Tuesday, September 22, 2020

First Day of Fall


"Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf,
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day
Nothing gold can stay."
Robert Frost, 1923

Fall is my favorite season, and I'm so looking forward to celebrating here up north.  We've noticed that we have a maple tree in our front yard, so we are definitely looking forward to the leaves changing color, the cooler weather, the crispness in the air.  It already has started to feel like fall, and I am all in for it.  

We're going to seek out corn mazes, covered bridges, hayrides and the like.  We're going to celebrate this season in our new environment. 

I hope you are able to do the same.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Mitchuation Update: Off the Road, Again

Thankfully.

We're back home from a flying trip to Texas for the wedding.  It was great to see family and to spend time with them.  To see friends at the wedding and take a part.  The only downside there is that everything moved too quickly.

The part that I do not miss is the drive.  I am so glad that is behind us and that we will not be making a substantial drive again for a while.  We did both legs straight: 14 hours going, 13.5 coming back.  Add in losing an hour yesterday coming back home and we're a family of just plain worn out people.

I've told Jamie I think I'm getting too old for that long in a car.  Especially, as I'm not one who gets to sprawl out in the back seat anymore.  We were near loaded to the brim both ways, so everyone stayed in their seat.  I only got to swap back and forth from driver to passenger seat, and neither really allows one to stretch out at all.

My back can't take it and I'm definitely looking forward to the chiropractor this week.

The next trip back I think we are flying.  And then Christmas, I think I've convinced her to break up the return trip at least. 

It's funny how we change.  I'm one who has made more 4-5 hour trips in the car than I can count.  Went home from Austin to Buna a lot.  Went from Baylor to Buna a lot.  Went from Wills Point to Buna and to Austin.  And while those could start wearing on you, I could generally keep up.

I loved long road trips as well.  We generally could spread out, just the three kids.  Taking turns as to who got the back row all to themselves to lay down and spread out.

I understand now why those were not as fun for Mom and Dad.  Driving or just being a passenger in the front seat does not carry near the fascination.

At any rate, we're back home for a while.  Next month, family is coming our direction, so we'll look forward to having them here and showing them around.

Posts should pick up a bit more regularly, including one this week about why it is so hard to write in 2020.

Hope you are all having a great start to the week.

As always, thank you for reading.


Sunday, September 20, 2020

Officiant

Yesterday marked a personal first - I performed my first wedding ceremony.  One of Jamie's students, and the daughter of her best friend, had requested that I officiate her wedding.  She made the request over a year ago, while we still lived in Texas.  I was to officiate, Avalyn was to be the flower girl, and Jude was to carry a sign.  Much has changed over this past year, but this request remained, only Jude got upgraded to ring bearer.  

It is for this reason I recently got ordained by the Universal Life Church.  Non-denominational online church primarily designed for ordaining wedding officiants.  Ideally, I would have found a way to be ordained through our denomination.  I have been ordained as a deacon a couple of churches ago, and have filled in giving a message a couple of times, but am not ordained as a minister.  This at least got me legal as an officiant.

Last night was a beautiful ceremony.  For my part, I was short and sweet, keeping my thoughts/message very brief, and moving right into the vital parts of the ceremony.  Having Jude and Avalyn a part of the ceremony made it an even more special night for our family.

I don't know when I'll ever put this to use again.  I don't see when I'll be asked, especially with the now near 12 hour distance between us and most family and friends.  But for a once in a lifetime opportunity, it was pretty special.

Congratulations John and Ashlyn!  Many blessings on you as you continue forward in your marriage! 

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Talk Like A Pirate Day

In honor of National Talk Like a Pirate Day, a bit of poetry, from Robert Louis Stevenson.


Three of us afloat in the meadow by the swing,
Three of us aboard in the basket on the lea.
Winds are in the air, they are blowing in the spring,
And waves are on the meadow like the waves there are at sea.


Where shall we adventure, to-day that we're afloat,
Wary of the weather and steering by a star?
Shall it be to Africa, a-steering of the boat,
To Providence, or Babylon, or off to Malabar?


Hi! but here's a squadron a-rowing on the sea—
Cattle on the meadow a-charging with a roar!
Quick, and we'll escape them, they're as mad as they can be,
The wicket is the harbour and the garden is the shore.

Pirate Story, Robert Louis Stevenson


A fun and silly holiday to divert our attention from the doom and gloom that seems to be this year.  Hope you get to enjoy today however you talk, and drink up me hearties yo-ho!

Friday, September 18, 2020

RBG


"Women belong in all the places where decisions are being made. ... It shouldn't be that women are the exception."

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away today at the age of 87.  An iconoclast, she remained a vital advocate for gender equality and women's rights right up to her passing. It is not a stretch to say her advocacy and legal career created the framework for modern gender discrimination law.  Her tireless work as an attorney for the ACLU and as a judge and Supreme Court justice, only the second woman nominated to the Supreme Court, remain a bedrock foundation in this area.  

The work is really what saved me, because I had to concentrate on reading the briefs, doing a draft of an opinion, and I knew it had to get done. So I had to get past whatever my aches and pains were just to do the job.”

Ginsburg had been fighting pancreatic cancer for a long time.  Despite this diagnosis, she remained determined to be active on the court.  When Justice John Paul Stevens retired in 2010, Ginsburg became the oldest serving Supreme Court Justice on the court.  She wore that distinction with pride, hoping to emulate Justice Brandeis, with nearly 23 years on the court, and Justice Stevens, with nearly 35 years on the court.  Her tenure provided her 27 years on the court, and made her the fourth longest serving justice of all time.

If we follow the precedent set in 2016 with Merrick Garland, no nominee should be named to fill Ginsburg's vacancy on the Supreme Court until after the election.  President Obama had nominated Garland in March 2016, but the Senate refused to hear the nomination, arguing that the next elected president should fill the vacancy.  It was too close to the election.  With it being mid-September and the election at the very beginning of November, surely the Republican party will have the integrity to maintain the same position this year? Sadly, it doesn't look like it.

It will fall to the millions of people Notorious RBG has inspired to keep up the fight.  It looks like it will continue to be a long one.

"People ask me sometimes...'When will there be enough women on the court?'

And my answer is: 'when there are nine.'"



Monday, September 14, 2020

Psalm 51

 “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; build up the walls of Jerusalem; then will you delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar.

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭51:1-19‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I’ve been reading through the Psalms with Avalyn each time it’s my night to get her to sleep. This evening we got to Psalm 51, which has become one of my favorites over the years. This dates back to undergraduate where I was part of the choir at First Baptist Georgetown and we would sing a beautiful choral arrangement of this piece. When I read it, I still go through the vocal arrangement of the song, not necessarily the written words in the Bible. 

There are so many portions of this passage that get referenced and rightly so. What keeps jumping out to me now, though, is less taught. Less focused on, at least from my reflection. 

Verse 16 seems to perfectly encapsulate one of the great struggles that we have in our lives. “For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;”. A recognition of that pattern where we have tried to bargain with God to let us feel right with him, but still keep doing what we want. “All I have to do is just bring a sacrifice to the altar and then I can do what I want. I don’t have to change anything else.”  David recognizes this pattern we can get into of wanting to do something for our salvation, wanting to do something to feel better about our lives, but not being willing to make the change that God really wants. Because the truth is that a physical sacrifice could be less costly. But rather,  “You do not delight in burnt offering.” 

That is not what God wants from us. What God wants is much more costly. It costs us everything. For us to recognize how broken we are, to admit how broken we are, and to ask him, to allow him to fix it. That is subsequently the sacrifice of least physical value and most taxing cost. 

We get this reminder throughout scripture. “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”  This verse quoted by Jesus is another of my favorites. Part of that idea that while we are to be working out our salvation and participating in good works, that is not ultimately what God desires of us. He desires our humility, he desires us to be loving, he desires us to be merciful. For these are the qualities that He has displayed to us. 

It’s a good reminder both for when I get too overwhelmed I’m doing things for God and for when I get too caught up in myself, trying to keep doing things my own way. 

Purge me, wash me, restore my joy. 

Friday, September 11, 2020

9-11 - And There Came A Day

 "A day there was of monumental villainy.  A day when a great nation lost its innocence and naked evil stood revealed before a stunned and shattered world.

A day there was when a serpent struck a sleeping giant, a giant who will sleep no more.  Soon shall the serpent know the wrath of the might, the vengeance of the the just.

A day there was when Liberty lost her heart - and found the strength within her soul."

Stan Lee


" 'And There Came a Day, A Day Unlike Any Other...'

'when Earth's mightiest heroes found themselves united against a common threat.'

Those words were originally written about the Avengers, a band of fictional heroes battling fictional foes.  But they apply as well to the harrowing events of September 11, 2001, and to the men and women who responded to those events.

The firefighters, police, and emergency workers who plunged into danger to aid the trapped and injured.

The rescue personnel of other cities, other states, who came without being called - some who drove all night to come to New York and do what they could.

The ordinary citizens who dropped everything to walk to the site and offer their help.  So great was the turnout that in the end, volunteers were turned away.  There were too many - too many men and women lining up to risk their lives to aid their fellow man.

New York journalist Katie Roiphe may have put it best when she wrote, simply, 'We also have men who are wiling to die for an idea.'

To those who came, those who helped, those who died trying to save others: We thank you. We honor you. We will never forget your heroism."

Kurt Busiek