to be you?" We mutter "I like you" and shuffle our feet and wander off and the other person doesn't feel very liked or welcomed at all. I wish we could regain an innocence about race, on both sides, that we need to have a productive conversation... alas, that does not seem to be available in America right now.

Both of the above stories are about innocence and appreciation... I wish we could recover that, but most of our efforts have gone towards stamping them out in the name of anti-racism. I probably shouldn't say "recover" because a country founded on slavery and racial injustice never had the quality to regain, but I do think each of us does have an inherent innocence, if we don't have it stamped out in the cradle, that we can recover, and maybe one by one heal some wounds.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Kids at the funeral....

My middle child is the "new kid" at his school. Longtime readers of this blog know that we've homeschooled the kids until the middle one went to school for the first time this year. So he's the new kid, new to schooling in general, making his way through sixth grade. It has its ups and downs.

One of the downs early on was a seventh grader who seemed early on to be a good candidate for "nemesis"... I pictured him as big and bully-ish the way Middle Boy described him. Or perhaps just insecure, as the year wore on. Certainly Middle Boy's early close-calls with school discipline tended to involve this kid. They had two classes together; it was two too many.

Oddly enough, Middle Boy became friends with this "other kid"... kind of tentatively at first and in the way of middle school boys not always on solid footing but not shaky ground exactly either. Fine. Live and let live, maybe even have a little fun along the way. No problem.

Ex-Nemesis's grandfather passed away this week. When the announcement came through the school's email list, I figured it would be good for Middle Boy to go to the funeral home calling hours, sign the book, say something nice, offer a prayer. In and out, ten minutes. And learn a little bit about caring for others, pastoral graces, life and death. It was actually on Ash Wednesday. A fitting time.

So off we went to the funeral home. Middle Boy was not entirely sure about this plan, which took us a whopping two minutes out of the way on the commute home from school. I reminded him that this was a pretty lousy-minimal offering we could make, all the while squelching my own introverted dislike for the fact that I hadn't even met Ex-Nemesis, let alone any other living (or otherwise) soul I would see at this event. Also squelching, as life and ministry often call me to do, my innate dislike of the awkwardness of funeral home calling hour pleasantries. I admitted to the boy that this is an awkward thing to do, but we do it for others. Noble. Yea.

I reminded The Boy how kids he didn't know eased his experience when his grandmother passed away. It was a rainy day for a funeral and a friend's kids (who had never met my kids, etc.) took it into their heads, or maybe my kids thought of it first, that it would be a good idea to run outside in the rain in the church parking lot while the unsuspecting adults were at the reception. The well dressed grandsons of the deceased returned a half an hour later, dripping, soaked. Frankly, their grandmother would have been delighted by the antics, and the kids were glad of the break. Maybe we all should have run in the rain.

But I digress. On this note, we meandered into the funeral home. Ten minutes, in and out. We can do this. He signed the book. He scanned the room for his friend. He went awkward up to him and I have no idea what he said. They chatted for a while. I, sensitive to the needs of middle schoolers to occasionally appear to be self-sufficient orphans, made myself scarce. Ten minutes went by, twenty. Ex-Nemesis apparently showed The Boy where the cookies were kept. They made plans to rule the world. They took a walk into an unused chapel. My son was the break from all the boring adults.

Before I left, I met the other boy's mom. She thanked me for coming and said my son had given hers a much needed break. It was nice to meet another middle school mom, even under the circumstances. The boys have a lot in common and had some quality time together. Middle kid got a cookie in the deal, even though it was Ash Wednesday. And I hope he did learn a little about caring for others.

So much for ten minutes, we were there most of an hour. I'm glad we went. Even to embrace the awkward.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Am I a Hypocrite for Loving Google Earth?

Let me be clear, I've ranted for years about Google's invasions of privacy. Google has spied on our houses, mined our internet data, linked accounts we've never known we had, and eroded our privacy step by step. I've been quoted as saying Google is evil. I hate Google. Really.

Until the whole NSA data mining scandal broke and Google managed to walk above it all.

And frankly, I have a weakness in my argument.

I love Google Earth.

Really, I do.

I use it to scope out vacations before I take them. Today I took an skyview of the Wigwam Motel, a politically incorrect little collection of concrete cones on Route 66 where I hope to stay on a family vacation this summer just because we can. I used it last year to scope out Seoul. I use it to revisit Ganghwa (my most favorite spot in Korea) and Greece and other places I'd love to go back. I didn't finish with them, I want more.

I use it to snoop North Korea and parts of Africa and Russia and Europe and Israel and other places I would love to go, but for whatever reasons money or politics or religion, right now I can't.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not spending huge amounts of time on Google Earth, though the thought is tempting. I discovered recently that there's even a setting where you can look at some cities (Rome, Athens) with a historical view and see the reconstructed monuments. But its a great tool, when I'm reading about a place, to see what it looks like to walk those streets.

So I wonder, am I a hypocrite for loving Google Earth? Which value do I hold more dear, information or privacy? I'm honestly not sure. Or maybe like the peeping tom of the internet age, I value my privacy and your information... who wouldn't?

Maybe I should give up Google for Lent... or maybe I should give up hating Google for Lent... I guess I have three days to decide.

Friday, January 31, 2014

On Community

Yesterday, at a clergy gathering, I ended up seated next to a good friend who has very different tastes in music than I have. At Eucharist, we sang a hymn which is firmly on my top ten list of widely used hymns that I hate.

I mean really hate.

I grew up with this one, its an oldie, but not a goodie.

And I know I shouldn't hate such things, but and I guess hate is too strong a word, but it makes me think "yuck" every time I hear it. I find it narcissistic and pedantic and overall utterly lame.

And apparently my friend loves it.

So there we sat. Sharing a service book because she came late and didn't get one. And she began to sing. And some folks stood up, and she sort of started to, but I didn't and so she stayed where the booklet was. I would have gladly handed the booklet to her, but she wasn't forward enough to take it.

She sang, as in full throttle, hands in the air, head tossed back, eyes closed, loving Jesus for all she's worth, singing.

I waited for it to end. The music itself, her singing was fine.

And then it happened.

I looked over at her and couldn't help but smile.

And then I looked again and almost had a little fun.

And at the next verse it seemed appropriate to join the standing, for her sake, not mine.

And I looked over again and she was having a blast, so I guess so was I.

And that is what worship in community looks like. It's about sharing the things we love (and keeping our unlove quiet enough to be shared with) so that you don't have to love every song, you can just enjoy it vicariously with the person next to you. And I had fun. And so did she. And worship happened. And community happened.

And next time that song comes up, I'll still hate it. But for yesterday, it was fun.

And no, I'm not going to tell you what song it was.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Every Christian Should Read....

Tears of My Soul.

I just finished reading this book.  Literally, I could not put it down.  It is hard to believe that it has been twenty years since this biography was published.

Now when I say biography and "Every Christian should read..." don't roll your eyes at me.  This is not the standard schmaltzy Christian biography where Jesus loves me this I know and maybe I was a little naughty but he used me to reach the godless masses because cuddle cuddle love love.  No, this is the unlikeliest of stories, the unlikeliest of people. 

This is the biography of the North Korean terrorist who bombed a South Korean jetliner in hopes of creating chaos around the 1988 Olympic games in Seoul.  This was a woman trained to kill or be killed, for the sake of the Dear Leader who she openly admits was revered as a god.  This was a woman who took 115 lives, attempted to take her own, and found herself under a death sentence in South Korea.

This is the biography of a woman unexpectedly pardoned, granted freedom and a new life, and saw Jesus as the ultimate guarantor of real pardon, freedom and new life.

And knows what we mean when we say that while we were still sinners, while we were still entrenched in our terrorist ways, God loved us.  God sought us out in the darkest corners.  God saved us. 

And knows what it means to repent anew every day, turn around and follow him. 

What she does not know, is what happened to her family in the North.  She is a walking testimony to the God who snatches us up into his family, regardless of where we start out. 

Tears of My Soul.  Go read it. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

On Being 40.

Last year, my motto became "Embrace the 40."  Too many people freak out about turning 40, when really its just a day older than 39.  We age one day at a time, whether we like it, notice it, try to hide from it, or not. 

So I embraced the 40.  I rounded my age up for the most of the year, if only in my head.  Calling myself 40 before I really was disarmed the label. 

And having visited Korea last year, I was, briefly (by Korean reckoning) 41.  Why should 40 be a big deal this year if only last year I was 41?  (Koreans reckon age starting at 1 and adding a year for each Korean new year you've lived through, so technically I turned two (Korean) when I was just a few days (American) old. So there!)

And so I woke up on the morning of my rather bland birthday feeling boringly the same as I'd felt the night before.  Significantly older than fifteen, not much older than thirtysomething.  Fine.  I'd rather not be fifteen again anyway.  I can drive a car now and have visited a handful of foreign countries and can enjoy an occasional glass of wine and have these neat kids in my life.  Much better than fifteen when I was the kid.  Also fine.

And I went to bed that night feeling the same but with one blessed change.  I no longer had to worry about someone doing something mortifyingly embarrassing to my introverted self in attempt to "celebrate" my supposed milestone birthday.  I find the birthday song embarrassing, God knows I'd curl up and die if someone took out one of those idiotic billboards.  Now I no longer have to look forward to what idiocy my fortieth birthday may bring.  Bullet dodged.  Very fine.

So I'm now 40.  No I won't tell you when that happened.  I still have a bullet to dodge at fifty and I'll keep my cards close while I can.  I have a few grey hairs, well more like white, but I prefer to call them sliver.  My skin gets drier in the winter.  I can't eat just anything like I used to (although remarkably I'm not interested in eating some of the things I used to... a whole pizza? Yuck.  Cake? no thanks, I don't care for that much any more.  Soda?  Kind of tickles my throat now that I don't drink it regularly any more.)  But to those of you who haven't tried it yet, 40 isn't so bad.

Embrace it. 

And if all else fails, go to Korea when you're 39.  Worked for me.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy New Year

I've not exactly been all that stunning at getting the blogging on the past few months but I did want to take a moment and wish y'all a happy and wondrous new year. 

Our new years almost always start with a party at our house, which this year I did NOT feel like hosting.  But I had enough friends who asked if we were having the party that I decided I couldn't resist.  I'm so glad!  We spent the day surrounded by close friends, just the few who had asked us if we were partying this year, in a very comfortable lunchtime end of break celebration.

And today the boys are back at school/homeschool.  It would seem an odd jump into drudgery if we hadn't enjoyed our break to the last moment yesterday.  So thanks, friends.

And you, gentle reader, I hope you are surrounded by friends also.  Spend the year in good company and remember those who cannot. 

Happy New Year.