Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
and all your plans will be established.
--Proverbs 16:3

This past weekend we had a guest speaker in church, Russ King from Nashville. Sunday morning he talked about the journey from victim, to survivor, to overcomer. To extremely condense a very rich sermon, the victim is still living in the tragedy, expecting special treatment and/or sympathy. "I'm one of the Hurricane Katrina victims." The survivor no longer expects to be treated special, but still defines him/herself by the tragedy, maybe even takes pride in it: "I'm a hurricane Katrina survivor." The overcomer has incorporated the experience, learned from it, and moved beyond it, thinking of it as an experience, not a tragedy, and refusing to be defined by it. "Oh, why yes, I did live through Huricane Katrina. It was quite an experience..."

Moving from one phase to another is not an entirely natural process: It takes effort, courage, and faith. It is very much like the process of forgiveness: If you still define the person--and your relationship with them--by what he did to you, you have not fully forgiven.

Glued on the dashboard of my truck is a little purple metal plaque with Proverbs 16:3, given to me a very long time ago by a very special person with whom I was parting ways. When I glance at that plaque, as I have just about every day for the past thirteen or so years, I do not think of the person who gave it to me, nor of the exquisite pain of our parting. I think of the God who has established my ways, through that and many other good and bad times.

When all the distractions go away, that really is how I define myself: Not by the triumphs I have savored or the tragedies I have survived, but by the God who is teaching me to overcome both.

Thank you for bringing me this far, Father.

Free Advice

Don't stack your firewood pile up to the rafters on the side of your shed.

Why, you ask?

OK, I'll tell you why: When one of those ridiculously wet, heavy fall snows occurs, the snow will have nowhere to slide off the roof of your shed. And when a thousand pounds or so of wet, heavy snow has no way to go other than down, that's the way it will go, roof or no roof.

Much to the detriment of your shed.

That's why.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Kipling on Common Sense

The following poem was brought to mind by the current financial mess (not to mention the current presidential election). We really never learn, do we?

The Gods of the Copybook Headings by Rudyard Kipling

As I pass through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place;
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know."

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four—
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man—
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began:
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will bum,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Aspen Camping

I got home yesterday and was delighted to find that Sarah had the truck all packed up and ready to go camping! YES! We drove up the Loop Road, and down into what I think is Lower Townsend Creek. God really pulls out all the stops this time of year when it comes to decorating. Rather than make some sad effort to describe it, I'll just save several thousand words and let the pictures do the talking.