Archive / August, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mamma!

Yesterday, August 29, was my mother’s 84th birthday. Without a doubt, she is one of the most amazing women I know. In spite of her age, her macular degeneration, and the usual aches and pains that accompany aging, she lives independently in a condo. (It’s located about 20 minutes from where my sister lives; the rest of us live in other states.) Still, whenever I’ve suggested Mom should sell her place and move in with one of her offspring (me!), she demurs. She really enjoys her independence!

Macular Degeneration has slowed Mom down, but she still uses the computer and occasionally drives (for the moment). I know it’s going to be hard on her when and if she has to stop driving, but she’s a realist and recognizes that day may come sooner than she’d like.

We’re going to a school reunion this Fall in her home town of Philadelphia. Likely, she’ll be the oldest attendee. Back in 2007, we journeyed there and it was as wonderful a trip for me as for her. I’d imagined her childhood, acknowledging how frightening it must have been for her to be shipped off to a school for fatherless girls when she was only six years old.

But seeing it, standing in the room where she laid her head every night and wandering the spacious campus … these things gave me a sense of how splendidly God had provided for my mom to be educated and nurtured, when her own daddy was unable, having passed on to his reward.

See that smile on her face? She’s almost always like that. She tackles every challenge with determination and an almost inexhaustible vitality. She’s a great role model! Happy Birthday, dear Mom. Hope you live to be at least 100!

TCO: Stepping Into a New World

My eldest grandson went to college today. He drove himself to the campus (about 30 miles away) but, uncertain the school would permit him to stay, he left all his belongings here at our home where he’s lived this past year.

A recent Eagle Scout, he earned two academic scholarships and will assume a student loan, but those won’t be enough to cover his expenses. The financial aid people suggested his parents could obtain an additional loan (to cover the difference), but because he’s “on his own” that loan is impossible. This boy, transitioning to manhood, is learning one of the hard lessons of adulthood:  finances can be a tricky thing.

He told us he believes God wants him at this university and he’s stepping forward in faith God will provide the funds. He’s animated, excited and energized, eager for the new challenges he sees before him.

He’s also subdued (scared, in fact) by the prospect it could all be yanked out of his grasp if the finances aren’t forthcoming and the school decides not to work with him on it. (He’s already committed to working 30 hours a week while he’s attending school, plus they’ve signed him up for a school work/study program.) Continue Reading →

The Mission / End of the Spear

Okay, we’re digging deep here with The Mission … a 1986 film? Were there no available flicks from the modern era? This is a “Special Edition” of the remarkable film. It’s long (125 minutes without the Bonus Material DVD), but the cinematography is superb, and with its historically-based plot and another Ennio Morricone score, I enjoyed the movie!

The film has its weaknesses. Initially, two stories are presented in point/counterpoint. There’s Father Gabriel, the saintly priest played by Jeremy Irons. There’s Rodrigo Mendoza, the mercenary and “sinner” played by Robert DeNiro.

For my part, I wanted to care deeply for these men, but except for the scenes where each man is tested physically (and you briefly sense their passion), the story advances too quickly. (It must! The clash of civilizations awaits!)

As a slice of mid-18th century history, the film provides a backdrop of politics and religion run amok (not so different than today, I mused). Father Gabriel and acolyte Mendoza focus on their mission, to establish caring relationships with an indigenous people group (the Guarani), to teach the people to work and live harmoniously and to worship God. Continue Reading →

Conversational Apartheid

Whenever I told my Mama so-and-so had permission to go/do/wear something, Mama’s response usually started with something like:  “If all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you?” She had no appreciation for polls, and for the most part, I’ve inherited that trait.

Nevertheless, the following poll caught my attention. Is swearing ever appropriate? Coming from the Christian publication, Christianity Today, I’ll accept CT posed their “provocative” question to drive traffic and discussion. Since only 164 votes were cast, though, I wonder how much discussion actually resulted. Continue Reading →

“Freedom Has Never Been So Fragile”

Yesterday, I identified a point of agreement between myself and President Obama. Truthfully, there are probably very few things on which we would see eye-to-eye. But when Obama characterizes our present situation as a “mess,” I concur. I’m also reminded of another President who had a “mess” on his hands, but he handled it capably and our country was better for having had him in the White House.

Of course, his name was Ronald Reagan. He had confidence in the conservative message and he advanced it whenever possible. He was a man who stood on principle. (No, he wasn’t perfect; no one is.)

Because he believed in American exceptionalism, Reagan spent many years warning Americans about the evils of Communism. He also embraced a key Republican tenet:  reducing the size of government.

Many of Reagan’s speeches still have currency today. A Time For Choosing was delivered in October of 1964, during the final week of the ’64 presidential campaign pitting Lyndon Johnson against Barry Goldwater. Continue Reading →

I Agree With President Obama!

Watching television the other night, I heard a few excerpts from President Obama’s speech, given in Austin TX at a Democrat National Committee (DNC) Finance Event. Transcript of the entire speech may be viewed at the White House website here.

Toward the end of his speech, President Obama leveled complaints against his opposition; most specifically, he singled out the group Americans for Prosperity suggesting their members might be … cue the red flag … controlled by foreign interests or … cue more red flags … one of the “bigs” (oil, banks, insurance) boogie men.

He blamed a recent Supreme Court decision for allowing such organizations to proliferate. (Of course, he failed to mention this Supreme Court ruling is applicable to organizations on both sides of the political divide.) In concluding his remarks, President Obama identified what he called “the bottom line” by saying:  “… right now the choice is between whether we go back to those policies that got us into this mess, or we continue with the policies that are getting us out of this mess.” Continue Reading →

The ‘Sitka’ House

Revisiting my Movie Night post about our recent viewing of the Sandra Bullock/Ryan Reynolds flick, The Proposal, I neglected to mention the gorgeous setting. The House:  it should have been credited as part of the supporting cast.

My parents used to live in a cove off the Gulf of Mexico. I have friends who live a stone’s throw from a lake; these people drive vehicles (on highways) to reach their homes. And even though I don’t know anyone who travels by boat in order to arrive home, I can accept there are those folks as well.

But I have to say my imagination is piqued. The House would be spectacular, even if you didn’t have to take a boat to get there. You’ve got the water in front, the mountains and lighthouse behind and a pristine landscape that oozes peace and quiet. (What’s not to like?!) Plus, there’s something totally romantic and intriguing about motoring up to your home via a boat dock. What mystery awaits when you set foot on land? (It’s not the ordinariness I experience motoring up my drive and into the garage.) Continue Reading →

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