Saturday, November 29, 2008

Urgent prayer request for missionaries in Jos, Nigeria

I have received two emails from Mary Beth Oyebade, who is an ELCA missionary in Jos, Nigeria, requesting prayers for an to end the violence there and for the safety of the missionary community there. You can find some current information on her blog. Look for the posts from Nov. 28, 2008 and newer. With the terrorism currently happening in India, I don't expect much of this news to be on American TV. But I've read that at least 300 have died in Jos the first day of the violence. This is "pre-election" violence and may be targeting Muslims and foreigners.

There is also a website that explains the work that is being done and the history of their Mashiah Foundation.

We are friends with Mary Beth's parents and I have met her when her family has been in town visiting. We have purchased quilted items made by the women at the Mashiah foundation. You can see that here.

Please ask your friends and churches to pray for safety for the people in Jos, Nigeria!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Agenda for the week:

Prepare some bread and pie dough ahead of time.

Roast the turkey ahead of time.

Prepare a unique dinner ahead of time.


Toddler proof the house.  Fat chance.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The sun isn't working

I haven't seen the sun in awhile. The weather forecaster lady promised sun today and for a few days. It is sure dark around here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Two Questions:

1)  Why is November so cloudy?
2)  Why is it lately that when I wake up, my hair is standing straight up? 

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Stolen from the Children's Sermon

(which may have been taken from an unknown source as well.)
A building contractor was going to be leaving on a trip, so he called his three employees into the office and told them of his plans.  Then he told the first carpenter that he was giving the man a very large tool box full of new tools that he knew the man would be able to use well.  He told the second employee that her new tool box was smaller, but it contained all that she needed to do some work while he would be away.  To the third employee, he gave a small tool box, but told the fellow that it contained a good quality hammer, screw driver, saw, and a few other basic tools.  Then he left.
The first employee knew that the contractor had a heart for the homeless, so he built homes for them.  The second employee knew that the contractor loved old people, so he did a number of repairs to the homes of the elderly in the community.  "And what do you think the third employee did?" asked our youth director?  "Build a dog house." replied one of the kids. 
Of course, those readers who are familiar with the lectionary know that Matthew tells us that the last "employee" hid his gift so that it wouldn't be lost.  The last carpenter never opened his tool box because he didn't want to get those nice shiny tools scratched or dirty. 

Sunday, November 09, 2008

I DO go to Church

I truly feel sorry for the people who only go to church to attend a funeral. They would have a certain emotional reaction to the word "church." How can they know the true worship experience, the ups the downs, the family of God feeling, the worship-in-spite-of-difficulties, and the worship-because-of-blessings?

Many years ago (could it really be 36 years ago?) I heard a stewardship sermon that talked about making a commitment to attend worship. The idea wasn't to wake up on Sunday and THEN decide, should I go to church today? But rather, to decide that attending a worship service will be what I do on Sunday. I have honored that commitment most of the time. [I'm not consistent about going when I'm away from home.] I have honored that during a bad time when I didn't pray for 6 months. I thought that I would be a bad example to my children if I bailed out on church just because I had a health problem that was messing with me emotionally.

Sometimes on Saturday, I have said, "I don't want to go to church tomorrow." My husband will say, "You don't have to go." But on Sunday morning, I still get up and go. I've found that usually on those Sundays, something speaks to me most personally, so I'm glad to be there.

This post was first a comment on Dr. John's Fortress, 11/09/2008

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Reflections on changing racial interactions

This morning I was hit with some memories of how race has played a part in my life.
I grew up in a white neighborhood, but the grade school, two blocks away, was slightly integrated. We had two star musicians, one was Black and one was Asian. Two blocks in the other direction was one of the "housing projects" where some Blacks lived, which was why they attended the same school that I attended. Actually, the majority of people in that project were white, as one had to be a veteran to live there. Race was never talked about in school; non-white issues were invisible, but the kids seemed to get along just fine.
I do remember inviting a Black girl to stay overnight at my house. Unfortunately, my mother knew that my father would never accept that, so my mom had to call that girls mom and uninvite her. I was mortified and I doubt I dealt with this issue with my friend.
In junior high, I started noticing racial tensions between students. I remember seeing an Asian boy getting pounded in the bike parking lot. In my high school, of 3600 kids, there were people of all kinds, but we all "knew" that if one wasn't white, one would never be elected to any office. But within a few years, Blacks started living in the regular neighborhoods and were elected to such things homecoming king. By then I was away at college, which was quite white with some kids deliberately imported from Chicago, so that "integration" was there in a forced way.
The places I've lived since graduation have been overwhelmingly white. The non-whites are, for the most part, not Black. "Race" and "mixed-race" has a different meaning for me than for many people. My family is "mixed-race." I sometimes forget that others don't see me this way because it isn't so visibly obvious, especially when I'm by myself!
My son loves baseball. When he was about 6, we would watch the games on TV and notice the differences between the players. We made comments that celebrated these differences rather than ranking people by their differences. When he was in 2nd grade, I bought him a book about Jackie Robinson. His teacher called me with some concerns after he read that book, "___ has been saying, 'I'm not black.' over and over." He had learned from that book about the persecution that Jackie Robinson had faced when he played major league baseball. My son was distancing himself from this player because of skin color but not because of any feeling of superiority.
In later years, I've asked my son about racial issues. He would tell me specific names of only a few kids in high school whom he thought were racist. But mostly that wasn't an issue. I think when people have known each other all their lives, these issues fade into the background. My son actually told me that he used his race to his advantage at times because he stood out. Perhaps issues would arise if kids were dating, but since most of the "non-white" families I know of here are mixed race, it is obvious that people here have been comfortable mixing for a couple of generations. Yet, another non-white family we know told me that they were self-employed because of the difficulty of finding jobs here.
Now that my son lives in a big city and has worked at several jobs, we've had some discussions about race. He feels that racism has been at play in not getting some jobs he applied for. When unemployment is so high, I'm not sure how one would figure that out as there could be many excuses for not hiring somebody. But he has told me that occasionally the person interviewing him would ask him some direct questions about his background.
I've had fewer conversations about race with my other kids, but there were some telling comments. One told me that other students assumed that our kids were foster kids. My third child wanted nothing to do with the organizations at college that were promoting racial or ethnic pride and knowledge. I'm not sure if she missed out on something helpful or not.
At one time, the only thing my kids knew about Black people was what they saw on TV and that wasn't always very positive. It wasn't just Black people who lacked role models. Now my kids and grandkids and all kids will be able to turn on the TV and see that Blacks, just like Whites, are in all positions and jobs, top to bottom. Lets hope that people of other groups will soon also have these same opportunities.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Prayer for the president elect

Dear Lord, I ask that You will bless our new president-elect. May he seek wisdom from You. May he appoint wise counselors. May he be the president of all the people. I ask You to help all of our citizens to support the president and put differences behind them. I ask You to forgive all of us who have had any uncharitable thoughts about people who feel differently about political positions. The Bible shows that You work through leaders who follow You and through leaders who don't, so I know that You can bless the outcomes of all the elections across our land so that Your will can be accomplished. Amen.

Reflecting on Voting

I was reading a few blogs about other people's feelings about voting, which made me remember my first voting experience. The first time I voted was in 1972. I seem to remember that the voting age had just changed, so even though younger people could now vote, I was voting for the first time, though I was already technically an adult with a "real job" and living on my own. [Well, renting a room in the home of a family since being a beginning teacher didn't pay enough to live truly on one's own. I didn't even have a car.] My father died shortly before the election, so I had to register and apply for an absentee ballot, because I'd be going out of state for the funeral. The actual voting was not so dramatic because it was on the absentee ballot.

I'd have to look up exactly who was running for president each time I voted, but I do remember that almost always I've voted for the loser in the presidential election. One particular time, I remember going into a sort of depression because of who was elected president. We survived that period of time and many people consider him to be a great president, although I don't.

My husband has predicted that whomever wins this election won't win again in four years because the problems are so enormous and the promises have been too big. I predict that whomever wins doesn't have enough hours in a day to fulfill all the promises that have been made, so I hope that the new president will be able to inspire us all to work harder for the good of our whole country.

I Voted

Monday, November 03, 2008

News shows, biases, and what the candidates say.

I'll admit it: I've become a news junkie recently. I can't say that I really enjoy watching the news about the campaign, but there is something intriguing about the whole thing. There is also something sick about it. I heard today that the total being spent is about ONE BILLION dollars. I'm not sure if this is just on the presidential campaign, or if that includes the other races.
Because our old TV can get about a zillion stations, I can switch between local stations that show local and state candidates whining about how they've shown such great leadership that they deserve to be elected again, because they can work across the aisle. These are supposed to be their attempt at positive ads, but that is only in comparison to the previous vicious ads containing distortions that were shown to backfire. The opposition tries to stick to the issues, but someone who has a history of pointing out problems in society doesn't necessarily have the ways and means to fix those problems.
I eagerly awaited a debate between three candidates so I could learn more about the independent candidate. When his solution to the current problems was to get the people back into the store to start buying things again, my reaction was, "Hellooooooooooo. That's what got us into this pickle in the first place." My mark on the ballot won't go next to his name.
Then there are the big three networks and the cable networks. Some people accuse each of being too liberal, too conservative, or too something or other to be unbiased. Some of the journalists do make an effort to be balanced and unbiased, but others make no pretense about hiding their own views. I'm amazed at the pomposity of some of the hosts of the shows on the so-called cable networks (we don't have cable, but we get these shows.) They choose their "guests" to slant views in a certain direction and/or they jump all over the views expressed by the guests. Some of these shows at least have the honesty to name their biases. Others pretend to be unbiased journalism. There are a couple of hosts, however, who treat the guests with respect and make at least an attempt to have people with divergent views. I personally have no respect for the guests who interrupt the other guests.
News as entertainment is problematic. But we've discovered a relatively new "news" show that has an unhidden bias, but has great wit as well. Last night this show ran tape of a number of the verbal gaffs of the presidential and vice presidential candidates, including some of those who wanted to be the presidential candidate. It was interesting to see if and how each noticed when he made a major mistake in speaking and how each tried to recover.
Those were only short clips, so they are hardly a good measure of the candidates. But making mistakes, realizing it, and reformulating what one says or reformulating a policy is, in my mind, a good measure of the humanity, humility, and wisdom of a leader. Our candidates have sometimes taken an idea, especially a proposal from the opposition, and twisted it enough to make it seem wrong or even evil. I've wondered how much each of them really believes what he is saying? Does he know that he is twisting facts and words? Does his staff ever tell him that he has made an error? If he is told it is wrong, but repeats it anyway, what does that say about his character? I hope whomever wins can actually feel proud of how the campaign was run.
NOTE: He = he/she.

Negative campaign ads that make you think...

I heard an interview a few weeks ago with two guys that supply the voices for the negative campaign ads. One of the men said, well, he had kids to put through college. They demonstrated how they use their voices to make even neutral words sound ominous. It was sadly funny.

Here are a couple of links, assuming I can do them correctly, that show similar inflections. {Somebody please tell my how to correctly put these UTube links in a blog.] Warning: philosophers speak from the grave.

Kierkegaard in '08 Kant Attack Ad

Saturday, November 01, 2008

The opposing thumb

Do you remember being taught in school about how the opposing thumb is what makes us better than the apes? That and our brains, but I do wonder about the brains when I read about how some of the candidates and some of the pundits twist what the other side has said. Well, I digress.

I have developed a pain in the thumb. I don't know if it is a strain, a strain, or perhaps, arthritis, which I do have elsewhere. I have both the heredity type of arthritis that makes the fingers point in all directions and the injury kind in my knees.

And just like when you get a cut on your finger, you discover just how often you use that finger, I have discovered just how often I need to oppose my thumb and forefinger with some force to hold something or open something.

Well, here's to aging.