Friday, January 26, 2007
Yes, its not exactly like those lovely winter photos I published previously, but it is ours and we get excited to see flurries and make the most of it by taking pictures and trying to catch a snowflake on our tongues!! These pictures of our house were dutifully taken by our son Kevin, age 13, who in turn had his picture taken by son Chris, 18.
What kinds of things can we do on cold winter's days? Cooking, baking, "computering" and reading are fun. I have other tasks, however, and these must be attended to, today. Mounds of paperwork from last year to be put in order and filed. Tax-related papers to be grouped and organized. Bathrooms to be attended to and laundry to be done and put away. The mundane things that keep life grounded, and for which I am very thankful. I am also thankful that our eldest son in back in the States, though he won't be able to come home until probably this summer. Here's to you, Bobby. We love you!
Thursday, January 25, 2007
For whatever reason, the feminist website I posted two articles on has decided to remove their entire forum. I am disappointed since I was hoping to at least get some kind of rebuttal. Have you heard the latest? Not only has Nancy Pelosi been hyping the part of her resume that talks about her being a mother and grandmother, but now Hillary is running for President "as a mother". Does anyone remember her disparaging the role of a stay-at-home wife and mother by saying she could have "stayed home and baked cookies, but....", but something like she chose to make her career her priority.
Of course both of these women are being lionized by the press for elevating the status of wife-hood and motherhood by abandoning their traditional roles. Conventional wisdom at its misguided best.
Sunday, January 21, 2007
THE TIME OF QUIET AND SOLITUDE
Winter has finally set in, the Christmas season is now a memory, and the new life of busy Spring sleeps, waiting in the womb of the earth. The wise person will now take the time to be quiet, to reflect on one's own life and life in general. Though some pursue a life of endless summer, I look forward to a time of cleansing cold, and eagerly guard my time of quiet and solitude. God has purposefully given us a rhythm and seasons to live by, and they all mean to keep us healthy and balanced, in body, mind, and spirit, if we will but receive them for the gifts they are.
When people's way of life was to till the earth, winter was the one season when their labor lessened a bit, and they had a chance to rest. This was a time for being with each other, for repairing things around the homestead, for enjoying the fruits of the previous harvest, and for weddings and visiting. There was finally ample time for handwork, for making furniture or for engaging in a hobby. Since there were no electronic diversions, a person would simply enjoy gazing at the beauty of a winter day, viewed safely from the window of one's little home. The children, so needed for their valuable help around the farm, probably cherished going to school a bit more than children today, for it meant leaving the back-breaking field work behind and having the time and opportunity to read and learn and enjoy their friends. Time would also permit the winter passtimes of sledding and, along with adults, ice skating.
Even now, even if we live in a city, winter tells us to slow down, to stay off the icy roads at night, to be home and warm and safe. The long nights seek to lull us into seeking our beds earlier, thereby conserving our own energy, as well as light and heat.
I am especially glad to be a wife and mother at home at this time of year. I finally have some time to think, to catch up on little projects and to plan a garden and perhaps a summer trip. I remember my sister-in-law talking about this one time. She found winter to be a more peaceful time, when motorcycles were put up and people were less likely to be out loitering around the streets at all hours. She loved the cold weather and the muffled sounds of a world covered in snow. I very much agree and like her, love to be inside when it is windy and stormy, listening to the sounds, and being thankful for the cozy nest the Lord has provided for us. My sister-in-law Helen lives in a small and very humble house, where she and my brother have raised six children. They live in an old city in upstate NY, so its not exactly like they live in what most of us would consider our dream location. Helen, however, has made their home into a cozy, tidy, "little colony of heaven", and their children have grown to be good, responsible people who love the Lord.
Just like at home, the pace has changed and slowed in the Lord's house as well. In liturgical churches, the year is divided into several different seasons, each having its own theme and color. In my church, we have just entered Ordinary Time, the time between the great Christmas feast and the preparatory time of Lent. Ordinary time, as my pastor said, is that time when we walk out our Christian faith, taking the lessons, strength and joys of the recent holidays and showing them forth in our everyday, ordinary lives. I think this is right and appropriate, and I thank God for Ordinary time, and for being an ordinary person, free to carry on my life's work and my Christian walk in obscurity. The liturgical color for Ordinary Time is green, symbolizing life, growth and hope. It reminds me that beneath the exterior white and gray of winter, there continues an interior life of ongoing growth in the Lord, who gives us a future and a hope.
Do you feel hopeful right now? Some pundits somewhere have designated January 22nd as the most depressing day of the year, owing to the Christmas letdown, the credit card bills, the weather and other factors. Perhaps the world thinks like that and perhaps not. Would you have thought of a day that the Lord has made as deserving to be designated the most depressing of the year? It wouldn't have occurred to me.
I'd say that January 22nd should be a day that we bask in the serenity of winter and in God's love for us and that we should reflect on what the Lord says in Isaiah 18:32: "And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places;"
Friday, January 12, 2007
We had a glorious Christmastide this year, with dinner company several times throughout the period between Christmas Eve and the Epiphany. I just thought it would be nice to share a few pictures, courtesy of my "photographer" guest and friend since we were both nine years old, Rae Lee. At this particular gathering, she, her husband, son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren came for a Turkey dinner. Another guest, a young veteran of Iraq and my oldest son's friend, Jeremy, was also in town and able to join us. Too bad my oldest is himself in the Middle East at present, but we hope to see him back in the States soon. I hope you enjoy these. Below is the crowd at the December 30th gathering. What we usually do is set up all the food on my long counter and usually the stove top, then have everyone fill their plates and sit in the dining room (old folks), kitchen (young folks) with couches in the family used for the overflow, if any. I would love to have a room large enough for a table that could seat 20, but we have to make do with this arrangement. There were 13 of us at this meal. Christmas Eve, we do a traditional Italian seafood dinner and our neighbors come and bring part of the dinner. This year we had 16 on Christmas Eve. We started early, around 5, had our dinner, cleaned up, then they went home so we all could rest a bit, before attending Midnight Mass together. I am in the choir this year and was very thankful to be able to sing at
Thursday, January 11, 2007
The Son of God and the Children of Men
I just saw the film, "Children of Men", in which mankind finds itself absolutely infertile in the year 2027. As the film begins we learn that the youngest person on earth, an 18 year old boy, has just been killed in a barroom brawl. The world by then is a very dark, inhumane place. Immigrants to Britain are being hunted down, put into concentration camps to be deported or killed. The government is cast as brutal and duplicitous, setting off bombs in London and blaming them on foreigners in order to keep hatred fomenting. This brave, new Britain also promotes a substance called "Quietus", which one can drink when one decides for oneself "when its a good time..." (to end one's own life).
Although violent, dark and gritty, the most horrifying thing about this movie (to me) is that it could be prophetic. Within the last 20 years in the United States, men's testosterone levels have been dropping, after adjusting for age and other factors, by about 1 percent a year. No one can say why and "experts" can only speculate that some kind of pollution may be a factor. Due to sexual diseases and other less apparent factors, the fertility rate for women is dropping as well. If we add contraception and abortion, two deliberate measures taken to extinguish new life, we find a sad and troubling picture, emerging. On the other end of the spectrum, euthanasia is slowly, quietly, but increasingly gaining acceptance.
Right now, a death wish is directed toward the (potential) youngest generation and the older generation, that is to say, aimed at everybody but the "now" generation of enlightened adults who are presently running things. I cannot understand why reasonable people are buying into this mentality, believing they can flaunt natural law and somehow not reap the natural and logical consequences which must surely follow. God has given us His laws and we transgress them at our peril.
Scientists are now reporting that a "super bug" staph infection is being spread by sexual contact. Add that to the epidemic of STD's and the scourge of AIDS, the unexpected reemergence of tuberculosis, and you would think that people might be able to reign in their passions a bit and think about abstaining until marriage and then staying faithful after marriage. Or at least doing all they can to teach this to their children.
I had seen something in the recent past about the male hormone problem. When I came home from the movie, I did a simple Internet search on "testosterone levels falling". I came up with some interesting results. As you might know, women's bodies also contain testosterone, and I read that a contraceptive has been developed that works by suppressing this hormone in women. I then read another article which said that inadequate levels of testosterone hasten the development of Alzheimer's disease in people. Now, if a lay person like me can do this and see an obvious problem, wouldn't you think the medical community would say, "Hmm, better not go with that new contraceptive, and boy, we better start doing some serious investigation and try to whip up public interest, so as to get some good grant money to look into the problem of the unexplained demise of this hormone.
What is going on here? I think that when people overtly or even by apathy reject God and His life-giving laws that they reap the natural and logical consequences of their behavior. The Lord came to earth to save us. He gave us the scriptures to guide us and His Holy Spirit to illumine our thinking and inspire us to live godly lives. In Romans 1:19 and 20, we are even told that those who have never heard the word are without excuse if they behave badly, since God has imprinted creation with His nature and even the heathen can understand Him without having heard the Gospel. So we are our own worst enemies. God loves us, He warns us, but if we insist on sticking our hands in the fire, we will surely get burnt. At some point, and I fear we may have already passed it, He must remove His restraining hand of protection.
I also believe, however, that right now society is getting plenty of encouragement and "help" from the dark prince and his powers and principalities. He has successfully played "bait and switch" with a culture that bought his promises of limitless pleasure and self-fulfillment, only to find they must pay for these with their own souls and the blood of the weak and the innocent.
How else could people sit placidly by and even affirm the deliberate and slow torture and murder of a physically healthy woman who was denied food and water? When they got away with killing Terri Shiavo I wanted to get up on my roof and scream, "If you're a baby boomer, your fate was sealed today!! In ten years they'll have targets painted on us and it will be open season on old people!"
Three weeks ago in Australia thousands of birds of varied species fell dead to the ground in the midst of flight. Last week in Austin, Texas the same event occurred. In neither case, despite many autopsies, can a scientific explanation be found. Two unprecedented events, across the globe from each other, and no one can say why.
New York City got its first dusting of snow of this winter the other day. This is the latest occuring first snow since records began being kept in the 1870's. Why? El Nino? Is this the first
El Nino winter we've had in 130 years?
The late pope, John Paul the second said that we are living in a culture of death. We must devote ourselves to turning this around and lighting up the world with our love and our light. By our prayers, by our words and actions, with every breath we must do our Father's work while it is yet day. For night comes when no man can work. Please, Lord, leave the light on a little longer.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Thinking more about being green, I believe we may just be onto something quite significant, since the political powers seem to be concerning themselves more about the environment lately. You know, however, that someone will probably argue that as green homemakers, we hurt the economy by not feverishly spending and consuming. I have to think about that for awhile, since that philosophy (that economies would sink if we did not keep spending and throwing out so we can spend more) seems to directly contradict what the bible tells us to do. The bible tells us to be good stewards, to be thrifty, not to get in debt, not to be gluttonous or wasteful.
I think that the current view on what makes a healthy economy would be OK if there was no ceiling, no finite end to our resources. But the party has to end sometime. This side of user friendly nuclear fusion, there is only so much that we can consume and only a shrinking place in which to put all the junk. Re: debt, the piper is in the foyer, ready to be paid. The Chinese are increasingly using oil to fuel their factories to make plastic Santas and lawn chairs for the rest of us to gleefully buy at the local Walmart. About the only thing the U.S is exporting now are raw materials, food and natural resources, much as when we were the 13 Colonies. But that's another subject.
How do we stay true to our biblical principles, be good stewards of our Lord's creation and have a solid, healthy economy? Any thoughts?
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
This is one I really enjoyed writing. My "political statement" at the end is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but hey, the basis for which I say "Gimme" is probably quite valid.
When one of the parents is home full-time, they should get some kind of tax break for being less of a drain on the environment. As a stay-at-home person, I am "green" in two different ways.
Firstly, a full-time homemaker, in my case, the wife, leaves a smaller carbon footprint, or at least has a great opportunity to do so. My car is not making the daily commute, and I'm not using up paper and other supplies at work, and using all the resources that go into providing liability insurance for me (that costs the company money that has to be made somehow, usually by using other resources, many of them natural).
I have no problem wearing a few hand-me-down pieces of clothing. I just think of them as vintage and since I am a bit eccentric anyways, find it kind of amusing to dress a little funny sometimes.
My political statement: I think my homey, green ways are red, white, and blue, and that Nancy and the boys should throw a little paper green my way.
A well-meaning friend e-mailed me the following:
"Please join me in congratulating the new Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, on being the first woman, and mother, to hold this position of power. And in thanking Speaker Pelosi for acknowledging the importance of family and children in her opening speech, and also for sending clear message of support by sharing her shining moment in the spotlight in a crowd of young children.
Let's make sure Speaker Pelosi knows that when she works for our children and families we'll back her every step of the way!
*To sign the virtual card, go to: http://www.democracyinaction.org/dia/organizationsORG/momsrising/signUp.jsp?key=1884
Way to go, Speaker Pelosi! We have your back!
---MomsRising will deliver the thank you card, along with a MomsRising necklace, with appropriate fanfare and children!---
*MomsRising.org (http://www.momsrising.org) is working to build a massive grassroots movement big enough to impact the outcome of the 2008 elections and beyond. The time has come to break the logjam that's been holding back family-friendly legislation for decades. It's going to take all of us--and then some--working together to get there. "
I did three things. First, I checked out the website, which seems to be a feminist-empowerment type of place advocating political militancy in demanding socialist-type legislation that is very pro-work for mothers, institutionalized childcare and other entitlements which I find actually detrimental to women and children. I then registered for their forums and posted two entries.
Here is the first one, which contains many familiar ideas of mine and others whom I respect:
Now, concerning the ideas posited on this website, I guess I just take a different approach to empowering women and helping children and can only speak concretely from the truth of my own experience. That is always the best thing, though, to talk about what you really know.
I had five children and was a stay at home mother and wife to a sailor who only attained the rank of E-6 (enlisted, grade 6 out of 9). He was making about 32K in 1993 when the fifth was born. The ladies I hired to help with housework, however, were married to E-7's or above. I will be explaining how I could afford that.
My jobs prior to having children were as a secretary or waitress. These were (and mostly still are) considered women's jobs and did not pay all that well. I have only my Drama degree to thank for that! I did, however, save and make some money through the allotment of a small portion of my secretary’s salary being invested into stocks each week. This went on for about two years. The sale of these stocks formed part of the down payment on our first house. My mother and father, themselves from the lower middle-class (with a 6th and 10th grade education) but always living within their means and saving a little, were able to help us with the down payment as well. I hope to be able to help our own children in this way with their starter home. It is a time-worn and honorable thing. If we hadn’t had this help we would have stayed in as nice an apartment as we could afford.
I believe I was able to stay home and take care of my children and my home (ultimately someone does have to do this, whether its you or you hire someone), because we stayed married, didn’t have credit debt, each learned skills like car maintenance, coupon cutting, making good garden dirt from kitchen scraps, cooking wholesome meals from scratch, going to the library, doing our own home repairs, maintenance and the like, and we didn't drink, gamble, or get many of the toys that other adults were getting, and were also willing to wear hand-me-down clothes. In other words, in many ways, we used restraint. I'm sure that would be unattractive to many people, but it enabled me to be the ruler of my home and full-time mother of my children. I also didn't have to pay for gas and upkeep of a reliable second car, buy work clothes, buy lunches out, or buy processed or restaurant food at night because of being too tired from work to come home and cook. Of course not having to pay for daycare saved us a ridiculous amount of money.
We didn't ask anyone to pay us more, or expect others to pay more in taxes in order to subsidize daycare and after school programs for our children. I could have qualified for WIC but I didn't really feel I needed to pursue it. Each child always had one good pair of shoes that fit and all the milk they wanted. They were also never bored because they had each other and I was there to let them build forts and otherwise tear up the backyard, haul junk out of the garage to make “stores” and “towns” with, get crazy dirty and generally horrify our properly suburban neighbors. Another big difference between us and our neighbors, some of whom worked two jobs apiece, was that on the neighborhood yard sale days, their front lawns looked like department store show rooms while we had little or nothing to sell. I didn’t work to afford stuff to try and get rid of at yard sales.
I think that businesses exist to provide goods and services to customers and provide salaries, benefits to their employees and a profit for their owners and/or stockholders. They are always competing with other businesses in order to survive to keep paying themselves and their employees. I know that the two times when I did have to work for short periods were times when I was constantly being distracted by needs at home and was not able to be as efficient or productive as I was when I was single or just married. Why would I expect employers to just jump at the chance to hire and keep me? (And it really doesn’t matter what the reason might be why one is not as efficient and productive. If I was single and partying so much that it was interfering with my work, I would not be valued as much as the person who stayed home at night and went to bed on time.) You would feel the same way if you had to hire someone to baby-sit your kids; all other things being equal, would you want the person who was fresh from a good night’s sleep, and for whom the babysitting job was their one priority, or would you go with the one who had two full-time jobs, and who would come to your house after they had put in a full day looking after someone else’s house and children?
We made sure not to become dependent on my salary and I made it my business to get back home as soon as the crisis was over. Also, anybody who works is in submission to their boss, and their bosses on up the chain as well as stockholders, customers, and the bottom line. I thought modern women must submit to NO ONE!
I believe in helping those less fortunate, and am all for Medicaid, but I have honestly seen so many people who cannot afford health insurance but can afford many or all of the following: cable TV (which we never had for the first 21 years of our marriage), cell phones, Internet access, video game systems, lottery tickets, Nike sneakers, designer clothes, expensive cars, other electronic toys, booze and cigarettes. I know a girl who was trying to talk a couple out of entering the abortion clinic to abort their child. The couple stated that they really didn't want to do it but that they couldn't afford another child. When the counselors told them there was help for them and gave them a toll-free number to call, the man whipped out his CELL PHONE and made the call. This incident happened several years ago, before absolutely everyone had a cell phone. But that man did.
Yes, this might sound judgmental but these are all facts. We need to teach our girls to be wise and sensible about whom they decide to have children with. If people want to be pro-choice, then for God's sake, let’s be a little choosier about the man with whom we do that which makes motherhood possible. Take your time, do all you can to find the right partner, get married and try to stay that way. Marriage is a big deal to the prosperity and overall well-being of women and children. Look at the stats. Divorce makes everybody poorer, although I would be the first to say that divorce is sometimes necessary. That is where the church, the extended family and other helps should come in, and where it might be wise to for a woman to consider some kind of home business. Also, we could stand to get those old patriarchal ideals back when it comes to legally forcing a man to take care of his wife (alimony and insurance coverage as well as child-support) if he leaves her, instead of the free-wheeling no-fault crap that's in place now. That would be a really good place to get “political”.
If there is someone out there reading this who wouldn’t mind sleeping in thrift store pajamas if she could stay in them till noon if the mood struck, or would like to explore the possibility of enjoying Saturday and Sunday instead of using the weekend to catch up on all the housework and bills and laundry and shopping, then please know that you can probably do it without Nancy Pelosi’s help. If you would rather be the Queen of your home than Speaker of the House, then take a good, honest look at your situation and start learning about becoming more self-sufficient. Just do a web search on living on one income.
You can try to depend on the government or other people so that you don’t have to eat lentils, or you can eat lentils so that you don’t have to depend on anyone.