mental radio

...is when the tunes playing inside my head,

turn out to be the LORD trying to tell me something...

Sunday, November 28, 2004
 
hosting a carnival

I will be hosting the next Storyblogging Carnival, number VII, at my fiction blog in about a week. My first time doing anything that ambitious. Prayers appreciated.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004
 
re: christmas

Well, as long as I'm ranting (see post just previous)...

Rocky at Chapter and Verse has this post about Christmas (which he spells 'Christmass'). His views agree very much with my late husband's and mine - except I learned some stuff I never knew when I read Rocky's post earlier today.

And reading what he had to say sparked off some thoughts I have had over the years about Christmas. So...

Santa ~

Years before I ever had kids, I saw a skit at a Christian coffee house, showing a little boy telling his Momma about how his buddy had told him there was no Santa, no Easter bunny, no tooth fairy. And the little boy had faithfully told his buddy, of course there is! My Momma told me there is. And she wouldn't lie to me.

And of course, Momma had to admit to him that, yes, she had lied to him.

The skit ended with the little boy looking up into Momma's face and saying, 'Did you lie about Jesus too?'

Wow.

Can you guess that, when I did have kids, we didn't do the Santa/Easter bunny/tooth fairy thing?

I want my kids to be able to trust that if I tell them something, I'm not gonna come back later and say, 'oh that's really not true after all.' I want my kids to know that I will do my best to tell them the Truth - and especially about Jesus.

The feeding frenzy ~

My husband came from a family of 7 kids. One time, we spent Christmas with his folks, with all the grandkids there. And they did the present exchange. Oy!

They lined all the grands up on the floor around the tree. And one adult pulled out gifts, read the tags, and handed them around. While another adult stood there with a trash bag, grabbing the shredded wrapping paper from the kids as fast as they ripped it off the packages.

And there were scads of gifts per kid. They were ripping paper, glancing at what was inside, then dropping it to grab the next gift. Like an assembly line.

Like sharks with blood in the water.

And when it was all done - when there were no more gifts to wrench open - the kids were looking around, as if they were thinking, 'That's it? This is all we get?' When each one of them had a pile of new toys, etc, at their sides!

Greed. Greed central.

Ugh.

Nowadays, when Christmas rolls around, my parents (who live in another state) will usually send my kids a big box with one gift apiece in it. And one or two other relatives might do the same. And then a mysterious someone at church will give them each something. Also, my brother will send a check to get them a gift apiece with.

And I have learned that when the kids receive a box of gifts, whatever day it is - let them have the gift that day. One at a time. They appreciate the gift more, when it's the only thing they got that day.

Avoiding the feeding frenzy.

The songs ~

They will be played continuously this time of year, from the day after Thanksgiving until after New Year's Day. The 'Christmas carols.' Except many of them have nothing to do with Christmas - some are celebrations of the original pagan rituals - and the 'Christian' ones can have their facts so screwed up...!

Songs like 'Winter Wonderland' and 'Let it Snow.' These are simply winter songs. Why are they only played for Christmas? Shouldn't they be played right up through the start of spring?

Songs like 'Deck the Halls' and 'Wassailing.' These hark back to the rites of the pagans from before Christmas came into being. The Yule log and such. Hold-overs pointing back to the true origin of this winter holiday.

Songs like 'The First Noel.' Oh, that song sets my teeth on edge! They have the shepherds following the star, for crying out loud! Didn't anyone actually read their Bible before writing this one?

There are a few songs for this time of year that I do like. 'O Little Town of Bethlehem' - 'O Come O Come Emanuel' - 'Joy to the World.'

And the best of the lot, with its clearly evangelical lyrics: 'Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.' 'Born that men no more may die / born to raise the sons of earth / born to give them second birth...' (Now, that's a writer who was reading his Bible!)

The date ~

Speaking of 'this time of year'...

If the LORD had wanted us to celebrate HIS birth, don't you think HE would have indicated it clearly in the Bible just when HE was born? But out of four Gospels, Mark and John don't even cover the birth of the Savior. Matthew speaks of the birth, but doesn't bother to mention when it was.

Only Luke covers it in detail - and gives only clues as to the time of year. We know that it was six months after John the Baptist's birth - which was at least nine months after his father Zechariah's vision in the Temple while burning incense. At least nine months later - maybe more than that...

And we know that it was a time of year when the shepherds would be out in the fields at night to watch over their sheep. Which to me says, not likely in the dead of winter.

HIS death, on the other hand, is clearly dated. It was at Passover. All four Gospels tell us so.

To me, that says something. It says - the death and resurrection - that's the important part - focus there.

(But please! don't call it Easter! Which is the name of a pagan goddess - and fodder for another rant in about four months...)

 
it's NOT turkey day!

Please - pet peeve of mine - and it may be a minor thing - but this is NOT turkey day. We are not celebrating turkeys. We are supposedly - supposedly - remembering how the LORD lovingly blesses us with good things. And most Americans have tons of good things, and frankly very little gratitude.

I live on the border with Mexico. All you have to do is cross the Rio Grande and see some of the colonias over there - shacks made of cardboard! - to see how good Americans have it. Even the poor in America tend to have it better than an awful lot of Mexicans.

And Americans don't live in a war zone, like people in Iraq or Afghanistan or the Sudan, etc. We have a LOT to be thankful for. But for so many of us, the holiday that should remind us of our blessings, and of the Giver of all good things - instead, it's 'turkey day' with too much to eat and football games. And gratitude and thankfulness nearly forgotten.

Rant done.

Monday, November 22, 2004
 
storyblogging carnival vi

...is now up at Back of the Envelope. Go and have a read.

I volunteered myself to host the next carnival. Eek! This should be a learning experience...

Wednesday, November 17, 2004
 
70 x 7

How much is too much? How often is too often? How many trips to the well can one person make before that well runs dry?

How many times can a Christian mess up and come back asking for pity, for compassion, for help - before the rest of us Christians throw up our hands and say, 'Ya! Enough! You must like to wallow. If you really wanted to be free, you'd be free already.' And we wash our hands of him, kick the dust off our feet against him, and leave him to himself.

At what point do we do that?

At what point should we do that?

Or even - should we ever do that?

Peter asked the LORD how often he should forgive his brother - up to seven times? And Jesus answered him, not seven times, but seventy times seven. Was the LORD wanting us to keep a careful count, and on the 491st time, cut off the forgiveness? What do you think?

How far do we take this? How long do we hang in there? How many days do we put up with a fellow Christian who is given the same good advice over and over again, and never seems to change? One week? Two weeks? Three?

James speaks of the farmer waiting for the precious fruit of the earth, having long patience as he waits for the early and latter rains. Just how long does a farmer wait, watching for his crops to sprout and grow and ripen for the harvest - one week? Two weeks? Three?

A whole season?

Or what of the case of a tree? A whole season is not long enough for it to grow to maturity. Jesus spoke of the impatient owner of a fig tree. Three years the owner had come looking for fruit on that tree and found none! Cut it down!

But the gardener begging of him yet one more year. One more year, before cutting it off, before giving up hope.

Four years. How many of us bear with someone that long?

How long did GOD have to bear with us, before HE ever saw us change?

Change can be long in coming. Not everyone 'gets it' quickly. Sometimes the good seed planted is snatched away by the birds of the air, again and again and again, before it can ever take root. And then there may be rocks still in the soil - so many rocks! - that need to be cleared away, and more cleared away, and more cleared away, before that root can go deep. And sometimes the weeds spring up, again and again and again, and must be rooted out again and again and again - before the good soil is at last ready to bring forth a fruitful harvest.

Patience. Patience untried, patience unstretched, is not yet patience. Mercy unstretched, unproved, is still but a pleasant concept, not yet living and active.

Mercy. James tells us that mercy triumphs over judgment. And warns us that those who show no mercy cannot count on receiving mercy when they need it.

How much is too much? Just stretch a little more. Have a bit more patience, a bit more mercy, with the person who is 'taking too long.' Let it grow you up a bit more, in love and compassion and mercy.

After all, GOD's well of love and compassion and mercy hasn't run dry yet. Why should ours?

 
what i've been up to

When I started blogging back in sept, the first name I gave my site was 'the infrequent blogger.' And I seem to have reverted to infrequent blogging, haven't I?

I have been writing. Just not much non-fiction. Over at my fiction site, though, I've been putting up a new chapter on my story 'the child' every 3 days or so.

It's odd how that story started. I was praying, asking the LORD to give me a story to place on my fiction site. And the first sentence popped into my head. So I repeated the sentence over and over again (so I wouldn't lose it) while I finished what I was doing (laundry) and hurried to the computer to write it down.

I wrote it down, 'cause I was curious to see what would come next. That was a little over a month ago, and I now have 16 chapters online, another 4 written in the editing/revision stage - and at last, some inkling of where all this is going! Whew!

Yeah, I have a funny way of writing. Almost like just being the secretary at times.

And then what many of you may not know (as if I have this huuuuuuuge readership here!) is that I am also writing a novel. And have been for quite a while now. When I started on it, I wrote that the main character was 10 years old - because, at the time, my oldest child was 10.

My oldest is now 15, going on 16 - and the novel is not yet 1/2 done!

Well - I took a rather long break from it. I was working on it, about 1/4 of the way through, deep into the third draft - when my husband died. And it happened the part I was writing at the time featured a character that was based on him. Which made it very hard to write. It was about a year before I could come back to it and write that section.

Finally finished that section - almost done with the next - and about to go back to the beginning, I think, and read through the entire novel, do some fine-tuning, make sure the main character stays 'in character' - all that good stuff. Before going on to finish the 6th section of the book - at which point I'll be half-way through.

I keep wanting to write something to place here. But for now, fiction seems to be the focus. So that's where I am.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004
 
yassir arafat is dead

Yahoo is reporting his death here.

I will admit it - it never occurred to me to pray for the man till the reports began coming out these past few days that he was near death. Johnny-come-lately that I was, I did pray in the last few days at least for him to come to the truth of the LORD Jesus Christ.

And now that he is dead... The power vacuum created by his demise could well make for a lot of chaos. So please, friends, please be praying - for the peace of Jerusalem - for the peace of the Middle East - for the peace of the world.

 
just a simple trip to the library

...except we never got there.

After school this afternoon, my oldest daughter asked me to drop her off at the library. My oldest son decided to stay home. So my daughter and I went to pick up the five other kids from school and head over to the library.

We got on the highway and were chugging along, the usual amount of squabbling going on in the back, when there came this little sound. Like a pop.

And then a louder sound. Like a flapping.

And then the car slowed down.

I was in the slow lane anyway, preparing to get off. We were almost to the exit ramp. All we needed to do was to go uphill over the overpass.

And I was beginning to wonder if I would need to get out and push. It was slowing down sooooooo much!

Prayer got us over the hill. Somehow, we got off the highway, and then across the frontage road. And into a parking lot. Whew!

I hopped out of the car, looking for some help. Tried the door of the business we were parked at - only to discover it was a big empty. So I tried the next business. A nice young man there offered to come change the tire for me. I thought, no problem. He'll change the tire, we'll backtrack to the Wal*Mart to get a new tire, let the kids eat at the McD's in the WM - then on our merry way.

Right?

Hmmm...

One of the lug nuts was stuck. And I mean stuck! The young man tried his best, but that thing just was not budging.

I thanked him, and started making calls from my cell phone. Called a lady from church whose son has worked on my car a few times before - and got her answering machine. Tried the church next. It was nearly 5 pm, so I wasn't sure if anyone would still be there.

But bless his heart! Brother Joseph was there. He took down the directions to where we were and said he and some others would be there shortly.

After a bit, the phone rang again. This time it was my friend's son - he and a buddy were coming too.

So soon I had lots of help. But that stubborn lug nut would. Not. Budge.

One of the men said he would look for a tire shop and drove off. He returned in two minutes with a mechanic. See, it turns out that when I got off the highway and pulled into the first driveway...

...the second driveway was a mechanics shop.

So the guys got my car and my kids over to the mechanics. And they worked and worked and worked...

And then it was 7 pm. So one of the young men offered to sardine me and my kids into his car and take us to church.

Which we did.

I left the spare keys with Brother Joseph. He said he would bring the car to the church for me once the mechanic cut the lug nut off and got the 'donut' put on.

(I learned tonight that the miniature spare tire in the back of my car is a donut. I never knew...)

So - we got to church. And got home. And tomorrow, I get to take the kids to school, riding on the 'donut' - and then to the WM for a new tire (and rim, likely).

Did I mention that, out of the blue, someone in my family had sent me a check this week? So I can pay for all this.

The LORD is good. Really really excellently good.

My Jesus...

 
winter texan season

It's beginning to be Winter Texan season down here. More and more cars are showing up around here with license plates from Minnesota and Iowa and Sasketchawan and such. A couple of times I have even seen plates from Alaska! That's a long, long drive from here!

Winter Texans is what we call them - the retirees from the upper regions of North America who come down here in their RV's to escape from the darker colder months of the year. Coming down here to subtropical Texas, where it never ever snows.

(Well...)

(A couple of years back, there was a rumor of a snow flurry in the town 50 miles east of here.)

(A snow flurry. Singular. One lonely flurry.)

(Getting back to what I was saying before I interrupted myself...)

Those of you who read my blog regularly (all two of you) know that I am a widow. And a fairly young one, too, coming up on 44 now.

(I don't mind telling my age, and wouldn't mind listing it on my Blogger profile - except that when I filled out the form for the profile and submitted it, I found to my horror that instead of the profile page simply displaying my birthdate, the thing converted the day and month of my birth into an astrological sign, and translated the year into a Chinese year-of-the-critter thing. So I, who find astrology of all stripes annoying to put in mildly - and blaphemous idolatry to put it bluntly - promptly took my birthday back down off the Blogger profile.)

(My birthday is 31 Dec 1960. See, I don't mind everyone knowing that.)

(And now if Rambling Rosie will finally get to her point...)

I had just turned 41 when my husband died, almost 3 years ago. Which is fairly young to be a widow. (Although I have met one online who was 18!) It was Winter Texan season then too, and I would walk into the store to do my shopping...

...and see all these retired couples going around the store together, gathering their groceries. Little old ladies with their little old husbands by their sides. And I would have a hard time inside myself to not feel cheated. That that was not going to be me roaming round the store with my husband beside me.

Really had to fight hard against that feeling of having been cheated!

So - to all you ladies who still have your husbands with you, who don't have only memories left of his smile and his laugh - cherish that man! Tell him frequently that you love him, and how much.

And always kiss him good-bye, too. Cause you never know if that will be the last kiss you will ever be privileged to give him.

Monday, November 08, 2004
 
storyblogging carnival V

Storyblogging Carnival V is now up at Back of the Envelope. I haven't had time to read all the entries yet - been trying to add a Table of Contents over at Tales by Sheya. I did make a point, though, to read this story by Donald Crankshaw (the current host). It is part three of his as-yet untitled story. And I'm looking forward tremendously to more, more, more!

Sunday, November 07, 2004
 
barely blogging

I know, I know - I haven't posted a thing here since the election. I keep starting out to write a post, then deleting what I've written.

My scattered almost-thoughts then:

The Bush win seemed to have brought out a lot of what I think of as 'Bush-olatry' - Christians so exultant over his win, as if having Bush in the White House will ensure good things breaking out everywhere. I heard a lot of talk of 'reprieve' and 'now we have four more years.'

But four more years to do what? To sit in our churches and continue with the bless-me clubs?

Yes, I voted for Bush (don't let my dad know I violated the principle of the secret ballot!) - but it was more like I voted against Kerry. I don't have a whole lot of illusions about Republican-presidents-as-Messiah: we've had some pretty conservative presidents - and yet abortion is still legal, morals continue to get worse and worse, etc, etc.

Yes, who occupies the White House does matter. But so does what we ourselves are doing. (Yes, including me.) It isn't enough to vote a Christian into the Presidency and think, I did a good thing; I can go back to sleep now.

You see why I starting writing this and then deleted it?

~~~

And the other thing I nearly blogged: that one by one over the past week, all four of our month-old kittens died. And we don't know why.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004
 
election day thoughts

I was thinking this morning about the election process - starting way-back-when with the primaries, carrying on all summer long till now, early November, when we finally vote -

And I was wondering: is the entire election process done this way in order to wear the voters out? I know at this point - like the final days of a pregnancy - I just want the thing to be over.

~~~

My other thought (danger! I actually had two thoughts in one morning!):

in light of all the unspun information being provided to the American people from the citizen-journalists of the blogosphere -

- someone ought to ask AlGore if he regrets having invented the Internet...



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