Sunday, January 22, 2017

Questioning the Establishment

     I wrote a post that I won't publish. (Sigh.) In the back of my mind I knew I wouldn't publish it even as I typed the words. I had an opinion about the weekend's marches and protests and politics in general, but I hate confrontation and I hate to offend. However, I will share this: The protests and marches aroused the most unexpected reaction in myself. I felt grief. The more I watched and the more I heard, the sadder I felt for everyone. I would have preferred to have felt annoyed or angry. Those emotions are easier for me to quench. But no, it was grief. To examplify (I just made that word up), it was the grief that a parent feels when their children behave foolishly and the parent can only shake their head and wonder and feel sad. Everyone is rightfully entitled to their opinion and I love that our country embraces this freedom. I only wish it could be demonstrated without such hate and ugliness.

     I had to research what the women were marching about because their message was a little convoluted and covered multiple topics. Once I located the Women's March in Washington website and read their agenda, I understood it better and my grief was substantiated. Much of the women's message is based on false or misinformation. Other groups of women were marching in opposition of President Trump. We must be careful to learn the facts and not believe everything the media, special interest groups, or angry people are shouting. I may agree that President Trump leaves a lot to be desired in personal comportment, however that doesn't cause me to back an opposing group simply because it's anti- Trump. I pray that I've taught my daughters to think for themselves and not to ever become a puppet for special interest groups, or Hollywood, or haters in general. There is so much background and agenda within these groups but, if you boil it down to its core, it's all about, "I want what I want." It is about our mortal flesh during our short existence on earth, idolizing ourselves.

     Ironically, given my lifestyle today, I grew up in the 1960's mimicking my older sister who protested the Vietnam War and rallied in favor of everything from feminism to legalizing marijuana. Oh, the arguments she and my dad had around the dinner table! I wanted to imitate her and it felt radical to oppose "the man" and to celebrate free love and peace. I never fully understood what it was we were opposing. I just wanted to belong and to give voice to my feelings. I was a child and I reasoned like a child. At that age, we were sure that we knew more than our parents. Most likely they sadly shook their heads at our conduct. I never dreamed my life's learning would lead me to embrace Christianity or that the "establishment", which is as shape shifting as a Harry Potter character, would be that which I still oppose, albeit in a different manner. Here is a quote from Jack Shafer on Politico,

"If you’re of a certain age, the invocation of the Establishment gives off the scent of the 1960s, when it was believed to be the invisible but ever-present forces of conformity and societal control. Depending on who you talked to, the Establishment was the force behind the war in Vietnam, the muscle that demanded the enforcement of the drug laws, the power behind racism, the reason college dorms were segregated into male and female. It was—and remains—the placeholder for the nameless but omnipotent “other side” of any power relationship. In short, the Establishment was your parents."

     So, the funny thing is, I now see our pre-Trump country as the establishment. I see the stifling governmental controls on manufacturing and society (a 1.5 cents per ounce tax on soft drinks in Pennsylvania?!) as the establishment. I see Hollywood and all the fans who mimic it as the establishment. To me, these are the societal norms and to buck them is to be in opposition. You see how this reasoning has the previous anti-establishment now serving as the establishment? It's crazy! The bottom is up and the up is down. I question the current establishment but, with an entirely different perspective than I had as a child. Do our laws line up with God's Word which spoke the universe into creation? Are they what's best for the individual and for the society in general? Do we want the government paying for everything and therefore controlling our freedom? Our laws should not dictate what we eat or drink, who we love, or what we do in our bedrooms. I believe that the separation of church and state is a good thing for a country and in matters of faith, we must each follow our own walk. In my personal life there is no separation of God from any given portion. God is in my politics, he is in my thought life, he is in me as an employee, a wife, and a mother. So, to ponder anything is to include God and His Word and to hold all these things to that standard of perfect measure.

     Answers to life's questions will often only lead to more questions. But one thing we can know for certain, God is sovereign. Most importantly, life and death matters are not for man to decide. They are way bigger than man's ability to reason. The more we try to understand this puzzling life and the baffling ways of man in respect to God's character and will, the closer it draws us to Him. If we sincerely desire the truth and we seek the truth with all our hearts, it will be revealed to us in astounding ways. Peace and joy will overcome anger and anxiety, and sense will be made of the nonsensical. However, be forewarned, we will often find ourselves in a position of having to choose whom we will please, God or man? God or myself? God or...? Think about this as you watch videos of the marches on Saturday and the riots last Friday. In whom has man put his faith and trust?

      I saw this on a friend's facebook timeline:

"No one in the world can change truth. What we can do and and should do is to seek truth and to serve it when we have found it. The real conflict is the inner conflict. Beyond armies of occupation and the hetacombs of extermination camps, there are two irreconcilable enemies in the depth of every soul: good and evil, sin and love. And what use are the victories on the battlefield if we are ourselves are defeated in our innermost personal selves?" St. Maximilian Kolbe. Executed: Auschwitz 1941

     I will leave off here with a beautiful new song, "There Is A Cloud".


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

January Thaw

     We have had a string of rainy days and milder temperatures that make it feel and smell like it's spring time in March. The mountains and sky were so pretty when I walked into school that I had to stop and pull out my phone to take a photograph. Moms and dads with students walked swiftly past to get inside before the bell rang, but I was compelled to stop and notice these clouds and sun. As I stood there, missing the bell and the Pledge of Allegiance, I realized that I haven't changed much since I was a student- not quite conforming to the standard and making it in before the bell.

     It was still mild when I got home from work, so I took Henri for a nice little round about. The wind picked up, making it feel even more like March. Later, I went into town to my friend Eleanor's house and met up with some other ladies to work on our rugs. We sat on Eleanor's front porch in sweaters, enjoying the bit of warm sunshine and soaking in some Vitamin D.
     By days' end, I had made three trips up and down our winding road. The final trip was a drive down to the firehouse at 5:30 where a yoga class has been ongoing for several years. How did I not know about this?! I have wanted to try yoga for a long time and here we have a convenient, low commitment opportunity right under my nose. The attendees were all my age or older, which made me feel feel very comfortable in my inability and unbalance. We had essential oils rubbed on our wrists, we stretched and worked with light weights, and we did an exercise for fending off ADD and dementia. It was a great, one hour session and I will definitely return. Can you tell that I am less demented already? : )

Monday, January 16, 2017

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Hooking in the New Year

This morning's view was peaceful and soothing. A snowstorm was the perfect excuse to stay put and be creative. Steve kept the wood stove burning and the paths cleared. I made a pot of soup and worked on my rug. I'm so pleased that Virginia gives us a bit of winter each year. It's just the right amount for my liking and I embrace days like this in which we can enjoy our favorite wintry activities and view these beautiful landscapes. The weather forecast has us at sixty-three degrees by Friday and that's the beauty of living in the mountains of Virginia! * The window screen pattern in this photo mimics the weave of the linen backing of my rug.

I hooked a table runner for Claire's Christmas gift. My biggest challenge at this beginner stage of hooking is finding wool in the colors I envision for a particular project. Wool is expensive and it takes a long time to build up a stash. My hooking friends have been generous and have given me wool from their stashes. Otherwise, I have ordered some specific pieces online and found other pieces via garments in thrift stores. For me, this craft is all about the wool and I search for it and collect it like a pack rat.

Steve built this cubby for me which was funded by my sister as a lovely Christmas gift. It's the perfect storage for the wool I've begun to amass. The baskets hold leftover strips and smaller pieces. Veteran hookers have walls of cubbies like this, jam-packed with wool in various shades of every color. (In my dreams!) It's like having a paint palette or a sixty-four count box of crayons at your fingertips. : )

Sunday, January 1, 2017

'appy New Year!

     This is what happens when you give a little guy permission to help himself to the cookie plate. I'm not sure I understand it, but I'm sure he had a very good reason. I love the antics of children and the way it forces me to see the world from a child's perspective. Another example of this was when I handed all three grandchildren dog biscuits to give Henri. As they stood in the kitchen waiting their turn to hand Henri a biscuit, the two-year-old started eating his dog biscuit. When I told him not to eat Henri's dog biscuit he asked, "Why?" Well.. he rendered me speechless. I had no reason why. His mother and I looked at each other and laughed. Then I told him, "I don't know why. Go ahead and eat it I guess." Anyway, our initial alarm was enough to make him stop eating it and he handed it over to Henri.
     Our holiday season stretched out over two weeks with family coming and going and coming and going. It was wonderful in every way, except for missing Chelsea and her family who couldn't travel this year. Overall, everyone stayed healthy and safe and I couldn't ask for more than this. I took plenty of typical family photos which I will not embarrass everyone by publishing.
     Looking back, 2016 was the year my mom passed away and the year in which we did the most difficult things we have ever been called to do. I don't wish time away, it is too precious for such thinking, but I am glad that time has buffered some of the pain and that over time we can bring positive memories to the forefront and let the painful memories slip deeper into the past.
     Another huge change in 2016 was Steve's career move. After twenty-six years in the cement industry he made a move into a completely different industry. It involves a much, much longer commute but, his weekends have been free and his stress level is greatly reduced. It is a treat for me to now have him home on the weekends and to see him enjoy some of his hobbies a little more.             
     We have much to look forward to in the coming year. Of course, we have expectations. However, we cannot know for sure what is to come and part of that is the excitement of looking ahead. In the meantime, we go about our daily routines and seek paths for love, laughter, and learning. My three L's and my newly made up theme for the new year!

We had a little bit of snow. I wish I could have captured the look on the children's faces when they woke up and saw snow that morning.

Our niece's dog, Milo sits with Audrey and Jared. He has quite the personality!
It was the only hat we could find at a moment's notice for Jack to wear. He didn't mind the hat at all. The face he's making is because two of us were taking their picture and he didn't know which of us to look at, so he held his head still, but scanned his eyes back and forth between photographers.