Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

The presents are not yet wrapped, the cookies unbaked, but the greetings are HERE. Merry Christmas to you all. May you be blessed by the Christ Child who now grants us Grace unbounded and Love complete. May you be filled with His love and pass it on to all you meet.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

School budget shortfall effects us all.

I've been going to the local school pool for about 15 years for twice weekly water aerobics. Because I have moderately severe knee arthritis, there are many limitations on my activities on land, but in the pool, I can move with no pain or stiffness for the whole hour.

Like every unit of government I know of, the school district (largest geographically in the US) is in difficult financial straights. A bond issue election has failed three times. The board is looking at what to cut, and they can expect reduced help from the state because there is a projected 5 billion (with a B) over the next three years at the state level. [Good work, Republicans!] What can a district cut when they are already just about down to the bone and the state allows the students to transfer anywhere and take their state money with them?

Enter those of us who don't want to close the three pools in the district. The board members from areas without pools think that this is an easy thing to cut. Those of us who use the pools disagree. But this isn't just a matter for a handful of adults who get into the water. This affects the kids who need to learn to swim. And it effect those who would like to become life guards.

I sent letters with my reasons to keep the pools open. My biggest reason is that I know of two people whose lives were saved because two of the students who took the life guarding classes have saved lives, not at the pool, but when they were recreating. I witnessed my daughter save a big guy who is 6 feet tall, but who panicked when he swam too far from shore.

The results of what is learned (and not learned) in school are not always apparent in the normal course of life, but many things come out in the long run. You just never know how you affect those you teach.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Plowed out and ready to go at minus 30 degrees!

It's MINUS 30 degrees. What can I say? But the driveway is plowed, so I can get out and go to the pool!

The driveway didn't get plowed of the 10 inches of snow until 6:30 pm, so my husband got a snow day. I'm sure that plow driver was tired. Each driveway must take about 3X as long as usual. That plow job will probably cost about $50, but what is a person to do? The driveway is 1/10th mile long.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Snow Day

We're in the midst of a blizzard; minus three now. We did have church this morning, but the Christmas Joint Choir concert for the evening was canceled. Tomorrow will be a snow day. I think I'll make Christmas Cookies. I wonder if I can convince DH to help?

I'm cheating with this picture; it is from a year ago, but it is DARK out can I take a picture?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Stewardship, Charity, and the church. Who gives to what?

I highly recommend this blog article entitled The Decline and Fall of Charity, posted at Culture 11. It gives some statistics about what amounts of money churches take in and what is spent on site and what goes to other charities. It is an eye opener. I'm bringing it to the attention of the Stewardship committee tomorrow.

Two reflections:
I attended a wedding at a church in a suburb that is known to be on the high end of the income distribution list, so to speak. Certainly the bride and groom are not in that group, but apparently, the groom attends church there. This was about the largest, fanciest church building I've been it. It was beautiful even though it was very modern. There was much that was unnecessary to the furthering of the telling of the story of Christ, if I may be so judgmental, such as many indoor trees. There was a large baptismal pool, even though the denomination is solidly in the infant baptism camp. They are going to remodel the pool. I asked about the church and somebody told me that the church was known for working on justice issues. It was not the time to get into the details of that, but I did wonder how much justice there is in spending on a beautiful interior when only 8 miles away, there are people destitute in freezing cold apartments.

Our church has been working on a building remodeling plan for several years and we are finally in the last steps of the actual engineering plan before there will be a vote. Given the hard economic times, closing of several (some of the only) large employers in the area, I do wonder if the vote will be "yes." And will we be able to get a loan to complete our fund raising? Within my household, there has been discussion about the virtues of this project: Are we feathering our own nest at the expense of other issues/causes that our church might support? Should we commit our fiances to this cause or give more to other causes we already support?

My opinion prevailed; we are supporting this remodeling. The major reasons are 1) our church building is heavily used (maybe 500/week) by the community at large, so this is part of our mission, and 2) much of the building is quite worn out and needs much work, such as insulation, new windows, roof (which currently leaks), the furnace is about dead, plumbing is bad, and many areas are poorly lit. I think much of this needs to be done even if the vote is NO.

However, in the grand scheme of things, we do have a large building with many rooms, and we do a good job of ministry in that old building. It is better than much of the world has.

How does your church give beyond its walls and how does it feather its own nest?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Jos, Nigeria, violence; missionary

The violence in Jos, Nigeria has calmed down. The extent of the killing and destruction is shocking. More of both the good news and the bad news of the situation first stated in this post can be found at Mary Beth's blog [look for postings from Nov. 30, 2008 and more current] and at the Christianity Today blog.

Many of Mary Beth's acquaintances have suffered in this situation. Please pray for them. Her writings are a great testament to her faith and how a sense of equilibrium can prevail in the midst of chaos.