Sunday, April 29, 2007

I luve you

This picture was hand drawn with love by my grandson Micah. When I visited Spokane a few weeks ago, we spent the evening talking with all the family. We talked about grades, girls, videos in production, musical talents, acting aspirations, and a host of other things. Somehow the youngest child can sometimes be left out, especially if you are seven. Micah is seven; and while I was doting on all the older kids achievements, Micah was busy drawing me a picture with little hands of love. No fanfare, no accolades, and really no attention, he folded it up, and on the outside wrote, "To Pope Frad and gramdma, to you to, frum Micah, luv bug. and under a sketch he wrote "tuday I didd this".
Then he put it on the desk and at some point said he drew a picture for me. In the rush of things I glanced at it, thanked him, and then put it in my coat pocket. About two weeks later, I put on the coat and in the pocket found the folded picture in my pocket. I opened it up and realized it was a budding artists full page work with I love you on it.
Buried treasure, right there in my coat pocket. Thank you Micah, and I luuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuv you too!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Young Love

This piece is written for my teen grandchildren--

Falling In Love

Young love; it is a powerful, emotional, almost drug-like experience. There is no wonder why it takes so many young people captive. I read an article where a young woman spoke of her infatuation for a teacher; I’ll include it because she does a far better job of explaining young love than I can.

“I had never felt anything like it before. I could not get Mr. McArthur out of my mind. I was anxious; I gnawed at the lining of my cheek until I tasted the tang of blood. School became at once terrifying and exhilarating. Would I see him in the hallway? In the cafeteria? I hoped.
But when my wishes were granted, and I got a glimpse of my man, it satisfied nothing; it only inflamed me all the more. Had he looked at me? Why had he not looked at me? When would I see him again?
At home I looked him up in the phone book; I rang him, this in a time before caller ID. He answered……”

Of course it did not realize itself, and sadly, young love never ends up with a happy ending. But the emotions are real, powerful, and literally are, a natural chemically produced high. Our brain opens up the door to serotonin and dopamine, truly a ‘love potion’ that creates intense energy, exhilaration, focused attention, and motivation. It is why, when you are newly in love, you can stay up all night, watch the sun rise, run a race, ski fast down a slope ordinarily too steep for your skill.
Love makes you bold, makes you bright, makes you run real risks, which sometimes you survive, and sometimes you don’t.
Because it is so intense, you want it to last forever, you tell your lover it will last forever, eternally; “I’d do anything for you” is said in complete honesty.
But, “scientists are discovering that the cocktail of brain chemicals that sparks romance is totally different from the blend that fosters long-term attachment.”

And, forever is a very long time for a teen.

The airways are filled with songs of broken hearts. They sell millions of albums because millions of people relate and nurse their broken dreams in the flood of music. I was listening to a couple of old Mariah Carey songs that speak too many of the issues of young love. The first song is called “If It’s Over”.

If It’s over

Wont you talk to me
This is so out of hand
Something’s gone wrong
With the life that we planned

Won’t you look at me
You’re avoiding my gaze
And it seems like you’ve changed
In so many ways

It isn’t fair
It isn’t right
If it’s really gone
Then tell me tonight
If its over
If it’s over
Let me go

Won’t you speak to me
I’m just here holding on
‘Cause baby I really don’t need to wait around
If the feelings is gone

I don’t need no apologies
‘I’m not looking for no sympathy
All I’m asking for
Is for your honesty
Won’t you give it to me
Give it to me now
It isn’t fair
It just isn’t right
‘Cause if it’s really gone
You’ve got to say the word tonight
If it’s over
If it’s over
Baby if it’s over Won’t you let me know
Baby if it’s over
Over- let me go

This is such an emotionally charged song, “what has gone wrong?”
She begins with “won’t you talk to me”, such a familiar chord that has echoed in many a heart. The truth is young people are not experienced at speaking their heart, or truly knowing their heart. It is nearly impossible for a young man to face her question when the fickle passions begin to change and the young man has no understanding why, and if he did he would have no ability to express them.

The next line is “This is so out of hand”, this is the normal course of young love, it is not restrained, nor understood, emotions rule the relationship, the blood runs hot, then cold, then hot again and at warp speed. Conversation flows for hours then comes to a halt, becomes forced and insincere. Then a day later all is fine.
Truly- “out of hand”.

The next line is “something’s gone wrong with the life that we planned.”
Young love makes many plans, dreams, covenants that it is not equipped to follow through with. Because the passions are so deep, and the feelings so strong, it seems as though it will last forever and future plans are made when present emotions change.

The next line says
“Won’t you look at me
You’re avoiding my gaze.”
The feelings of ‘why’, are so prevalent. In most cases the intention was not to hurt the other, but the young emotions are so fleeting, changeable, like the weather, what once seemed all important one day, the next day he awakens with a change of heart that he can’t understand and finds it nearly impossible to face, so he “avoids her gaze.”

The chorus states—

It isn’t fair
It isn’t right
If it’s really gone
Then tell me tonight
If its over
If it’s over
Let me go

And it isn’t fair or right, but the feelings of love and infatuation begin to fade without notice or incident and then rise again and the young man is in a state of complete uncertainty. If he lets her go, will he wish he hadn’t?, if he stays, will this diminishing state overtake him completely and end up hating her. Of course the answer is, it will die, and that is the fate of young love.

In the next lines she is pleading for him to make things clear so she can make some kind of rational decision. She wants permanence, but if that can’t be, then at least give her honesty, either love her or cut it off now, the not knowing is unendurable.
The balance of the song is this pleading to know where she stands but sadly he is in a state of confusion and drags the inevitable on and on.

On the same album there is another song that continues other aspects of the same love drama.
“And you don’t remember”, is her question; but it isn’t a matter of memory, sadly when young dreams shatter so easily. It is a tragedy and her description of how her memories confine her head, is such an honest and realistic description of how we become obsessed with thoughts of love, and when it changes, for no logical reason, it is bitter. That is why rarely friendship remains after love.

Love requires trust and when we trust and feel like the person is trustworthy we open up our soul and often in our culture, our bodies. She said she believed his lies, and often they are simply a web of lies but more often there is a strong physical attraction and it may seem and feel deeper, so flattering words and loving actions come easy. It may very well feel like it is an eternal love, or certainly one that will last for a very long time. Affection, trust, needing each other causes a very deep bond. But, the reality is, these feelings can change overnight, and again, not intentionally, it has been said this way in an article on young love—

“Why doesn’t passionate love last? How is it possible to see a person as beautiful on Monday, and 364 days later, on another Monday, to see that beauty as bland? Surely the object of your affection could not have changed that much. She still has the same shaped eyes. Her voice has always had that husky sound, but now it grates on you – she sounds like she needs an antibiotic. Or maybe you’re the one who needs an antibiotic, because the partner you once loved and cherished and saw as though saturated with starlight, now feels more like a low-level infection, tiring you, sapping all your strength.”

Here are the entire lyrics to the song---

And You Don’t Remember

Shattered dreams
Cut through my mind
Tragically our love has died
Memories confine my head
Bitterly I face the end

I gave myself to you
I let you inside
Believing your lives
And you don’t remember
Every time you told me
You were mine forever
For eternity
And you don’t remember
How you used to hold me
How we melt together
How you needed me
How we used to be in love

Stranded here
In nothingness
With only tears
And loneliness

I gave my soul to you
I let you inside
Believing your lies

I fell so deep
I was naive
To let you in
Why did I let you in
To my heart
And you don’t remember
anything you told me
you were mine forever
for eternity
I know you don’t remember
How you used to hold me
How we’d melt together
How you needed me
How we used to be
In love.

I remember all the feelings she sings about -- feeling foolish, helpless, drenched in broken dreams, feeling naïve, believing lies, stranded in nothingness.

One kiss is too many, a thousand is not enough.
During our teen years our brain is still developing, and the last to form is the part that is able to assess risks.

So, I wrote this piece so you may be informed, make wise choices, and wait for the season when something as powerful as romantic love will have a realistic and wonderful outcome. Falling in love at the right time of life is God’s design and plan for most of us, and it is good, very good. But, like many of God’s blessings, we can take them at the wrong time of life, or the wrong place or with the wrong person and turn what was meant to be a blessing and corrupt it and make it a curse.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

As I called on God this morning being led by my thoughts and promptings, to pray for the families of Virginia Tech, I found myself asking what to pray, and the thought came to me that in God’s great mercy, even the unbeliever has a hope.
God has carefully designed us that when great loss falls on us, he has knitted us with such care that we will recover. We will not grieve forever, though the grieving pierces us to the marrow, tears are food for who knows how long, and I have known some great sorrows, which lie embedded deep within, and no doubt will be with me till the end. That being said, as the parents and grandparents with siblings and children of the lost, awaken this day, maybe the first day that the numbness of the tragedy begins to lift, and the full view of the loss becomes more apparent, the halls and rooms are now empty; no more silly laughter, no more pouts and fits, silence fill their rooms, no more bed left unmade, no more music peculiar to the loved one, no more evening talks or brief chats. It is a season of deepest anguish for the bereaved and but for the mercies of God, life would cease to have meaning.
But there is an abiding friend whose shoulder they can weep on, a sibling who comforts without words, a spouse to stare into nothingness with. Family and friends, though they cannot begin to stop the pain, they make it endurable and give some sliver of hope and comfort to go on.
Many of the victims were young men, cut down in the prime of their life. Stories about each young man are posted on the net by friends that want to share how valuable they were; and are. Young men of vision, dreams and purpose, and I doubt there is one I would not have rejoiced to have known. Young women too, full of sass, brimming with enthusiasm for life and its adventures, goals ahead, unlimited faith and hope.
I can hear the halls and homes where they trod, a riot of emotion, passions and fun.
There were fathers and mothers lost; young men and old forever stilled by this senseless action. Some were Christians and some were not. The families of both will be loved and encouraged by local congregations, no question, those that cling to Christ in there desperation will have the resources of heaven, the comfort of Angels, the presence of God to strengthen, and other believers rushing to help carry the burden, and the prayers of saints from the world over to aid all those that grieve.
Let me do my part.

Four ears

Paul exhorts, “Try all things, and retain that which is good.”
From every sect and community of Christians take any thing that is good, that advances holy religion and the divine honor. For one hath a better government, a second a better confession, a third hath excellent spiritual arts for the conduct of souls, a fourth hath fewer errors; and by what instrument soever a holy life is advantaged, use that, though thou grindest thy spears and arrows at the forges of the Philistines; knowing thou hast no master but Christ, no religion but the Christian, no rule but the scriptures, and the laws, and right reason; other things that are helps are to be used accordingly.
Be wise in choosing our company, reserved and wary in our friendships, and unreserved in our charity; that we never do a thing we know we must repent of; that we do not admire too many things, nor any thing too much.
And according to the proverb, always listen to him who, “hath four ears, - reason, religion, wisdom, and experience;”
to stop the beginnings of evil, to pardon and not to observe all the faults of friends or enemies; of evils to choose the least, and of goods to choose the greatest, if it be also safest;

ever to be thankful for benefits, and profitable to others, and useful in all that we can.
If we observe these things, we shall do advantage to ourselves and to the religion; and avoid those evils which fools and unwary people suffer for nothing, dying or bleeding without cause and without pity.

Friday, April 20, 2007

In the aftermath of Virginia Tech, I found myself asking, ‘what can be done in our society to prevent a tragedy like this?’ and then in my reading I came across the following passage and in light of the massacre and my overall palsied prayer life, I lowered my head in shame.

“Often we come to God because it is civil to do so, and a general custom, but neither drawn thither by love, nor pinched by spiritual necessities and piercing apprehensions; we say so many prayers because we are resolved so to do, and we pass through them sometimes with little attention, sometimes with none at all; and can we think that the grace of chastity can be obtained at such a purchase? Can we expect that our sins should be washed away by a lazy prayer? Can an indifferent prayer quench the flames of hell, or rescue us from eternal sorrow? Is lust so soon overcome that the very naming of it can master it? Is the devil so slight and easy an enemy that he will fly from us at the first word spoken without power or vehemence? Read and attend to the prayers of the saints.
“I cried day and night before thee, O Lord;” “my soul refused comfort;” “my throat is dry with calling upon my God,” “my knees are weak through fasting;” and, “I will not let thee go until thou hast blessed me,” said Jacob to the angel.
Now we know every prayer we make is considered by God and recorded in heaven; but cold prayers are not put into the account in order to effect and acceptation, but are laid aside like the buds of roses which a cold wind hath nipped into death.” Jeremy Taylor

After reading this I asked myself, 'do I think the saving grace for our country can be obtained with prayers such as mine'? 'Can I expect that the sins of America will be lessened by my lazy prayers'? 'Can my indifferent prayers send a protective covering over our land or my home'? 'Will the lustful morality of our culture be deterred by my infrequent requests'? Will the families of Virginia Tech be comforted by my prayers? Or yours?

Monday, April 16, 2007

Virginia Tech................. There are no words.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Condemned to the couch

I have run across this picture a number of times over the years and it always impacts me. The boy has two paths, the picture shows the results of both. We reap what we sow and this is a graphic way of illustrating it. It reminds me of the following piece I read years ago and now at sixty, and paying for the follies of the past, it has a bitter sting.

Health is, indeed so necessary to all the duties as well as pleasures of life, that the crime of squandering it is equal to the folly; and he that for a short gratification brings weakness and diseases upon himself, and for the pleasure of a few years passed in the tumults of diversion and clamors of merriment, condemns the maturer and more experienced part of his life to the chamber and the couch, may be justly reproached, not only as a spendthrift of his happiness, but as a robber of the public; as a wretch that has voluntarily disqualified himself for the business of his station, and refused that part which providence assigns him in the general task of human nature.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Blood Diamond

I watched "Blood Diamond" last night.
It is a true story about the work a journalist did in South Africa, that brought an end to the horrific warring, slavery and use of children for soldiers. It is like watching the "R" rated version of "Invisible Children". It is nearly as violent as real life; it is disturbing, it is heart wrenching, it is
Jennifer Connelly, 'be still my heart', plays the journalist, the person who "gives a ___" as she puts it in the film. Leonardo Di Caprio plays the diamond smuggler and DJimon Hounsou plays the victim fighting for his family. The acting is great. Leonardo is excellent, really they all are.
Once again the power and influence of the journalist's camera brings the images that personalize remote situations. Without it, one wonders if change would ever come.
The movie is intense, graphic and disturbing; it shows the horrors of real life, and like real life, will shock you. I think they did a great job resisting the temptation to bring in typical Hollyweird sexuality, it seems to be a serious effort to shed light on a story that needs to be told. Many humanitarian organizations endorsed the film. It's rated R for violence and language and I think it would be too disturbing for children under 18, even in today's culture.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

"Live a life of love"

Art, I so love art. If it is something that my eye considers beautiful it immediately begins a thought process; what is the artist trying to convey, what are the feelings I’m experiencing? What story or person do I project into the picture?
God, through this life, has made me sensitive to those in distress or sorrow. So a theme that portrays sorrow immediately gains my full attention. If it is a Christian or religious theme, I again am drawn to it. If it is a sculpture of beauty or great detail it draws me even deeper.
This picture brings so many thoughts to mind. For me Christianity is most nobly illustrated when compassion and faith are portrayed. I ran across a scripture in Hebrews in the hall of faith, chapter11:35 it says “Through faith, women received back their dead, raised to life again”. God has graced all mankind with a fervent, devotion to those we love; whether family member, friend or at times stranger.
It has been demonstrated by the pure love of a mother, to heroes of faith and compassion throughout history.
I see in this woman tenderness, with her face intimately close to the sufferer; who could represent Florence Nightingale and the many wounded and dying soldiers that were graced by her caring cheek and soft assuring voice of love.
It could be the mother whose child is being nursed with love, faith, and hope of a resurrection to health, or a bidding farewell to a greater resurrection.
I see Mother Teresa, and her inspired love, ministering as though this were Christ in her arms.
Innocence, (holiness in its grandest form), compassion and acts of mercy make up the most important part of Christianity to me, let all the rest be forgotten, if this is lived, God will be glorified and ever sought after.
“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love……
Ephesians 5:1