Saturday, June 19, 2010

Keeping Kids Safe

My son-in-law pointed me to an article by "America's Worst Mom."

She writes: We have to be less afraid of nature and more willing to embrace the idea that some rashes and bites are a fair price to pay in exchange for appreciating the wonder of a cool-looking rock or an unforgettable fern.

I have long said that it is SAFER for a kid to break his leg falling off the 8'-high slide (which no longer exists) than it is for him to stay locked up "safely" in his living room playing video games and watching television. Our society's desire to protect children actually does untold damage to a child's curiosity, intelligence, self-determination, and ability to grow up into a functional adult.

I'm plenty scared. The fearmongers all around me and the fearmongers in the media have affected me. And yet, in comparison to many moms around me, I'm the loosey-goosey "bad mom" that lets my kids do all sorts of wild and outlandish things. Helping cook (at the stove) when they're 1. Using the stove on their own when they're 5 or 6; chopping veggies with a sharp knife at the same age. Climbing ladders and high trees. Walking alone to a friend's house a half-mile away at age 7. At age 16, going to live for a few months with people that we met on the internet.

Check out Free Range Kids. What if enough of us spoke up (not officially, not on the FRK blog, but just to the folks around us)? What if the fearmongers lost some of their choke-hold on society?

Today's Laugh

The trucker knew the upcoming bridge was low, but the detour would be long and he thought he could make it through. Unfortunately, he managed to wedge his truck and load under the bridge. The state cop came out and said, "Got stuck there a little bit, huh?"

The quick-thinking truck driver said, "No, I was just delivering a bridge and ran out of gas."

Friday, June 18, 2010


Our story on Sunday was about Josiah and the recovery of the Torah and the celebration of the Passover (2 Kings 22). Josiah tore down the places of worship for the Baals and Ashtoreths. He got rid of the mediums and spiritists. He restored the temple and the feasts to Yahweh.

Nevertheless ...

Nevertheless the Lord did not turn from the fierceness of His great wrath, with which His anger was aroused against Judah, because of all the provocations with which Manasseh had provoked Him. And the Lord said, "I will also remove Judah from My sight, as I have removed Israel, and will cast off this city Jerusalem which I have chosen, and the house of which I said, 'My name shall be there.'" (2 Kings 23:26-27)

Whaddya mean, "Nevertheless"?? The people returned to the Lord their God. They repented. They celebrated the Passover as it hadn't been celebrated before. But God is still ticked? What's up with that? He will still pour out His wrath. He's still getting rid of them.

What about forgiveness? What about grace? What about mercy?

I did not like that "Nevertheless"!

But here's what Pastor said. Judah, the temple, Israel -- they are types of Christ. They show us who God is and what He's like and what He does.

The people repented. But God couldn't just say, "Ah, okay. No biggie. I won't be mad any more. We'll just forget about it." No. His anger at sin is real. Sin must be atoned for; it cannot merely be set aside. So, nevertheless,

It pleased the Lord to bruise Him;
He has put Him to grief.

The fierceness of His wrath was poured out upon His Son --the true Judah-- because of all the ways we provoked Him with our unbelief and our idolatry.

Many hands were raised to wound Him,
None would interpose to save;
But the deepest stroke that pierced Him
Was the stroke that justice gave.

God had promised that Jerusalem, that the temple, that the Holy of Holies, would be the place of His saving presence. And yet He promises here in 2 Kings that He will cast off this place. How can both be true?

Mark the Sacrifice appointed,
See who bears the awful load;
'Tis the Word, the Lord's Anointed,
Son of Man and Son of God.

The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
and by His stripes we are healed.

Today's Laugh

I personally do not blame Congress. If I had $600 or $800 billion in my pocket, I'd probably be irresponsible too.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


I've been considering taking a class at the local tech school on running a small business. I have several ideas, and I could begin to implement one or more of them easily enough -- were it not for government regulations out the wazoo. Hence the class. Not to learn about running a business, but about staying out of trouble with the government bureaucrats as I operate a business.

So yesterday I'm bouncing around the website for our tech school's Small Business Center and the links they have to the Small Business Administration. This is scary. The laws. The regulations. The need for insurance. The need for permits. The need for licenses. The taxes. The laws, the laws, the laws.

I burst out laughing at the claims that the government wants to provide incentives to small business owners, that they want to encourage entrepreneurs who will be creating new jobs.

They must not have taken a look at their own website.

There is nothing there but discouragement! The risks of starting a business are great enough without the government being the primary foe of the new business.

Need More School?

Oh no!
Test scores are falling!
American children score near the bottom of the heap in _________!
Drop-out rates are climbing!
The sky is falling!

I know. Here's what we'll do. We're obviously not teaching them enough. So longer school days! More school days! Start 'em at 5 instead of 6! No, wait -- start the kids at 4 instead of 5. No wait -- maybe they should start at age 3...

Barbara writes briefly about the news of what happened in some school districts where they decided to have four-day weeks instead of five-day weeks.

Homeschoolers are not surprised.

Today's Laugh

A farmer saw a huge campaign bus go by his corn field. Just as it went out of sight, he heard a huge crash and the bus hit a big oak tree. The farmer dashed down to the carnage and figured he would clean up the site. He buried all the dead politicians in a big hole beside the road.

When the bus failed to show up at its destination, a state police officer followed the bus's route. Subsequently the officer found the bus and the gravesite.

The farmer ambled out and told the officer how he heard the crash and thought it would be helpful to bury all the dead politicians. The state patrolman asked in astonishment, "Were they all dead? Everyone was dead??"

The farmer assured him, "Yeah, there were a lot of dead ones. There were also a few that claimed they were not dead, but you know how politicians lie."

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Work: Paid or Unpaid

In the midst of some study on the Seventh Commandment ("You shall not steal") I ran across Paul's admonition in 2 Thessalonians 3 --
If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.

The commentary on this verse reminds us that generosity and charity is good. It is, however, not a good thing for Christians to give material goods to those who are impenitently slothful.

And that's where it stings.

I don't want to get a job. I don't want my daughters to have to get jobs when they are mommies, either. How can I obtain paid employment when I know it would mean abdicating so many of my responsibilities, leaving undone so much of the work that I now do (cooking, gardening, housework, homeschooling, volunteering, and more)?

I can tell myself with all reasonable logic that I do work. Friends and family try to assure me that I am not lazy. But there's that verse: "if you will not work, you shall not eat."

Boy, women's lib sure has re-focused our idea of work. We say that women should be free to choose a career instead of staying home with the family. But after 40+ years of women's lib, we all know that a woman who's not earning a paycheck isn't really working.

The consumerism of our country adds to this. The only work that counts is work that earns a paycheck. All the other women earn paychecks, and somehow they manage to get their laundry done and toss some supper on the table. You know the lines: "They've got their priorities straight. What's the matter with you stay-at-home moms that you put such a high priority on home-making? You can manage without."

How do we know when to set aside the work God has given us to do, and trade it in for work which pulls in a paycheck? Is it mistrust of God to quit the unpaid work you've been doing (the duties to which God has called you in your vocation) so as to earn an income, or is it laziness to continue to do the work that doesn't garner any cash?

Today's Laugh

A woman went to the clinic for a problem. After a look at her health history and a discussion of the symptoms of her health problem, the doctor told her, "I think you're pregnant."

The horrified woman ran from the examination room screaming. She was stopped by a senior doctor who asked her what was wrong.

"That young doctor hardly even examined me and then told me I was pregnant. I am 67 years old! I can't be pregnant," she said.

The senior doctor quickly consulted with the young doctor about his horrendous diagnosis. The young doctor interjected, "Are her hiccups gone?"

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

In Vigil

At anniversary time, we often recall the details of that day. For example, the oncology nurses who brought us trays of food. On the day that Dad died, we were sitting in his room at the hospital. We weren't leaving. The nurses would come in and check, "How are you doing? Do you need anything? Is there anything I can do for Hank or for you?" Nope. We were okay. But we didn't leave the room to go to the cafeteria. The nurses noticed. After a while, one of those sweet women came in with a tray of tea, water, cookies, and fresh fruit. Later in the afternoon, seeing that we still weren't leaving Dad's bedside, they came back with another tray containing light lunch foods.

On that last day, I remember thinking that I would not be able to explain to someone who asked, "WHY do you sit there? What sense does it make? What does it accomplish?" And yet, there was nothing else to do. Something deep inside us compelled us to be there, even if human reason said it was pointless.

Yesterday we attended Betty's funeral. In the sermon, Pastor mentioned how the family had lovingly and tenderly cared for Betty during those last days when her health took such a turn for the worse, how they had been with her at the end. He spoke of how it is a Christian thing to keep vigil at the bedside of a dying loved one. He spoke of the women at the foot of Jesus' cross. He spoke of standing beside those who suffer to share in their sufferings and to support them in the small way that we can. But mostly he spoke of a Savior who shared in our sufferings and stood beside us, taking our punishment upon Himself.

Oh. So that explains the compulsion to be there with your loved one. Oh.

Lessons for a New Gardener with Strawberries

They say you learn from your mistakes. Okay, here's what I've learned this year so far.

1. Strawberries need straw. Too many strawberries are being lost to their contact with the soil. Next year I must apply mulch of some sort in April.

2. Strawberries need air. I thought I thinned the berries. I just hate ripping out plants and pruning trees and thinning canes. Thinking back to how big (not!) the strawberry plants grew during their first summer (last year), I didn't realize they would grow so full and lush this year. Suffice it to say, I need to yank out a LOT more plants next May and leave plenty of space in the rows so that the plants don't overcrowd each other, which reduces fresh air and encourages rot.

Now, this is not to say that my strawberry patch is doing poorly. But oh, next year I want it to be so much better!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Agreeable to Change

Last week was a family reunion. Katie and Nathan and Alia traveled from Texas to attend. Occasionally (but rarely) Alia was a bit out of sorts. For the most part, though, it was a grand time for her. Plenty of people around to entertain her, to take her to the playground, to take her to the pool, to take her for a walk, to play chase or to rough-house. Sometimes it was hard for her to get to sleep in a strange bed. Sometimes she was over-tired and didn't want to come in from playing to nap. But overall, she adjusted really well.

Especially when you consider that a 1-yr-old doesn't really understand the concept of "vacation." She left her home. She left her kitties. She left her toys. She was dragged out of bed at an unreasonably early hour, locked up in a car seat for the whole day, didn't know hardly any of the people she was thrown together with for the week, ... and it was okay! Not only okay, but good!

Now, how many of us would react that way?

We want to know what's going on. We want to know what's coming next. We're often discombobulated when we lose the stability of what's around us.

I would see Alia prancing around confidently and recall the movie Life Is Beautiful. Granted, Alia had fun stuff like swimming and slides and swings and cousins. But you know how kids can be about their routine. It struck me that our attitude was "Isn't this great?!?" And so Alia enjoyed the adventure even though it would have been easy enough to a kid to be cranky in the situation. She had her parents with her; her needs were met; what she had [to all appearances] lost (such as toys and pets) was not important enough to deter her from the things she gained.

If only I could trust my heavenly Father when big changes (and even losses) come. If only I could, like Alia, just go with whatever comes rollin' along through life and accept it with joy.

Storing Kombucha Mushrooms

Before we left on vacation, I made three batches of kombucha to brew while we were gone. I could come home, refill the empties we drank on vacation, and start brewing again. I went to grab a mushroom today for the first new batch and discovered ... [gasp] ... no starter. And even a few dried-up mushrooms.

Apparently those mushrooms were hungry. So here's the deal: if you're planning to leave your mushrooms untended for a week, give them each at least 12-16 ounces of starter tea to keep them fed and moist until you return.

Frugal on the Soap

I took a bar of home-made soap with us on vacation last week. It got used up! In one week! It never does that at home.

The shower stall was arranged such that the built-in soap dish was right where the water hits. (Now who would build it like that? Somebody with lots of stock in Dial and Safeguard?)

At home we have soap dishes that attach to the wall with suction cups. (Something on the order of this thing.) I can sure tell a difference in how fast the soap disappears at home, depending on where the dish is placed on the wall of the shower.

Maybe I need to start carrying a dish with me when I leave home, and not just my own soap.