Sunday, June 28, 2009

Thoughts on Jackson and Fawcett

While any death is sad, what is especially saddening about Michael Jackson's death is what it says about our society. This person was a sad and lonely figure, the result of a twisted, immoral way of thinking, most probably carried to the extreme of being a pervert. Yet he is hailed worldwide, for what? For his abilities to entertain on a stage. People are devastated and say so openly. I heard one commentator compare him to Mozart. People just don't know how to think any more - not only how to think Biblically, but even just with some moral basis to their thoughts. Michael Jackson's life was not worthy of the world's huge praise - just its pity.

Farrah Fawcett's death does sadden me. I watched the rerun of the special on her cancer fight, and she truly was brave in her fight with this terrible disease. There was also something endearing about her - if one can mentally get past the mechanism of how she rose to fame, her lovely smile and personality appeared to be genuine. In interviews, people who grew up with her said that even though it was obvious that with her beauty all the boys were all attracted to her, the girls liked her too - she was truly a friendly person. However, it does not seem to matter to people that she lived in an immoral situation for much of her life. I found myself watching the special on her life, thinking that she seemed to be a very likeable person, and hoping that somehow, particularly in the closing days of her life if not before, that she found the true way to salvation, and is now in heaven - not as an angel, but as one who has been redeemed.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Thoughts on our Governor

In less than a week, our governor has changed in perception from a man worthy of respect to a man who may have to resign because of his reckless and immoral behavior.

As I wrote yesterday in an email reply to my uncle,

"This is a conservative state and most people are unhappy with his licentious behavior. Virtually all are unhappy with his mysterious absence - No one, not even his staff, knew where he was for almost a week! Imagine if there had been a natural disaster or something where the immediate intervention of the governor was necessary for relief efforts (as example - the Myrtle Beach fires of two months ago where the gov. had to cut short an economic development trip to come back to authorize National Guard mobilization). A man who lies so flagrantly to his family and staff has lost his character, credibility, and moral authority."

I find the governor's wife's actions to be particularly impressive. She has put boundaries around him - an absolute necessity with a man like that. She has let him take the fallout for his own actions and has not enabled him - i.e. standing next to him like so many pitiful betrayed wives do at these particularly pathetic press conferences that we see from time to time. She stayed in the capital until her boys were out of school - no doubt thinking about preventing upheaval for them - and then took them to their family home on the coast. She made her husband leave the home so that she could sort through her own thoughts. She is putting the burden of decision on him. Her statement to the press: "I am not worried about his career- that's his concern. I'm worried about my family and the character of my children." (emphasis mine) For a woman who has to be in huge pain and embarrassment, she is thinking clearly and standing up well. I hope she has a good support group of friends and family, and I pray for her every day.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Vacation Bible School

Dad told me that Vacation Bible School is starting at their church tonight. Boy, does that ever bring back memories. VBS was far more than just attending for our family. I'd say that's one of the best ways that my siblings and I learned the meaning of "service." I have lots of memories:

I remember Mark and I would pour what seemed like thousands of plaster molds of plaques to be used in crafts for the teenagers. They were usually Bible verses with flowers or other decorations around them. He and I would mix up the plaster of paris and then fill all the molds, repeating it over and over until Mom said we had enough. The "Casting All Your Care Upon Him" mold was the easiest because it was flat (it looked like a slab of distressed wood) and the one with a big rose was the hardest - and of course it was the one we needed the most of, because everybody wanted to paint that one. But the rose was much thicker and heavier than the part of the plaque with the verse - which I can't remember - and therefore much more prone to breaking as it came out of the mold. I remember much frustration over trying to pour enough rose plaques. I'd also paint samples of each plaque, which was a lot of fun.

We'd line tables with newspaper - teens would stand around them - and every week had the same order: Monday night - base coat; Tuesday - varnish; Wednesday - finger paints with metallic paint decoration; Thursday - spray finish over the whole thing; Friday - if you were faithful and came all week you didn't have anything to do this night because those who had missed a night needed to get done.

Some years decoupage was the teen craft. That was a slightly different order: Monday night - sanding the board base and trying to burnish the edges of the card or picture we were using (now that was interesting - we ruined a lot of pictures that way); Tuesday - varnish; Wednesday - putting on the picture with decoupage and rolling, rolling it with a special tool to make it completely flat; Thursday - paint decoupage all over the plaque; Friday - attach a hanger (and finish up the latecomers like with the plaster).

Then there were the treats. The first night was always boxed cookies from Kroger, and the last night was always ice cream in some form. But over the years I helped make hundreds - thousands? - of rice krispie treats, and other baked goods, often with Grandma Hemmer, for kiddies to eat at VBS.

There's more I could remember about Vacation Bible School, but I'm getting tired just thinking about all that craft and treat stuff. And, since we helped at three churches, all this was times three every summer. We loved it.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day 2009

Not the best of shots - I took this after it was finished but before I put the glass in the front. Lots of memories!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Both offspring are at camp this week. Andrew continues counseling in Louisiana and by all accounts is enjoying it greatly. Last weekend he and several others even took their off time to go to a church in Texas to do a youth activity. I predict that this coming weekend he will be very tired, after not really getting any relaxation between the two weeks of camp. But then, he's young, and in middle age I'm probably not remembering well how much energy reserve twenty-somethings have.

ML has gone to the Wilds teen camp for the last time. I remember well how, nine years ago, she was very nervous about going to camp for a full week for the first time. Andrew was going to the Bill Rice Ranch for the second year, and there was room for her to go - but she was just not sure if she wanted to go along yet or not. The idea was tantalizing but, after all, she was only going into the fourth grade--and she had had a negative experience at a shorter church-related camp, close by, the year before. We didn't pressure her but left the decision up to her. On the last day she decided - yes, she was going to go. Even then, she boarded the bus that Sunday morning with a little apprehension.

All week, I was concerned that maybe she was homesick and unhappy. I knew there were good people from our church who would take care of her, but a mother just doesn't rest easy if she's not sure about her kid.

The following Saturday, the bus pulled back into the church parking lot, and ML was crying - because she had to come home.

After that, she went to the Ranch for, if I remember right, three more summers in a row. Then she went to the Wilds several times and Southland a couple of times also. Camp has just been part of her summer experience year after year. So this week marks the end of an era; I trust an era of growth and edification in her life. She's come a long way for a girl who that first year wasn't sure if she even wanted to go to camp at all.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Pastor Brown's Last Sermon

Today Pastor Brown, our assistant pastor who is going to a pastorate in Wisconsin, preached his last sermon at our church. He got up in the pulpit, and his first words, as he choked up, were, "Today we are here to magnify Christ." And that is what he did throughout his entire sermon, which was on the glory of God - a wonderful sermon, the best I've heard him preach. He was not the only person in the service who got a little choked up.

This past week I read where someone said "Too many preachers take the attitude of 'Behold me as I show you how to behold Christ.'" That has not been the attitude of Pastor Brown. Everything about his messages pointed to Christ, not to himself.

Pastor Brown has been the nuts-and-bolts man at our church for a long time. His servant spirit and attitude of humility have always been apparent. He will be greatly missed.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Middle Age Strikes Again

There are paper towels and a bottle of spray cleaner on the wall at the Y for people to clean the workout machines after they use them. I was leaving this morning, and looked down and realized I was carrying the bottle of cleaner with me. Weird. I started back to return it to the wall and realized I'd put my water bottle in the cleaner holder. Maybe I shouldn't admit that out loud.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Butterfly Garden Preparation

Mike was tired of trying to get his mower inside the fence behind the house to mow this little patch of grass. So, when we saw the butterfly garden at Silver Bluff, he was inspired to do something similar here.

Just beginning to take up the sod

All the grass removed (some of it moved to the front yard)

Spreading good black fill dirt on top of the red clay

Working in the good topsoil

Pine needles spread over all
We may not do much more with it until next year - or may start putting things in here as we find them. It is going to be a fun project. Best of all - no mowing!

There's No Such Thing As A . . .

This morning's Anderson newspaper contained a feature article about the summer lunch program being provided in Anderson county schools. (It was actually the headline article with a full-page photograph on the front page of the new tabloid-style newspaper - feature articles are now the primary source of attraction to make folks buy the paper. But that's another subject.)

Anyone who wants - no income requirements - anyone can go to the half-dozen schools in the area that serve free breakfast and lunch. Adults have to pay something like $1.75 for breakfast and $3.00 for lunch. But anyone under 18 eats for free.

People interviewed for the article gushed about how wonderful this is. A home daycare provider plans to take her entire brood each day. A couple of kids are making plans to ride on their bikes to the school each day. And the lunchroom ladies pointed out how several children came in on Monday, having not been fed since they left the cafeteria from lunch the previous Friday.

I'm certainly not against finding ways to help hungry children. But, contrary to the article, this is not a free program. I am paying for it, as are you, whether we want to or not. I would much prefer to donate to the charities of my choice, rather than be forced to pay through taxes.

And, this completely removes responsibility from parents. If a child has not been fed from a Friday to a Monday, proactive action needs to be taken to get those parents to face up to responsibilities, even if the children have to be removed from the home.

Nothing in particular will happen, however. There is such a huge underbelly of people depending on the government for their provision in many areas, even in towns like Anderson, that the problem will just get larger and larger. People like being provided for. They don't think - or care- about the fact that provision means control.

Monday, June 8, 2009

How Many Years Has It Been?

My old roommate Beth and her husband came to lunch today. She hasn't changed a bit. We just picked up where we left off. . .can it be 30 years ago? Surely not! Sometime when my daughter is here and can show me how to scan in old photos, I'll post one from when we were in college together. I always appreciated Beth's friendship in those days.

Beth - when are you going to start your blog? I'll be your most faithful reader!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Five More - This Time from the Classics

I didn't even think about the classics in that list. So, five more:
  3. THE GREAT GATSBY by Fitzgerald
  4. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee

Fifteen Books

My friend Barbara posted a question that she took from a meme: Name fifteen books that have stuck with you. Here's my off-the-top list:
  2. SHADOW OF THE ALMIGHTY and other works by Elisabeth Elliott
  3. LITTLE HOUSE series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  4. A GARDEN TO KEEP by Jamie Langston Turner
  5. LIES WOMEN BELIEVE by Nancy Leigh DeMoss
  6. EASTERN BIRDS by Roger Tory Peterson
  7. DON'T WASTE YOUR LIFE by John Piper
  8. MUSINGS OF A MOTHER by Doris Coffin Aldrich
  9. EVIDENCE NOT SEEN by Darlene Deibler Rose
  10. YEARS OF THE LOCUST and other works by Loula Grace Erdman
  11. THE VANISHING WORD by Arthur W. Hunt
  12. Anything by A.W. Tozer
  13. CALM MY ANXIOUS HEART by Linda Dillow
  14. THE TRIUMPH OF JOHN AND BETTY STAM by Mrs. Howard Taylor
  15. FAVORITE POEMS OLD AND NEW compiled by Helen Ferris

This is a very fast and eclectic list; I'll probably think of many others that probably should have been included. But it's a good overview of things I've read over the years that have impacted me in various ways.

Monday, June 1, 2009

My Son the Camp Counselor

Andrew starts counseling today, after a week of training. He called today since he now has to turn off his phone for the week. I think that's good - campers' parents aren't paying for the counselors to be talking or texting on the phone all week long.

He is going to have juniors this week, including some inner-city youngsters. This is going to be an educational summer for him in many ways! A summer of camp is a good experience - for the counselor.

I learned much about myself the summer that I did it - and not all of it was pretty. I learned that a counselor is a servant who puts his campers' needs above his own. I learned that if a toilet needed to be cleaned, I was not too good to do it. I learned that some campers have needs that I cannot solve and that much has to be taken to the Lord for wisdom. Much prayer is needed also for physical and mental strength.

This morning we mailed him some shirts he needs, and found out that FedEx is about half the cost of the USPS. Didn't know that. The box was $10 FedEx and would have been $22 USPS. Whew - big difference!