Making Progress

I did change the toilet seat in the boys’ bathroom. That was something I wanted done/fixed.

I bought curtains for the media room. Then I replaced them three times before the rod finally stayed up. Then I realized I had hung them too high. And that was only one pair. I may never get the others done. Which will be a waste of the $100 the curtains cost.

I went by the consignment furniture store to see about getting my tables sold. Turns out they rarely take glass tables. R suggested taking a digital picture and seeing if they would take them. I haven’t done that yet.

Sometimes the more you do, the less you feel you’ve done. I cleaned the kitchen, scoured it and everything. Then we cooked again and it’s a disaster area.

Things I Want

But don’t really need. Let’s make it clear first; I have more than I will ever need- except for consumables. Some of those I have too many of too.

Things I want, in no particular order:

Curtains for the media room that are hung well and actually cover the windows when closed.

Head and footboard for the bed. Preferably cherry or mahogany stain. Definitely actual wood.

A new dining room set which sits eight comfortably, has leaves, and doesn’t fall apart.

Non-white couches. (Slip covers will do in the teen room.) My folks may be giving me two leather couches, oh how cool. So I may get those.

Bed linens that I picked out, that I like, with curtains and pillows to coordinate. One problem with those is that I’m having trouble finding something I like. Another is that I haven’t found anything I like that R likes as well.

Get rid of the desk in the teen room that is somewhat broken.

New siding.

New air conditioner.

If I had a new dining room set, then I would want to give my aunt and uncle the table and four chairs. (I think they may want the two nice ones, but I want to keep those.) If I get a new dining room set and they don’t want the others, then I guess I could take them down to the furniture consignment store. Anyway, that would get rid of the large table in my living room corner.

Also I would like a map table for my living room. I’ve always preferred a table with drawers. However, on a TV show the other day I saw a wooden coffee table with a shelf underneath it. That looked nice. I guess I might like one of those. I’ll have to start looking around. If I get one of those, then I would take my glass and brass table set to the consignment store. They’re in good condition and we might actually make some money off of them.

Getting a new dining room set would remove 5 pieces from my house, but replace it with more. However, all of those would be in the dining room and not some in the dining room and some in the living room.

Getting a new map table would remove 3 pieces from my house.

Ah hah. Get furniture to clean out your house. That’s a new concept.

If I could find a Duncan Phyfe dresser in good condition I would buy it. Then I would give my youngest the rock maple dresser I bought my husband for my birthday and get rid of the painted piece in M’s bedroom. I found an Empire style dark wood dresser that I liked, but it’s not a style I tend to like and I don’t want to get something I won’t like later. Been there, done that.

There’s a piece of art I want. But it’s more than I want to pay for it and then I would have to frame it. So I probably won’t get it. I missed one I wanted that was a reasonable price, but I would have had to put it on a credit card and I didn’t want to do that.

There’s another piece of art that I like which is already framed, but I don’t know if I really like it or if it is just that the colors appeal to me. It’s an abstract Asian mountain scene in royal blue and scarlet.

After I wrote this, I came up with another, but now I can’t remember it.

A door. A pretty, non-teal-gray-green front door.

Having Goals

When you have multiple goals, they often compete with one another. The desire to be financially independent will clash with ditching your job and going to film school. A plan to be out of debt and have savings is sabotaged by a steady stream of “small” purchases that are outside the budget. While remodeling a kitchen is an exciting goal, spending all the money that could go to it on kitchen gadgets limits the goal’s promise of fruition.

So, here’s what I think you should do. Look at the options. I know you love options. Think about them. Examine the reprecussions. What does this one look like five years down the road? How far down the road do you have to be to achieve your goals?

Today most people in the US live fairly healthy lives into their early 70s. Good genetics and a positive lifestyle can give you many more years. According to Reuter’s gambling can help as well.

So, if you are 40 look at your life. You don’t love your job but you make too much money to just quit. Your current lifestyle depends on that job. Do you love your current lifestyle more than you hate the job? Don’t say no unless you can easily make cuts in your lifestyle now to ease the transition.

If you can say no, then start looking at ways to trim the fat. Obviously commitments cannot be undone. However, you could drop the Netflix or the satellite, or both. If you half your salary you won’t be able to afford either. If you’ve been going out to eat a lot, stop. This isn’t an imposition placed on you by your financial position, but a choice you make to reach a place you would prefer to be. If you can’t make the changes when it’s an option, how are you going to deal with the reality of not being able to afford those things?

Perhaps you own a home. It is often a valued treasure, but it doesn’t have to be. Renting allows you to move around without having to wait for the market to catch up to your desires. If your house is large, you might be able to opt for a smaller one, but examine your family’s needs.

If your children are off at college and don’t appear likely to boomerang, a smaller and less expensive home might be a good purchase. If you’ve recently refinanced, however, this is going to cost you a bit. Also, the market has to be hot to move a home quickly. If you aren’t in a hurry, of course, you can put your house on the market and wait. But will you enjoy having your house ready for visitors at any moment, cleared of personal items which make it yours in an attempt to show it “designed to sell”? Also, the longer a house has been on the market, the lower the offering price is going to be from most savvy buyers.

If you are not willing to give up your lifestyle, before you have to, then you aren’t going to like having to give it up later. Often this leads to debt, trying to live at the level you prefer rather than the level you can afford.

What if you’re bored? First, realize that everyone is bored sometimes. No one loves every second of their lives and you are not going to be the exception, even if you change your life around to be something totally different.

If you are bored, what simple steps can you take now to undo that boredom and put some challenge back in your life? One thing would be to take a class in something you are not skilled at but would like to be. Maybe take several. Look for weekend classes or seminars in something you enjoy as a hobby or would enjoy as a hobby. Take those.

Change up your life in some other way. Take up weight lifting if you don’t do it now. Or begin to ride your bike. Commit to some early morning walks with your wife, even though you’d rather sleep till you have to get up. Move the furniture in your house around, maybe even shift a whole room. And don’t just go for something “reasonable.” What would happen if you switched your bedroom and the living room? Or your living and dining rooms?

Talk to your spouse about their view of yall’s life. You may find that they are making assumptions about what you want and you may be thinking they want one thing when something else is a priority. There are many things I would like to buy, but I have two problems. One is that I don’t like debt. The second is that my husband’s priorities are different from mine. I rarely purchase something unless there is extra money, while my husband purchases things and we “find” the money. Try acting from your spouse’s worldview for a while. It will be a struggle and not any fun, for either of you, but it will definitely be a change.

Another aspect you should examine is where are you in life. If your children are gone, you have a lot more flexibility to do things because you have fewer financial responsibilities. If your children are small, then adjustments will be easier for them now, even if they aren’t easier for you and your spouse. They’ll just assume that how life plays out is the way it supposed to be. If, however, your children are in their early teens, you have only a short time until college. While it is true that a child can pay for college and there is financial aid for people with less money, this is harder than having the money for college yourself. Maybe you need to plan on making the major changes ten years down the road. Look for smaller ones you can make now.

Realize that competing goals will crunch into each other. Prioritize what you want and stick with those priorities. Let’s say you want to attend film school, remodel your kitchen, and spend money on gadgets as you desire them. Those are three goals competing for your money. You are not going to be in a position to attend film school if you do the second and third. You won’t be able to remodel your kitchen if you attend film school or spend all your money on gadgets.

You will have to clearly differentiate between a goal and a dream. I dream of looking drop dead gorgeous. I have a goal of losing 15 more pounds of fat and gaining 5 pounds of muscle. I am not planning on plastic surgery, which is what it would take to make the first a goal. However, I am eating right, exercising, and lifting weights; that makes the second a goal and not a dream.

If you aren’t willing to PERSONALLY invest in getting it done, it is a dream not a goal. Dreams are fun. You can spend days, weeks, months, even years perfecting a dream. But it is never going to happen because you aren’t doing what it takes to get it. Dreams can, however, get you out of the monotony of your every day life and make the future seem more exciting.

If you are willing to change what you are doing, and not expecting others to make what you want possible, then it is a goal.

If you have a spouse, you have to have the spouse on board to accomplish a goal. After all, if you want film school more than a kitchen remodel and your spouse doesn’t care about film school or a kitchen remodel but is planning on driving a hot red Jaguar or a silver Mazda RX-8, you’re going to have troubles. You may come home with the applications to USC filled out and find a new car in the garage and four years’ worth of payments that you’ll now have to juggle on a student’s salary.

Sit down and talk to your spouse. And listen to what they have to say. Don’t make a list of the five things you want and have them make a list of the five things they want and then say, “Okay. Let’s do my number one first.” They may help you with your number one because they love you or they’re a doormat or simply because they would rather not fight, but that’s not someone who’s totally in your corner. When you are making big changes, you want someone who made the choice with you, not someone who will say, “Well, this is what you said you wanted. Live with it.”

Another thing to do is to examine your last few big goals and/or purchases. Whose did you get? Where has your money and time gone? If you’ve been giving in a lot, if your spouse has been getting the priority, maybe you can talk to them about this and make your dream into a family goal. If, on the other hand, your dreams have been becoming realities without too much work on your part, maybe their dreams and goals have been shunted aside. While it might take effort on your part to elicit what they want, realize they do want it and help them get it. Maybe part of your problem is that you are focusing on yourself and not on your partner. Too much narcissicism will kill anyone’s joy in life eventually. Look at Hollywood for obvious examples.

I have one more comment on goals. Forget realistic. Sometimes the best goals are not realistic. They’re fantastical. And that makes the challenge of achieving them a high that few people experience.

Opposites Attract

I am sure there is a reason for this to happen, but I don’t know what it is. Some theorize that we are finding the mesh for our weaknesses and strengths. It is an interesting idea, although it predicates quite a lot on unconscious decisions which we may or may not be making.

My husband is an INTJ and I am an ENFP. According to the books I have read, that makes us the perfect match. Because we are in sync on the main way we use to come to decisions, intuition, the fact that the others are opposite is supposed to make us the yin/yang circle in flesh.

While there are many instances in which I think this is true, there are others where it is not. Opposite views of money make for uncomfortable bedfellows. Having used up all your words and company manners at work tends to make invitations to dinner few and far between.

Since we have had 16 years in which to work out the kinks, I think our relationship is stable and solid. I don’t think it is perfect. When I contemplate our marriage, I often feel that I am making all the concessions. As I learned early on, though, he is probably feeling the same way. We only notice the concessions we are making. We may not even know the other person is making concessions. I often don’t discuss with R what I would prefer or what I think because I think there is no point. Especially if I think he feels strongly on an issue, I will often just “give in” when he may not even realize I have a different opinion.

This is not where I had intended to go with this post. So I think I will stop musing and move on to the one I intended to write.

Super Friday Villains and Heroes

This week I am supposed to be discussing Assyrians or shepherding 3000 years ago.

However, I am going to do early Mesopotamia and Hammurabi instead. I think that will be an interesting study. I need to find out some weird facts about Hammurabi.

Right now the older class is going to be:

reading a one page intro to Mesopotamian culture

writing a “postcard” about it

creating a ziggurat out of legos

The younger class is going to be:

coloring Mesopotamian puppets

making a pop-up ziggurat card

creating ziggurats out of legos

I don’t really have much to say ready for the discussion however. I need to work on that.

Mesopotamia: The land now known as Iraq.

Sumerians (3000-2340 BC)


spoke a Semitic language related to Hebrew

first known users of the wheel

had a number system based on 60-

This system is where we get minutes (60 in an hour) and seconds (60 in a minute.)

discovered the moon months and a yearly cycle

cuneiform- writing system, adapted by other languages

Note: Hebrew and Arabic can be read by each other, even though they don’t understand the spoken language because they use a similar script.

wrote on clay tablets with a wedge shaped stylus- later similar to Roman writing utensil

built canals, dams, and dikes for irrigation

built ziggurats (?)

Sumerian rule at Ur ended around 1900 BC when Amorites and Elamites invaded.

Babylonians ( maybe 2000-1200 BC)

Babylon in decline in 12th century BC

Babylon, the city, sacked by Assyrians 689 BC

Regrouped 620s BC

Nebuchadnezzar conquered Israel in 586 BC

Persian armies of Cyrus defeated BAbylon (538 BC)

During the time that Babylon was an empire, however, had some wild stuff.

Hammurabi (sometime between 1800 and 1700 BC)

in 31 years united all of Mesopotamia

created a bureaucracy to help him rule

wrote neighboring kings and told them how much he liked them-

then attacked

constructed highways

created a postal service

improved canal system

created written laws

wanted people to know the laws, so he had them carved in stone

placed stone in public place

“Ignorance of the law is no excuse.”

in 1901 archaeologists found the stone with his laws carved into it

Update: We actually did Sargon the Great and the early period. I think it is interesting that Sargon was found floating down the river in a basket. Either women were dumping children in baskets a lot, doubtful, or Jochabed had heard of Sargon and thought it might save Moses.

This next week we will do Hammurabi. And probably work on Nebuchanezzar and Darius, even though that will take us out of time order.

BFL: Day 2, 2004

I haven’t done my aerobics yet today. That’s bad because it is much easier to do them in the morning than in the evening. However, I will do them because I have committed to it.

I have had three meals so far today.

9 am- hot chocolate (15 g protein) and toast = 125 cal.

11:40- chicken salad sandwich and salad= 480 cal.

2 pm- chicken soup (15 g protein) and nonfat yogurt with strawberries= 200

I am doing okay on the meals. As long as I break up the next two into smaller than 350 each, I should do fine.

Quick Weight Loss Center: Giving Over

I’ve been on this diet for over 100 days. I’ve lost 30 pounds. I’ve cheated a lot in the last week and still only regained one pound.

You know, I was planning on switching back to BFL. I actually did my aerobics yesterday and lifted weights this morning. But when I was writing the beginning of this entry, I decided to go back and look over the whole thing. And I lost three pounds in the last 2 weeks on QWLC’s stuff. Yeah, it’s not as fast as I wanted to lose it, but that’s still pretty good. Of course, I looked back farther and in the last 21 days on it, I lost 3.2 pounds. In 26 days I lost 4.2 pounds. That’s one pound every six days.

Of course, part of the reason I want to do BFL is that I gained muscle. Gaining muscle means that I lose inches and gain a bump in metabolism. It means that my clothes fit better (or worse) because I am dropping inches, even when my weight isn’t going down.

On BFL I lost 45 pounds of fat. Of course, I gained muscle, too. Ten pounds of it, so the end result was actually 5 pounds heavier than I am now. I gave it up, though, after several months of no loss and then suddenly gaining fat instead of muscle.

On QWLC I have lost 30 pounds. And I weigh 5 pounds less than I did on BFL after a year. But I’m not losing as fast as they said I would and it is getting tedious. Truthfully it was always tedious, but when you are losing weight quickly enough to notice, it isn’t too bad.

I am trying to figure out how long it took me to lose what, but I can’t find the sheets that we kept on the computer of the weight loss. That means I may have to get up and search through the handwritten notebooks. Aagh. That won’t be too fun.

One of the things you learn is that your body can adapt to most anything. But when I was finishing up BFL last time, I was exhausted and sleeping a lot and having memory problems again. Re-reading my web entries, though, I find that I was doing aerobics 10 times a week, plus five days a week of weights. I think that was too much. Especially since BFL recommends three of each a week. I think that I wasn’t losing as fast as I wanted and I did too much exercising.

But I had weighed in at 160 for four months in a row as well. That wasn’t what I wanted either.

Perhaps switching from QWLC, which has slowed considerably in the weight loss department, back to BFL, after more than a year away from it, will put my weight loss back on the fast track. Even if it doesn’t, if I can remember not to overtrain or undertrain, I think that I will be able to gain muscle and lose weight.

I lost 45 pounds of fat in 42 weeks. Or 40 pounds in 48 weeks. (It depends on which blog entry you read.) However, even if I lose less than one pound a week, if I also gain 10 pounds of muscle, like I did on BFL the first time, I should be able to get down to my goal weight. And hopefully I’ll be able to stay there, too.

Today I ate only four meals, not six. But I had a large dinner which really overfilled my tummy. Breakfast: eggs and toast. (260 cal.) Lunch: one burrito. (350) Snack: one protein bar. (150 cal) Supper: half a gigantic burrito. (500 cal)

I think that I need to break my food up and eat more often smaller meals. BFL says that’s essential. Something else I need to do is maintain the correct amount of exercise.

Another thing I need to do, which QWLC was very good about teaching me, was that I need to have fiber in my diet. I need to make sure I get at least one good salad in a day. I didn’t manage that today.

Re-reading my blog entries, I also found that if I have sugar it exacerbates my food allergies. Cheese does the same thing. That’s not good, because that is something I tend to eat a lot on BFL. I also was thinking that I should just give up soda pop. I don’t love it and it hates me. Of course, when you say you are giving something up, you then decide you want it all the time. I don’t think I want to go there. I think I just want to minimize the sugar and the cheese. I certainly don’t want yeast infections again. That’s something I haven’t had on QWLC.

I did 2.5, 5, 7.5, and 10 pound weights today for upper body. I did 10, 15, 20, and 25 for my back. I can feel the chest muscles in my chest, so I guess I got a good workout on those.

I will be blogging this carefully for a good computerized record of what I’m doing.

Homeschoolers and the Military

Joanne Jacobs links to an article which says a Dept of Defense study found found schoolers didn’t hack it in the military. I can’t find that study anywhere. The orig. article doesn’t cite it. It isn’t on the DOD’s website. There are no comments which might cite it.

I put quotes from the thing into Google, but it didn’t even find the blogs.

I was reading another article on recruiting lies and one recruiter told the recruit not to say he had been homeschooled. The recruit had a GED.

I wrote Home School Legal Defense Association about it to see what they had to say. I looked up military on their website and could find nothing about it. They do have an article “HS Continue to Excel in Military.” Anyway, it will be interesting to see what they respond.

An interesting site on military Did you know you have to have a waiver to get in the Marines if you have any kids? You can’t have more than one for the Navy. The AF requires an eligibility waiver if you have any. And, btw, dependent includes spouse; however, a spouse in jail doesn’t count.

Before granting any dependent waiver, the recruiting service will conduct a financial eligibility determination- if your credit isn’t good, you can’t get in. Also, for AF if you have 40% of your military pay in consumer debts, you can’t enroll.

Single parents are not allowed to enlist in the military, period.

The site I am reading implies that homeschoolers are Tier II. Nope, it says they are, except for the Air Force. Tier II candidates are limited to 1-10 percent of the total recruits and have to have a higher minimum score on the tests to qualify.

HSDLA says the pilot program which listed them as Tier 1 was set to expire last year at the end of this month, but that in August 03 it was extended to the end of this month this year.

I will update if I hear anything useful.

HSDLA wrote and said that people who took the GED were claiming to be homeschoolers, so that they could be Tier I and that these people were doing terribly in the military, which is why the military didn’t want them. But, HSDLA said, the military didn’t know who was really homeschooled and who wasn’t.

If the military can’t tell, how could HSDLA differentiate?

September 11th

Tomorrow it has been three years since we were backing out of the driveway to go see about getting our car worked on one more time. We were all together, four of us, and the radio was on. I thought it was odd that a voice that sounded like President Bush’s was speaking. Why would the president be speaking now?

My husband stopped the car as we pulled through the gates, gates which we never close, and I remember the iron bars and the rose bushes as we realized why the president was speaking.

Then we backed up some more and went to the mechanics. The news was on, of course. All channels were news. Planes hitting. Fire. Collapsing buildings. Dust and debris.

I sat in a mechanics’ waiting room in suburban Houston and wondered why it was happening. It wasn’t me or my family. I don’t know anyone in New York anymore. I’ve been in the WTC; I remember it vaguely- a visit to a church I later studied about in grad school.

It didn’t seem real. It seemed like it was a docudrama, maybe something like War of the Worlds that got out of hand. I knew it was real, but I wasn’t real. Or something.

I didn’t run and hide. I even made a major purchase that day, which was probably one of my braver choices in life, although I don’t think it was bravery, just sheer disbelief. I knew it was true but I couldn’t believe we would let it destroy us.

My son’s favorite commercial is the one which says, “The terrorists thought they could change America. They did.” And it shows rows of houses, first with empty front porches and lawns. Then with Old Glory flying from each.

I don’t know what difference we have made in our country since 9/11, except that we defined heroes in the old way once again. It’s not a word bandied about as much, used to describe musicians or ball players. Instead it is a word with a heritage, a history for each American. It is a word that has meaning again. I wish it had never had to have meaning again. I mourned the demise of the word before 9/11, but I would trade its death for the deaths of all those who died on 9/11 gratefully. But I know, as a reader, that history needs heroes and that, if they fail to exist, then the history of that place fails. I love my country. I would not want to lose it. And 9/11 reminded us that we, the people of the United States of America, while not forming a perfect union, do care and will act on our compassion in immediate ways, despite the cost to ourselves.

I am so grateful for the heroes of 9/11, the passengers who died in Pennsylvania, the firefighters and rescue workers who died in NYC, the people who wouldn’t leave their friends or came back for others. I am not only grateful for who they were and what they did, I am grateful for what they have given to us, those who live in the USA today. We know there are heroes. We know their faces and their names. And we know that they are not stories, but real, living, vibrant, loving people who gave their lives to save others.

Thank you.

Church and class

I was thinking yesterday that I don’t like our church. Well, the people are okay, but the whole church experience isn’t doing it. No one wants to go, but we go anyway because we think it is important to go. What kind of church is that?

I was reading on the net about a church in Dallas which is high tech. I’m not sure I would like the church, but at least they are thinking about their customer base.

The last two weeks at Super Friday have led me to be very disappointed in the children’s level of knowledge with basic Bible stories. If M weren’t doing better than most of the kids, I would be worried about him too. He says it is a product of churches that don’t read the Bible in class. When they watch films and have lectures, no one reads the book. Then they don’t know the book.

Even the children who did know a lot learned some things from class though. I gave them a broader understanding of time in history and how we date events. We talked about the Nile River and the different unique pharaoh’s from the New Kingdom.

The older kids made a pyramid. The younger kids colored Egyptian “puppets” and cut out stuff for a Nile river presentation.

Quick Weight Loss Center: Day 110

154.4 this morning after a three day weekend of cheating, okay a four day weekend of cheating. I had that Snickers on Friday, after all.

It is now Wed. I did not cheat yesterday. But I am going a little off diet today. And I don’t think I’ve had my water drunk today.

However, I am pleased with where my weight is and will work to get back on track more and more.

I have made significant progress, 31.4 pounds.

School clothes

An earlier post, last year (20 Sept. 2003), talked about trying to keep track of what I wore to teach in so I would not repeat my clothes too often.


T- black blouse, black and white slacks

R-brown pinstripes, turquoise top

S-navy pants, raspberry blouse

T-red and black pants, black blouse

R-brown pants with copper/bronze blouse

S- no class

T- black slacks, cranberry sleeveless blouse

That’s my fashion statement so far this year. I wore the same/similar black blouse the first and second Tuesdays, but nothing else was a repeat. This Thursday I should probably NOT wear brown, since I’ve done that twice as well. Maybe I’ll wear a skirt just to mix it up a bit.

Prayer talk: completed

I spoke today to Ladies’ Bible Class. I was supposed to be at the college teaching, but I got a substitute because I said in May that I would do this talk. I actually enjoyed it. I am not one of those people who does not enjoy public speaking. Give me the limelight and I will shine.

People laughed at the jokes and nodded and were clearly listening. They were very encouraging afterwards saying that I had been interesting and made some good points.

One lady is a bit worried about her topic, divorce, and said she wasn’t looking forward to going after my discussion. Of course, that is why I volunteered to be the first speaker for the year.

I am sorry I won’t get to be there this semester, but I realized I probably will be able to be there next semester. I am looking forward to that.

Prayer talk

I was asked to give my personal testimony, combined with Scripture references, in regard to prayer. I’m not sure that is what I ended up with in my presentation, but it’s for tomorrow, so I guess I am going with what I have, whether it is what they wanted or not.

I thought, last week, about changing it, when I got a phone call from someone other than the original person who scheduled my talk. However, I’ve prayed about this and I guess I’m just going to have to give it this way.

I begin with general things the Bible says about prayer and how often we have developed an expectation that we will get what we ask for. Then I talk about how we feel when those “promises” are broken.

I start from there with people in the Bible to whom God said no. Paul, Jesus, David. They didn’t get what they asked for. I don’t think any of us would accuse them of not having faith or of praying wrongly, but I’ve had people say I don’t have faith or that my mother in law isn’t forgiven, because her prayers weren’t answered.

Then I talk about God changing his mind. I specifically reference Hezekiah and Moses in the Bible and my grandfather and brother in my life.

From that short reference, I describe in more detail my brother’s life threatening illness and all the miracles God brought into play to save him. Then I talk about how that ought to have made me incredibly strong in my faith, but it hasn’t. I discuss Gideon and his asking God for confirmation, even though God has already given it to him. I also talk about Elijah wanting to give up- after numerous miracles have kept him alive.

Then I talk about a friend, K-, whose life has been so traumatic that she no longer has any expectation that God is going to answer her prayers. It’s easier to talk about someone else in crisis than to admit to crisis yourself.

Following that page long description, I discuss pain in my life and how I think God used it to get me to pray, even though the prayers were often complaints.

After that I talk about praying through Europe, grad school, getting married, obsessing about debt, Then I say that I was asked to discuss where I still have problems. Don’t you want to get up in front of a bunch of people you don’t know and say that stuff? Me neither. But I do. And I say that I should know better and tell one of my other favorite stories about prayer, about my husband praying for my sister. Then I am done.

Hopefully this will be what they want or will speak to them or whatever.

I won’t be going back because I have to work during that timeslot, but I thought I was going to get to go to the Bible study class.

Time perspective

A friend from four years ago came to visit. I noticed that I did not have a lot to say to her, other than showing her the cool things I have purchased recently. I had a lot of fun on the outings to do that, so… However, she is definitely not of the acquisitive nature; it didn’t really interest her.

Also she asked about my book and took the novel home with her to read. She is a voracious reader, but she thought that what I laughed at was a bit odd. I talked to my husband about it later and I think it was the aspect of the story being unexpected that I was laughing about. Since unexpectedness is a major component in humor, perhaps I was not laughing oddly after all. It did sound strange when I was talking about it though, that I will admit.

I haven’t read the book in months and wonder what I would think of it now.

She would be more likely to talk about new insights God has given her, but I don’t think he has given me any recently.

I don’t think the visit was uncomfortable, but I am less than pleased with the memories of it.

Poetry reading

I am in such an isolated place recently, that I don’t know many poetry readers. I think I am the only one. It was a pleasure to read a Sept. 1 post at this site asking if people read poetry for fun. There are fifty comments. All saying yes.

I like Edgar Guest, not much for metaphor but I like his thoughts.

Emily Dickinson, as long as I don’t think of her life.

Kid’s poetry. I have a bunch from my students from last year.

My own poetry. Since I wrote it, it has a lot of meaning for me, even when it isn’t very good.

My son’s poetry. It’s always good.

Edgar Allen Poe. Shakespeare. Donne. Browning. I often re-read the core Am/Brit people, but only a work or two at a time. Longfellow. I like Longfellow.

Notes on a Bible Hero: Joseph

Joseph saw the world as his oyster.

Favored son. Had a dream everyone would be under him. Any reason to tell this? No. Except he was proud. So he told.

He got thrown in a pit, sold as a slave, propositioned by the mistress. What was his response? “No. It would be wrong.” “I don’t want to mess up your relationship with your husband.” Uh-uh. He said, “I have been given authority in this house.” In other words, in pride, Joseph said, I am too good to do this. I am more important than you are. I’m not saying she was right to lie, but didn’t he deserve to get squashed for that? Some slave, even a trusted one, telling the master’s wife that he was more important than she was. Proved him wrong.

When his fellow prisoners had dreams and didn’t understand them, he said, “Don’t dreams belong to God?” Good question. But his next statement is, “Tell me your dreams.” Is that the same guy making himself equal with God? Maybe the cupbearer forgot Joseph because God wanted him to. Maybe Joseph wasn’t quite where God needed him to be.

Two years later Pharoah asks Joseph to interpret his dreams. Joseph says, “I cannot do it.” Now that might be a disclaimer; after all, he doesn’t want to disappoint a king. But he finishes up with, “However, God will tell you what you want to know.” It’s not Joseph now. It’s God.

Pride. We are more important than God. Or is God more important than we think he is?

orig. written 10/3/94

Heroes and Villains, Week One

I spent a good bit of time in my class today asking questions about Joseph son of Jacob Israel from the Bible today. I gave out a lot of candy for correct answers. I had two students who broke the rules and ate more than one piece while in class.

I found out that more of the younger kids (9-11) knew the Bible story than the older kids (12-14). I had twice as many younger kids (15) and I’d say three quarters of them answered questions. In the older group (8), only two of the students knew most of the answers.

The students were appalled that I asked math questions. If a male slave in ancient Egypt cost 7 deben and a deben is 90 g of silver, how many grams of silver did a male slave cost? If a camel can travel 20 miles a day, heavily weighted, how many days would it take to get the 400 miles from point A to point B?

They thought the iron hook through the left nostril to pull out the brain for mummification was either gross or blase. Half of them knew it beforehand. (What are we teaching our children in homeschools?)

I did have too much stuff to do. I’m going to have to work on that next week.

I generally have more things than I can get to because I am one of those people who absolutely deplore running out of things to do. I’d much rather run out of time and have to save something really cool, or skip something semi-cool.

Relationships and Expectations

I was thinking about the story of creation from the first and second chapters of Genesis last night. God created Adam. Then he left him alone. He gave Adam a world which was full, creative, growing, and said, “All this is yours.” Then, I think, God waited. Adam looked at the world he had been given and saw, as God had before him, that it was good. But Adam noticed something. Every part of creation had a companion part, except him. And Adam was lonely. Adam told God he was lonely. I think God knew that Adam would be lonely, but that he waited until Adam acknowledged a need before he provided a remedy.

God created a woman to be a help meet to Adam. Many people have commented on what this means, exactly, but I think that maybe we can see part of what God created in the nature of women in this description. Women are very concerned with relationships, with attachments, with friends and friendships, with nurturing and caring for others. I think this may be what God meant when he created Eve to be a help meet to Adam. Adam did not have any connection to the rest of the world, except in a hierarchical sense of being over or under it, until Eve came into his life. Together they established the first human relationship in history.

I think that the ability to establish and maintain relationships may be a gift from God integrated into the very nature of women. If that is true, then your concern for your friends and your family has been given to you specially, by God, in a way that can be very beneficial to those around you– every good and perfect gift comes from God.

There is also, I believe, a lesson to be learned in the story of Hannah and Samuel. Hannah lived in an age when women married young and their worth was measured by the outside world in the number of children that they bore for their husbands. Hannah was married, but she had no children. The outside world scorned her. Her husband’s second wife treated her poorly. But her husband, a man raised with the expectation that a good wife bears many children, loved her and tried to protect her from ridicule and shame. She was a woman greatly blessed to have a husband who could and would ignore the dictates of society and see her as an individual.

This was not enough for Hannah, however. She wanted a child. She wanted a child badly enough to risk the scorn of the priest who, because she prayed long and hard, thought that she was drunk. (I guess that tells us that most of the women of her day did not spend much time in public places praying.) Here again, although this time voluntarily, she acted outside the expectations of her society. I do not think that she acted outside the expectations of God, though. He heard her prayers and he responded with a promise to give her a child.

Sometimes what is right and true is not what the world around us nor even the religious leaders of our day think and believe. Sometimes we humans are abused by other humans for things we cannot help. Sometimes we are scorned for an appearance of evil or even just their perception of evil. There are two things which I see in the story of Hannah as sustaining; one which is sure. Sometimes God gives us in our lives people who will stand by us, put aside prejudices and learned responses, and love us despite what the world says or thinks. And always God will be there: loving us, listening to us, and responding to us with mercy and compassion.

orig. written 10/3/94