Saturday, July 28, 2007

God's Discipline & Blessings

It used to be commonplace knowledge in a Christian society that according to God - people would reap what they sowed. This didn't mean good people wouldn't have trials, or often live poor - but those who sought to live Godly lives had favor with Him. You might *look* poor but when you needed anything, He was faithful to provide. If you sought to be merciful, you would obtain mercy - especially with God in relation to your own failings. If you humbled yourself before God, Christ would lift you with Him. If you sought justice for others, sooner or later the injustices in your life would be offset or otherwise dealt with. If you were generous to others, generous deals would appear for you. If you left vengeance to God when you were injured, He would be faithful to defend you.

I still live by these ideas, and so do other serious believers, but it is getting obvious that a great many churched people do not.

Many are not concerned that they will reap what they sow in the lives around them - except in the matter of tithes, fundraisers for the sick etc. Its good that people are learning that sowing blessings in the lives of others and in ministries brings blessings, but you can earn financial grace with your generosity and still be cursed for how you use your tongue.


Everything we do has consequences here and eternally. Most Christians don't seem to understand that.

As near as I can tell, its mostly ignorance of what the Bible actually says.

Catholics are often guilty for thinking that one session in the confessional will remove the consequences of their sins, but an unworthy confession without real repentance cannot even receive absolution.

Protestants are bad for figuring that if they live 'mostly' right - they don't have to worry about being humble - or offending other believers - or even worry too hard about sanctity issues. As near as I can tell they lean too hard on the assurances of salvation continuing toward those who simply believe (There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus etc) - and then apply it to the daily bread of their lives. Basically, they think that singing and tithing enough- or keeping an extra neat house - will cover everything & allow them to keep getting uninterrupted blessings from God.

Now - serious repentance will restore your walk with God - and keep your salvation straight -but relief from the consequences are something we should be prepared to beg for as an extra grace. That isn't guaranteed at all.

It is true that Christ will overlook most of your smaller failings IF you abide in Him. But abiding means more than most acknowledge! Abiding means walking after Jesus, trying very hard to live as He asked you to do, being willing to abandon your sinful desires and being continually repentant of your failings. It means loving the brotherhood as well as God. It means preferring one another in love - that would include showing full respect even to those who hold a social position way below your own. It means refraining from slander and spiteful witticisms. Also it means the having the guts to say what you were given to say by the Holy Spirit, even if you know this will mean the end of favor with a well-placed personage. Abiding brings a desire for justice, a love for others, a thirst to be ever more like Christ Himself. Abiding means God's will and God's love always comes first in your life. This is how Christ lived on Earth - and how He still lives within us.

Comparatively few believers seek to abide in Christ daily. Regular spells of repentance is as good as most get. While that *will* cover you through the door - it *won't* preserve you from God's purifying fire here on Earth. (Woe to you if He doesn't believe you are worth that trouble! The undisciplined are not even His children.)

and that discipline can be very sore indeed.

Christ grants grace because He knows what you can do and how hard you are trying. He also knows when you AREN'T trying - and will deal with you accordingly - no matter how good you look to the pastor 's wife, your priest or anybody else.

To whom much is given, much is required.

Luke 12:47 And that servant who knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.
48 But he that knew not, and committed things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For to whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required: and to whom men have committed much, from him they will ask the more.

People don't dwell much on the disasters of King David's reign - but we'd do well to learn from those too. He was a serious believer - but when he blew it - he blew it big time! And while God restored him to grace and position again and again, many of the trials David faced later were judgments on him - and in the x 7 fashion promised to God's people. David took one man's wife in secret - later a bunch of his partners were taken and used in public. David took a poll to determine his taxation & warfare capabilities - and God sent a plague in response for leaning on his 'horses and chariots.' Why? Because David knew better. This the same man who beat a giant armed only with his faith in God, a slingshot and a rock. He knew his God - so he was held to higher standard. Did David keep his faith and eventual salvation? Of course! But OUCH some of those spankings had to hurt!

But we're under a more generous covenant, right? Yes, in that we have each of us direct access to the Holy Spirit and the intercessory work of Christ - but we're not entirely off the hook. Consider what examples of God's discipline of believers exist in the New Testament: the couple that lied about the price of the field they promised to donate were struck down dead. Paul deals with sin in the church again and again - and even describes some of his own sufferings after his salvation as merited by his previous treatment of believers. I also believe he was covered for those by Christ's blood, but he knew that his own lack of mercy had not brought him extra grace in what was going to be a tough walk anyway. Check what he says here about the correction God sent to the erring Corinthians:
17 Now in this that I declare to you, I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse.
18 For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there are divisions among you; and I partly believe it.
19 For there must be also heresies among you, that they who are approved may be made manifest among you.
20 When therefore ye come together in one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper.
21 For in eating every one taketh before another his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken.
22 What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.
23 For I have received from the Lord, that which also I delivered to you, That the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread:
24 And when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.
25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as often as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he shall come.
27 Wherefore, whoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh condemnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.
30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.
31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.

Note that the correction for these believers included illness and death - because they did not regard the sanctity of the Eucharist and did not feed or regard with respect some of the poor folks in the congregation. Please not that these were early Christians - people under OUR covenant who were made sick or even brought to death early because they sinned against God and other believers. The loss was more than crowns they never saw in glory. There was a spanking in the here and now!

I hope this gets through and helps somebody - because there's no way any sane believer can study these verses and believe that basic salvation faith will cover unbridled carnal behavior - especially toward God's other children!

Discipline for grown believers can be a very serious business - and for the same reason it was for King David. We ought to know better.

James 2:13 For he shall have judgment without mercy that hath shown no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.
or again
1 Peter 2:11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;
12 Having your manner of life honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evil-doers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.
13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether to the king, as supreme;
14 Or to governors, as to them that are sent by him for the punishment of evil-doers, and for the praise of them that do well.
15 For so is the will of God, that with well-doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:
16 As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.
17 Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.

Usually you won't know which trials your fellow believers earned and which are Job-like trials /persecutions that will purify them even more with Christ but that they hadn't particularly earned. (The exceptions are when God directly sends someone to speak to a believer or ministry who is proving deaf to Him to their own hurt.) Trying to discern it is a temptation to judge them - which would only put another blot on YOUR robe. Yes, Christ's blood washes those sins away - but you must abide in Him - repenting of such temptations quickly - to keep them clean here.

Believers especially should be wary of sneering - for fear of becoming the subject of prideful taunts in the near future. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom for everyone!

I think everyone knows the kind of trials that *can* be corrections (like losing a job, major illness, effects from natural disasters, company problems, loss of position or health) - or not. Anytime troubles do start real believers tend to start with an internal examination of their walk before God. If they don't see anything they regard as 'that bad' then they often assume its all the work of the enemy. But its a better idea to seriously pursue God on the matter. He will answer you if you do. Either you will suddenly remember an issue or a way you've been treating somebody that you've excused to yourself (but He hasn't) or - if you are living as right as you can - you will be comforted.

Discipline begins in the house of God.

We need to remember this with fear and trembling for how we treat one another. What we do to each other we do unto Christ - and this is a very serious matter when we sin!

1 Peter 4:1 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;
2 That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.
3 For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revelings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:
4 In which they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:
5 Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the living and the dead.
6 For, for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.
7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch to prayer.
8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity will cover a multitude of sins.
9 Use hospitality one to another without grudging.
10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
11 If any man speaketh let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man ministereth let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ; to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you:
13 But rejoice, seeing ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
14 If ye are reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you. On their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.
15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evil-doer, or as a busy-body in other men's matters.
16 Yet if any man suffereth as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.
17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first beginneth at us, what will be the end of them that obey not the gospel of God?
18 And if the righteous is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?
19 Wherefore, let them that suffer according to the will of God, commit the keeping of their souls to him in well-doing, as to a faithful Creator.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Faithful Servant

(devotional thought from Genesis 24)

Abraham's servant.

We don't know his name.

All we really know about him is his loyalty to Abraham. He prayed to God to lead him to the right wife for Isaac. he may have been the guy who would have inherited had Abraham never had those sons. If so, he took it well.

In a way, I have been surprised more wasn't been said about this loyal, selfless person on whom the whole lineage of Abraham's promise once depended.

May we all serve Christ and our neighbors as well as he did.

Just a thought for the day.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Distractions ~

We've had several distractions of late - mostly good. 'Tis the season to do the school filing & make sure everything is in order with memberships, textbooks etc. I have received a birthday check from my in-laws and spent it (plus a little from my hubby) on something fun for the family for a change. (Some years this has gone to schoolbooks, shoes, small AC units, or on emergency funds for getting our then small son out of the way of hurricanes back when he needed electricity for his nebulizer)

We now have a Wii! Yay!

We didn't get any extra games yet, but it comes with Wii sports so we've been taking turns with that. This has also allowed us to move the Gamecube upstairs & just in time too - its been good to be able to play WindWaker & Twilight Princess (GC version) from bed while recovering from a summer cold we picked up after the weekend at the Renaissance fair.

The fair was wonderful fun. We all have great memories and souvenirs to keep. William did great with his first harp lesson. Becka got herself a Celtic-decorated belt pouch, 'luna sticks' (a kind of a juggling toy), & sword hanger. William got himself a small shield (a targ?) Mom got herself a very nice purple leather purse & an Irish Rosary. I got an embroidered shirt, organic soaps, & some herbs I've never tried before. Tom settled for a tasty drink on a hot day & a cd of the group that serenaded us both days - tempered swords being a bit much for the budget. lol

So - if we had to take a cold too - at least it wasn't all we ended up with.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Renaissance Men & Ladies

Well, some were late medieval instead - but you get the idea ;)

We heard they were coming to our region, so we dropped by. :-)
The old colonial buildings made a better backdrop for them than I expected. Nice when things work out!

Normally, this would have been the biggest news of the day, but it isn't. My father looked us up and came by! I haven't seen him in like - 30yrs! Still absorbing the surprise. May God grant happy things come of it!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Its been a fairly good day...

Considering its Friday the 13th.

The title link goes to the best discussion I can find on why people pay so much attention to the Fridays that fall on some month's 13th. Most people don't seem to be acting too weird -well, no weirder than usual.

They don't seem as worried about it as sometimes. Maybe its because 7/7/07 was only a week ago? I'm not into numerology. I don't ever worry about Friday the 13th any year, seeing as I believe God owns every day - but I could see where some might feel the one date might cancel out the effect of the other. My only interest has been a general curiosity about how the current superstitions originated.

My own pet theory, amended by the article forementioned, was that the Templar deaths had left some guilty consciences - and when the Black Death hit so hard just a few decades later - it would have been the next big thing to happen in many towns. It certainly would have left a lasting impression!

Well, at least we haven't had too much excitement here to memorialize the occasion. We read some articles & watched yet another show about the newest Harry Potter film - which inspired more conversations about said film & the upcoming book. lol We thought Order of the Phoenix was extremely well done!

Around the happy chatter, we played with the new kittens, and dodged them to get a few chores done :))

Tom took me out for a nice Mexican dinner this evening because I have my birthday this month. I may share a few pics from my birthday soon but I've been more focused on other matters - like the most recent trip to the hospital. Tom has been asked to have a few more tests done to make sure he is still in reasonably good shape generally before they set a date for the surgery - but they agree that he has healed enough otherwise.

Here are some pictures of my birthday 'linking' cake, our fireworks at home from the 4th, the new kittens, Mom at the new table etc. Just an assortment to give a sense of our summer thus far. Enjoy:)

Monday, July 09, 2007

Sicko review & a bit of Am/English history

Michael Moore has regained my respect in some measure - though he's still a little too biased to give the whole picture. If you haven't seen his latest film, 'Sicko,' and you live in America, you probably should. I say 'probably' because some people can't take another disheartening blow toward the charming faith that America is still leads the world in medical care/expertise (or much else).

I don't know that I agree with Moore's premise that it would be better to live under entirely government run system like Canada, France, and England have. I have heard, read and seen entirely too many difficult stories from those who cope with that system, but certainly something needs to be done! 60,000 dollars to reattach one finger? Who set rates like that???

Just the same, I am very concerned that if we blindly adopt socialized care, it will be the very companies who are giving us such a problem now who would end up in charge of it. This - and the great potential for losing even more of our personal freedoms in the process - are the main concerns I have about universal government-run health care. Moore is correct, we are a largely a socialist nation now - without it! Why not follow England's system then?

I wanted to applaud the Englishman who pointed out how our current system tends to start us and keep us in debt and afraid of making waves. YES! Exactly! I only wished he'd remembered that their lovely system was initially paid for by a huge at-cost loan (interest was set to only 3/4% per year, to keep pace with inflation) they extracted from the US -even as we were finishing fighting the Japanese military machine by ourselves & beginning to deal with the burden of a 'cold war' with Russia.

Thats right, your parent's & grandparent's tax dollars bought relief for millions of Englishfolk: every man, woman, and child who survived the war benefited - meantime, in our own country, we offered free medical care only to active enlisted men and their immediate families. I don't begrudge England the help at that time, but I was a bit bugged to hear - from the BBC documentary that announced the end of that loan - that they had felt we owed it to a gift - because they fought Germany first. They admitted in the documentary that the promise of a lifetime of security and provision had been how the government that replaced Churchill's band had got in - and also that they had nothing to back it up with at the time. Nevertheless, the new Labor party decided to lean on the US to keep their promises for them - free of charge, of course. Even finally got Churchill to speak on their behalf by telling him England would fall if they didn't get it. Given the situation at that point, and the fact that those we trusted had been ousted by the left-leaning government, Truman's reaction made good sense. We did regard England as a good friend. We wanted to help, but even the at-cost loan Truman chose to give was difficult to manage, because our economy had been affected too.

People here were still living kinda close to the bone after decades of depression followed by world war. Our factories had boomed during it - but most of the payments were made by our government - meaning these were also debts of a sort. Many factories were still transitioning back to civilian economy, but it wasn't certain we would have customers for what we could make in a world devastated by war. Another great depression was distinctly possible, and so was a war with Stalin - who was at least as crazy as Hitler, and making noises about fulminating trouble all over the world. (He did too.) Our economy was not so stable then as England wanted to tell itself. The Marshall plan hurt a bit too - and on top of that many citizens were already mailing whatever goodwill bundles of food and supplies they could spare - to England especially. I have a book of C.S. Lewis' letters from that period. He describes the affectionate outpouring of these individual efforts to supply the needs of himself, Tolkien & many others as overwhelming in their generosity. Were we willing to do all we reasonably could to help our friends in England? Absolutely!

England should have known all this as well as we did. These things weren't secrets by any means. There was a very strange mindset in that new govt. There's a strange old note that echoes through the whole thing. Why did England feel that after we had supported their efforts from the beginning (lend/lease, volunteer airmen etc), and stepped in to help when it was plain world domination was a danger, did they feel that we were additionally obligated to fix all their problems at our own cost? We could not have simultaneously given the same gift to our own citizens. They knew that. Why did they think we owed them more than we could give ourselves? I think history has the answer****

No, I suspect this comfortable assessment of how England does it better is partly the effect of a lifetime in an entitlement system in a former colonial power. If so, its too bad I can't tell that rather erudite gentleman from Moore's documentary that he has also been snowed a bit by his system. Does he realize that he is being 'nannied' by his state from birth to death - & hardly able to get any venture going because of the burden of paying for it? There have been freedom issues in his country too. People are watched wherever they go - and officially they are subjects of the government - not just citizens. English folk still do protest when they feel the need, but mostly for pay issues & unpopular foreign involvements. (I understand why they didn't appreciate our govt asking theirs to go to Iraq. Its hard to see why anyone would expect them to feel any obligation.) I would like to ask him how well their protests work when its government policy to change their currency, or the right to keep selling herbs? I regularly read reports of government policies that forbid women to wear religious headdresses, or impinge on the rights of small churches to meet or otherwise legally live according to their conscience - mostly in mainland Europe, but still...

Moore reports on the wonderful health care France & Germany have. They'll even do the laundry of a new Mom! Yes, and tell her how to raise him/her and tell her what new forms she has to fill out and when he/she is expected to turn up in daycare. Sounds great, unless you don't want your child in daycare from toddlerhood on, or government employees feeling free to turn up on your doorstop with 'friendly' reasons for going through even your clothes and reporting any departures from their societal expectations - like - oh, I don't know, maybe teaching your child your family's faith through songs, toys and books?

Yep, they've got a real 'bread & circuses' thing going on in France & Germany too. Sure they protest more than we do, but mostly at foreign involvements (which is just about officially sanctioned) & any changes that affect their entitlements. Its not easy to slap at the hand that feeds you.

Europeans regard their healthcare as one of the perks that make their own jumps through the bureaucratic webs feel worthwhile. As Arthur Dent put it, Brits know how to queue to get things done.

As people have become aware of the reduced benefits in our welfare system, they have begun to protest the strings that have not disappeared commensurately. Forgive us for looking askance at more stringed-up packages from Uncle Sam! Big government reforms have been - in practice- often far less and worse than promised. Moore points this out in the 'golden ticket' segment - but doesn't seem to connect that these are the same sorts of people who would craft a universal healthcare policy right now - and no, I don't believe their Democratic counterparts have proved they would do better.

I can't help but wonder if removing the increasing legal obligation to use the current overpriced system wouldn't help a bit? If we could all use midwives, order our meds from anywhere, and be totally responsible only to ourselves & God for our own care - wouldn't that injure the incentive the system has to treat us like it does? Yes, I know it sounds like a return to the dark ages. I am aware that we cannot do our own surgeries or MRI scans or hope to improve on the work of specialists who have trained for years to battle a particular disease. But shouldn't it be more our own choice whether we want to go into that system or not? As it is, you can be declared criminally negligent for refusing & a deadbeat for going!

Not long a ago a young man who had been declared incurable by the local hospitals system had to go to court for the right to end the painful treatments that were not expected to help him, and for which his parents were still obligated to pay a fortune. The fact that they had to fight for any measure of freedom even when the doctor's diagnosis was completely negative said volumes about the state of things. I don't see how that could have been worse under a system like NHS. They might still have had the same fight to die with some measure of dignity and personal choice - but at least they wouldn't have been forced to pay for procedures to which they strenuously objected - as though it were a fur coat or something!

I think if we are going to suffer to keep our freedom - I'd like all my freedom back, please.

The history of English/American relations as I know it

Dorothy tells me that England doesn't teach much about our revolution or the state our colonies were in just prior to it - so I am going to touch base on a few points here so any English readers will understand, I hope, that I like them just fine. Actually, I like them very much - I just understand that many have grown up with a sort of resentment of the US that may not be founded in anything they would choose to espouse if they had been taught where it came from,

Most Englishmen do not understand how badly we had to be treated before we finally broke free. Most Americans don't remember how exploitative our relationship with Europe really was.

England used to feel America owed her because she had been a colony. Putting aside temporarily the claims that no one had the right to claim land from the natives, or force other nations out who had been there first (*cough*New York was once New Amsterdam*cough*), lets look at how that obligation played out.

According to the histories I have read, they had expected to use the resources from this land on continually favorable terms to themselves. Colonists were forbidden to start up many regular industries.

You want an example? Locally, they have recently dug out the remains of an 'illicit' mill - of pottery. Yes, pottery! Cups, plates, mugs etc intended only for domestic use were declared illegal and could only be shipped even to other colonies through smugglers/pirates. Americans grew cotton but weren't supposed to make their own cloth commercially - and homespun was laughed at. HooHoo those roughspun, roughshod, beaver-hatted Americans! Tends to happen when you can only sell to your immediate neighbors - and nobody can afford to buy much anyway. Did you see what they paid me for that load of fine oak? Man! I bet the Spanish would have given me twice that! No, can't afford those wool coats, and we personally don't have sheep in our county (the counties that do can't sell them to us) but, hey, I traded a fine knife with the Illinois for this fur robe... It'll do...

Americans weren't supposed to make their own fine furniture without a special license - and it still couldn't be legally shipped to other colonies or any other country besides England- who had plenty of wonderful cabinetmakers already. Are you getting the picture?

This one of the reasons we once had so many famous pirates - and why a number of them were considered the good guys! (Hey, Guybrush :)

No, instead the colonists were ordered to ship raw materials ONLY to England at prices set in London -favorable to the shippers and wholesalers, and buy the manufactured goods back - at rates set in London favorable to the manufacturers. Plus transport. Then plus the stamp taxes that let the government itself take an additional cut in order to pay for the French & Indian war in America & Canada - that had actually been an extension of the war between England and France in EUROPE. Many troops had been stationed on pioneers & townsfolk at their own expense. Much uncompensated injury to civilians and their property had occurred (some from the troops) without redress. Cases were dismissed at local level, by the Lords given lands and vassals here, and in England, where they were often openly insulted - on top having paid quite a bit to take the journey & pay the lawyers to be heard. There are literally hundreds of cases still available in the archives that clearly show how little justice many colonial Americans received.

Natives had a different experience, but not entirely a better one. Some of their treaties with England & France were honored completely. Other times they were paid in blankets infected with smallpox and informed that their allegiance meant they were expected to prey on neighbors who were loyal to the other power - or else.

England wasn't being unusually bad in this, btw. Most imperial colonies suffered debilitating 'economic relationships' with overlord nations. When you hear an South American or African nation complain today that the prices of their rough diamonds, spices, perfume ingredients, coffee, bananas, lumber, or other crops seem artificially low compared with finished market values - they are saying that, to some extent, the big companies are setting arrangements in stock exchanges of London, Tokyo, New York etc that effectively put them back into the same sort of abusive arrangements that debilitated the economies of the colonies back in the day. Whether they are right or not, I cannot personally verify.

After the revolution, England still regarded us (internally) as a colony - just one they had lost control of temporarily. When the battle with France became bad again - under Napoleon - they began seizing American ships and sailors into their navy. Americans protested, but to little avail.

Napoleon, meantime, wooed the US as a fellow revolutionary/libertarian. Records indicate he was not sincere in his protestations, but he did see the opportunity to sell us the French colonies to support his war effort - and leave us to fight the Brits for New Orleans. He knew it would be attacked. If we won, he figured he could get the colonies back from us later. If we lost, we would still tie up precious British troops & ships at our own expense. Yep, our buddy in the war -while we were fighting England - France, had some plans for us too.

Britain DID invade America again in 1812, and burned Washington. They attacked New Orleans too, but lost. Then 'civil unrest' (read, the regular people of England.) announced in numerous ways they were tired of imperial wars of conquest on top of the necessary one for freedom they had just fought with Bonaparte - America wasn't likely to invade England - so let them be.

Later, when America began to do a bit better on the international scene, England continued in the attitude that America's success came from being her colony, and they ought to have gotten more from us. Even the popular literature of the Victorian era cheers at the 'repatriation' of rich Americans marrying into wealthy English families - giving back to the 'mother' country. It was a very popular theme.

Now- anyone who has studied European history for any length of time becomes aware of certain feuds that have resurfaced regularly over recorded history. The lands of France, Germany, Spain, Denmark, Italy, England, and Ireland have had nearly continual rows with one another since, well, ever since the Roman empire broke up, really.

Once upon a time, most of our leaders were very well read and knew this. They also knew that our country (& Canada too) had suffered when those conflicts were spread through local representatives into North America. It really wasn't weird for America to be a little shy of diving into either of the World Wars of the 20th century.

Yes, England was in the right both times. So say the history books. It is understandable, therefore, that the English have been a bit bugged about our late - 'heroic,' arrival after their valiant men had done so much for so long. & Yes, it would probably have helped to got into it earlier in WWII. I have doubts about it being helpful in WWI. For starters, that DID start as another interminable European alliance/land squabble. Then too, for the first few years, WWI generals used the same stupid tactics of running guys from trenches into open machine gun fire. I am NOT sorry our troops missed most of that! I am sorry their arrival spread the 1918 plague everywhere.

I sometimes wonder if they wouldn't have managed if we had stayed home and the comparatively mild avian flu our troops suffered from never mutated in their pigs? Did we send enough people that it made a difference anyway? Did we really win with the flu? Was that the real reason Germany had to give up? Would universal healthcare have helped any of the nations back then?

So where are we now? Well - thanks to NATO arrangements & the effects of the Cold War with Russia, we've been tightly bound in all kinds of arrangements with Europe. Our government has often been the supplier & maintainer of European defense systems for decades - which our govt is seriously considering giving over to the combined forces of the EU. At the same time Europe has often enjoyed casting us as a big bully in most public plays - even the ones where we fought and died for the freedoms of other peoples (except for WWI & WWII) especially those conflicts where we believed that we were saving them from being colonized by communist puppets. We're often told we were on the wrong side in many of these conflicts, never mind all the refugees from communist controlled countries. (Mind you, if our government did subsidize some mini-Hitlers to stave off all socialism & for business reasons, that then they did earn some of that criticism. The American people, however, were not that cynical.)

Their populations have a strong sense of entitlement - which seems to be extended to us entirely too often. We're supposed to mostly pay for the UN that they control. We were expected to fund most of NATO, while they used their improved economies to aid their citizens. We are expected to send a disproportionate amount of aid in every disaster - and endure accusations gracefully that some secret weapon or technology of ours is somehow to blame - or that we should have paid for EVERYONE to have a worldwide alarm system for that kind of disaster (all these accusations were leveled at us in international media after that tsunami). It goes on and on...

I sincerely hope we'll at least be compensated for the expense of their stupid missile system, but I won't be surprised if we aren't. We'll never be repaid for all the soldiers who have stood guard to defend them over the years.

The saddest part of the internet for many Americans has been the discovery that so many people we have loved in our naive, Christian way - have such harbored ugly attitudes towards us. This includes Israel. We may feel obligated before God to defend her (and we'd better!) but there are days when even our highest officials wonder if they like us at all. The highest percentage of Europeans who actually treat us like the decent people many of us try to be seem to be from Eire, the UK or Greece.

On a very emotional level, most of us love England. I have often felt an unreasonable amount of fondness for this country I have never personally seen. I also love Scotland and Ireland with an intensity that most of continental Europe has never been able to raise -despite the fact that my ancestry is at least as much French/German.

Why is that? I think its cultural. John Bull has long seemed to many of us to be the good guy. We study more of England's literature, listen to more of their musicians & artists, and watch more of their shows than we do of any other country on Earth. We've heard from many English voices over the years, and their educated sets & kindest souls have impressed us favorably. We know we have a long history with them. We speak their language -well, a version of it anyway. Most of all they produced the likes of C.S. Lewis, Tolkein, Pratchett, Shakespeare, Donne, Milton, Rowling, and even Dr Who.

You gotta like the people who brought forth Dr Who

Friday, July 06, 2007

Choosing Joy

A neat lady (whose emails I greatly enjoy) always says that she chooses joy every day. Whatever challenges come her way, she will choose the Joy of the Lord all through it. Its an inspiring motto, certainly, but not easy to do! I try to choose gratitude each day, for whatever is good in my life, and for each good thing I know anyone has done for me or mine - but thanking God for ugliness, trials, setbacks etc is a step I've only adopted recently. Amazingly I have found this deepens faith - and my real joy in Christ. I didn't feel nearly so silly trying it after the first times. Been pondering the choice of joy lately, and found some quotes seem to go with my rambling thoughts. Here are some of them.

"Wisdom comes from God, and with God it shall remain.
Like the sounds of the seashore or the drops of the rain
or the days of eternity
Who can number these?
Who can explore heaven's heights of the depths of the seas?
Before all things were created, wisdom came to be.
The beginning of wisdom is the awesome fear of God"

John Michael Talbot "Wisdom"

"Nothing is so strong as gentleness. Nothing is so gentle as real strength."

Frances De Sales

"The deeper that sorrow carves into your being the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?"
"We choose our joys and sorrows long before we experience them."

Khalil Gibran

"There is no beautifier of complexion, or form, or behavior, like the wish to scatter joy and not pain around us. 'Tis good to give a stranger a meal, or a night's lodging. 'Tis better to be hospitable to his good meaning and thought, and give courage to a companion. We must be as courteous to a man as we are to a picture, which we are willing to give the advantage of a good light."

"The only reward of virtue is virtue; the only way to have a friend is to be one."

"Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm."

"To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn appreciation of honest critics and endure betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. - That is to have succeeded."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

"...because a thankful heart is a happy heart. I'm glad for what I have - that's an easy place to start. For a God who really cares and who listens to my prayers - that's why I say thanks every day." from Madame Blueberry - Veggietales.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Last night :)

We had the lovely peaceful evening in the backyard that we'd planned. We had hotdogs slaw, Bush beans, and those tasty sunflower oil chips on the new picnic table, with its small citronella candles fluttering like captured moths in the middle. We chatted a little bit as we enjoyed the mild temperatures and the light breeze. Dragonflies flew past in the deepening twilight. Fireflies twinkled from the forest's edge.

Then Tom and I opened a pack of small fireworks and prepared the fuses. This year Tom had me do the honors of lighting off one after another - scooting to safety as each fuse sparkled and hissed its intention. (Those looong distance lighters are NICE for this!). We oohed and aahed at the good ones, chuckled at the fireflies vain efforts to keep up with the sparkliest ones, and sighed for the two that didn't quite want to work right. I'd stockpiled three packs so we had plenty of time to enjoy the experience.

Couldn't have asked for it to go better. Last evening will be a memory worth keeping.

Thank you, God, for blessing it!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Have a Great Independence Day!

...if you're of the disposition to enjoy it, that is :)

Its been a wonderful Independence Day - actually, week, for us thus far. By now we've three nice bbq meals out since the weekend, as well as pepperoni & cheese pizza before the fireworks. We've seen small bands & big fireworks (twice). So today we're enjoying a quiet, delightful 4th at home. Plans for this evening, if the weather stays nice, include our little fireworks on the side of another outdoor picnic-y dinner at our new picnic table. Yum! :))

Still remembering 2 years ago, when the biggest thing about my 4th of July celebration was seeing Tom wake up briefly in ICU to see a little of a band playing on tv -- and to growl at the soundtrack from the Vonage commercial. May not sound like much but everyone there was rejoicing. (We'd all been waiting for that moment since the big surgery!) Last year Tom lit a few little fireworks here, but was between reversal procedures so we didn't do much. So I guess you understand now why we are so thoroughly celebrating this time!

Online Videos by

Hearing that some of you have been unable to celebrate due to rain or fire restrictions, we decided to share the film we made of one of the firework sessions we attended. Its not as good as the real thing, I know, but I hope you will enjoy it anyway. Hope your 4th of July is equally blessed!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Tom's Toy

We're taking our July 4th celebrating slow and easy. We had bbq one night already. We've laid aside some sparklers for the night itself & we're making plans to see the big show of lights soon.

Decided to spend a few minutes putting up a few of my hubby's latest pics. :))

Aren't the flowers lovely? They all grow close to the house.

We call the kitty you see Sandy Norris because when he arrived, as a half-grown, half-starved stray, he looked so very much like the book illustrations of Mrs Norris in the Harry Potter books. He's kinda filled out since then - and is well on his way to being a 'real cat' in the Pratchett sense. Seems like he's mostly adopted us for now. We're trying to work him up for a trip to the vet and all that. If he is going to stay he should have his shots up to date etc.

This will be the last picture of Starbird, most likely. A bird fancying acquaintance lost all his feathered friends during a move & we figured she'd also enjoy living with him. From what we've heard back thus far, the change was a happy one for them both. He spoils her rotten and she loves every minute of it