The Crooked Road to Learning

A few conversations I had this week has brought back experiences I have had with the educational system.  I was not a great student throughout all my years of education.  I don’t think I can even say I was a good student, because I wasn’t.  If I was a student today, I would probably be diagnosed with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder).  As a child in the classroom, my mind wandered—a lot!  I recall in the third grade watching the buffalo (really bison) out the window of my classroom.  No, I didn’t go to school during the pioneer days in the 1800’s, but I did go to school next door to Grants Farm in St. Louis, Missouri, where the wildlife roamed its property.

I don’t know why I couldn’t concentrate, but I know I was always daydreaming in class.  Part could be that I was one of the youngest in my class, having December 31 as the cutoff date for 5 year olds to kindergarten in the school district where I started my education.  It might have been good had I been held back a year, but that was not discussions in the schools in the 1950’s.  

I muddled my way through elementary school and junior high, and then on to high school.  I didn’t really study, and no one questioned it.  My dad came to America at age 10, and did not complete high school.  My mother, a first generation American, likewise did not go to high school.  Neither of them had any experience with what secondary education was.  My dad was a successful building contractor, and my mom was his office manager.  Both were very smart, and were business savvy.  I was never asked if I had homework.  No discussions were ever had about my educational future after high school.

I don’t think I really cracked a book open during my high school years.  Maybe I opened them to study for an exam or to do a required assignment.  It was the unspoken expectation in our family that we girls graduate high school, work in my parents’ office, then get married and stay home to raise children.  My senior year in high school I came to the realization that I did not want to work for my dad.  My friends were talking about going off to college, and I had no plans.  My grades were average, which is pretty good for one who does not study.  My last year of school, I took four courses to assure myself that I would graduate—clerical practice, bookkeeping, home economic III, and speech.  I carried a B average my senior year!  The one class I had to work in was speech, as we were taught how to prepare and deliver different kinds of speeches.  The first speech we had to deliver was a speech to influence, and I gave a speech on the dangers of smoking cigarettes.  I got an “A” on the speech and my teacher told me that I was a very influential speaker.  That was all I needed to hear, and I was motivated to work in that class because someone saw an ability in me of something I loved to do—talk!Invitation

I proceeded to the counselor’s office one day and told the counselor that I thought I wanted to go to college.  The counselor told me I was not college material.  I had not taken all the advanced courses my classmates had taken to prepare for college, it was doubtful that I could be successful in the college setting.  My desire NOT to work for my dad was greater than my desire to believe this counselor.  I enrolled in the local community college, and was accepted on academic probation.  I studied that first semester and removed myself off academic probation.  I had no clue why I was in college other than I wasn’t living at home working at a construction company office.  My major reflected that.  I selected sociology as my major because it did not require a foreign language or anything more than first level mathematics.  What a horrible reason to pick a major.  I muddled through those classes, which today I cannot even speak to—I minored in psychology, and I remember so much more from it because I found it much more interesting.  I couldn’t major in psychology because it required more of those harder courses, so I stuck with my major and minor.  My dad willingly paid for my college, but he was very clear that I had to do this in four years, so I muddled my way through, and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology with a minor in Psychology.  What I was going to do with this major is another story, and for another time.

Fast forward many years.  I was now a mother of four sons.  When my oldest was about 9, and the youngest about 3, my marriage had fallen apart.  Now I was a single mom with no money, working and highly stressed.  My kids, are in school, some doing better than others.  I was good at asking them if they have homework.  The oldest two never seemed to have any homework, and they never brought books home to study, and there was no online method to check.  Report cards showed the real truth—they also were not studying.

The question begs, “What happened with these kids in the future?  I have four sons, and none of them used the same path to adulthood.  Let’s take a look:

My first son took five years to get through high school to graduation.  His senior year, his younger brother decided to drop out of school.  Oh my!  I don’t know if things have changed since those days, but at age 16, one could decide to permanently sign themselves out of high school. I was in a panic, and foresaw a future of doom for him.  Now, son #1 bad gradesthought he might want to do the same, but he had only one semester until graduation.  I told him to hang in there.  If he graduated, I would give him a big party, and people who attend graduation parties bring gifts and usually the gifts were money.  (I will use any bribe to get him to stay)!  His eyes lit up.  Money did not come easy in our family at that time, and he chose to hang in.

Now as son #2 was dropping out, I had a great conversation with his high school principal.  Although this son was often in and out of the principal’s office, it also gave the principal time to get to know him.  Dr. Jones told me to make three rules for him.  The first was that he should not delay in getting his GED.  The second which he said was extremely important is that I require him to get a job.  He said most kids lose their way when they are allowed to just sit at home.  The third thing was that if he passed his GED, have him take one or two classes at the local community college.  I was rather surprised by this last one, but I went about following his advice.  I purchased a GED study guide at the local bookstore.  The book has a pretest in it, and it is a good way to see what areas he might be deficient to be able to pass the GED.  A friend of his also dropped out, so I offered to tutor them both toward taking their GED as soon as possible.  Once they took the pretest, I knew what subject matter I could bypass and help them in the areas they were weak.  I do not remember how long we did this, but it was in the following semester of school.  They both took the exam and passed!  I called the principal to give him the good news about my son, and he asked me the score on the GED.  I grabbed the paperwork sent, and read back the numerical score.  Upon hearing this he told me that the score was high enough to get accepted into the biggest state university.  He told me that he knew my son was bright and was learning in the classroom, but refused to let the teachers know.

Son #3 was a self-disciplined child his whole life.  I never had to ask about homework because I could observe daily his studying, and his grades reflected it.  By the time he hit middle school, he was being honored for his grades, and in high school, he was taking advanced credit classes.  Sometimes, we ignore signs of trouble when we see things going so well.  What I didn’t see was the stress level he was at, and how it was affecting him.  His senior year, he dropped a class, and was only taking the exact number of credits he need to have to graduate.  His GPA was high, and I thought all was well, until the week before graduation when I received a phone call that he had flunked one of his classes and did not have enough credits to walk with the class on graduation the following week. I was floored.  I had already sent out the graduation announcements and the invitations to the graduation party.  Once again, Dr. Jones knew exactly what to tell me.  He said that his GPA was really good.  He just needed an elective of anything to get credit.  His suggested he just take a simple home study course, and take the exam at the school, and he would have his graduation credits fulfilled by July and final transcripts could go out to college with no problem.  So that is what he did.  He and nine other students of the 100 who did not make graduation, had a mini graduation ceremony in early August.  It was actually the most fun and interesting graduation ceremony I have ever attended.

Son # 4 struggled with school also.  He like the oldest, was held back a year in his early elementary years.   He had to work to get passing grades.  In high school, he started playing sports, but found his place in choir, Madrigals (song and dance group), and drama club.  He was also active in Young Life on campus.  His is the only one who graduated in four years!

So what happened with their various methods of getting through high school?  The beginnings were rough for them all.  The first two started a band.  They were playing full time, and traveled the country, had an album, and a lot of radio play.  Recording companies were noticing, but then then whole Napster thing happened, and the recording industry took a step back for a while to ensure the safety of their copyrights.  Gasoline prices skyrocketed, and a traveling band decided to call it quits and find a different line of employment.  Fast forward several years and you find:

Son #1 living in San Francisco.  How did he get there?  He came up with an internet sensation that millionaires funded and required him to be in the silicone valley area.  A few years ago, he was honored by his high school as a distinguished alumni for his work in the ever growing high tech world.  Just last week, he was back in St. Louis and stopped at the school and talked with a group of kids who are high risk for dropping out.  He was there to encourage them to stick it out and graduate.  How did he grab their attention?  He showed on the screen one of his report cards that showed less than adequate grades.  He shared his struggles and his success in a world of technical designers and venture capitalists.

Son # 2 is currently the owns his own business that is “certified, focused, and committed to helping organizations succeed with Apple.” The company is “partnered with industry leaders and dedicated to providing innovative technology and services to strengthen and secure your organization. Apple empowers today’s modern workforce to do something truly great and we are passionate and prepared to help you succeed personally and professionally.”  That’s all quoted from his website because I don’t know how to explain what I don’t know.

Son # 3 waited until his 30’s to change his course of study, and graduated the top student in the business department at the the Pierre Laclede Honors College at the University of Missouri St. Louis (UMSL), and continued getting his CPA certification, and a Masters of Business degree.  He has struck out on his own with his accounting and business consulting firm.

Son #4 after getting his degree in Mass Media, decided St. Louis wasn’t the place to find employment.  He packed up his car and drove to California to see if he could find an opportunity there.  He was hired to a temp position at what was then the ABC Disney Cable Network, and 12 years later is still with the company now called Walt Disney Television, a division of The Walt Disney Company.  He has worked his way up in the technology of bringing Disney to us and others around the world.

All of them went by different paths.  All of them have had ups and downs, twists and turns in their lives.  Haven’t we all?

There are times I am speaking with parents who are agonizing over their children’s academic and other decisions.  I point out my four sons, and how they all did it differently, and none of them quite how I would have planned it for them.  My advice is to just love your children through the thick and thin.  They will mature and find their way.  We never learn from the easy stuff, so why do we think our children should?  

I wasn’t college material,  but I have a Masters of Business degree, and had a very successful career for years in Human Resources.  Some of my kids didn’t go to college, but found their passion and have been able to turn it into a successful career.  Some went to college and then later changed their focus.  How on earth do we know what to do in life when we are only 18 years old?  

However you perceive your past education, be it good or not so good, time changes things and we make the decisions what to do with it.  It’s not the grade on a piece of paper that makes us who we are.  I haven’t met a single person in my adulthood who asked my what my GPA was.  Thank goodness for that!

What I do know is that we continue to learn all our lives, and if we are honest, it’s what we do with those life lessons that is important.  I am extremely proud of how my sons, through their twists and turns, have a focus on their careers.  More importantly, is they have a focus on life.  They are loving husbands, dads, sons, sons-in-law, brothers-in-law, friends, and neighbors.  They are well functioning human beings.  They survived their mother’s (me) ups, downs, and sideways of life.  Our family is stronger for it.  My boys have each other’s backs.  

Would I have changed anything if I could?  As much as I want to say yes, in hindsight, I see that what we we have and are today, is a product of our trials of the past.  I guess I wish I could take hurt and sorrow from their lives, but I cannot, and we are all stronger because of it.

Don’t fret if your child seems to academically going sideways.  Encourage them to hang in there.  Pray for them.  Like it or not, God can change circumstances around something, and can help open their eyes to their beautiful lives and future.  Parents, it’s not over til it’s over.  I cannot guarantee that it will look the way you want it to look, but it might just look how it is supposed to look.  As Mark Twain once said, “I never let my schooling interfere with my education.”Mark Twain

Quilting — Piece by Piece

I realized the other day I was hitting a low.  Here I am sitting I sunny Arizona, while back in Missouri it is snowing and super cold.  I have a beautiful home here, and a mountain nothingto view right off my back yard.  Why am I feeling listless?  The project lady has no project!  Oh my!  I am not planning a holiday gathering or party of any kind, no one has called me for a get-together,  I’m not redecorating, I’m just sitting here with nothing to plan. 

I know, you are thinking, “how lovely, nothing to do.”  Yeah, that’s nice for me for a short while, and then I need something.  I decided it would be quilting.  It is something I can do, and put away if a social event comes up, because I am even more myself with social events.  A couple weeks ago I was invited to go with a cousin to a local quilt show.  That served two purposes for me—1) an event, a connection with people outside my home; and 2) trying to find some inspiration to make a quilt.

IMG_8838 2My biggest problem is that I am not a fan of traditional quilts.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to look at them.  I love seeing the beautiful work done, but they are not me.  I like different, and I like bold.  I am very tempted to make a “Labyrinth Walk” quilt.  It’s an optical illusion, and really interesting.  My cousin had the pattern in one of her quilt magazines, and I borrowed it, but the inspiration was still not there.  I think I need a bit more piecing practice before I tackle it.  I kept watching quilt videos.  One of my favorite places to watch on YouTube is the videos from the Missouri Star Quilt Company.  Don’t ask me why, having come from Missouri, I have not made a trip to Hamilton, MO to visit this “Disneyland” of quilt stores.  It is on my list for this summer.

I want to make quilt gifts for my family.  The problem is, my family is like me.  They like unique more modern styles, and should I make a quilt for their beds, or a lap quilt to cuddle under while watching TV or reading a good book?  What colors would they like?  I just kept watching videos.  Then one just popped up that caught my attention.  It was a IMG_1435simple straightforward quilt design, but bold colors, and one I think a particular person in my family may love.  It’s an odd size, so it doesn’t seem to be a bed quilt, but it also seems to be too large for a lap quilt.  I think it’s a size fits all—do anything you want with this quilt.

I started looking at fabric on line, but I like touching a looking at the colors in person.  This quilt will take a jellyroll, which is 2-1/2 strips of fabric (about 40 strips) rolled into a round circle like a jellyroll.  I went back and forth over what to do, and finally told Dennis I wanted to go to the local fabric store and see what they had.  Lo and behold, the jellyroll I was looking at online was sitting in this store.  Before I chickened out, and backed away from this project, I grabbed the jellyroll, and fabric for the background, and made my way to the checkout.  

It is a bold and brave step.  I have a very short resumes of quilts,  Back in the early 1970’s my sister and I took a quilting course at a local high school night class.  I made two quilts —  one for a twin bed, and one for a baby bed.  The twin quilt was for my son who was just two years old.  I was pregnant with my second child at the time.  I told myself I would make all my future children quilts.  Well, babies two, then three, then four showed up.  A few years after the last, I became a single mom.  I was way too busy to do anything extracurricular after working all day, and dealing with little ones all evening and on weekends. Quilting disappeared from my life completely, although I think my sister continued her quilting.

In 2013, I married Dennis, and we combined our households in mid-Missouri where he lived.  His wife, who had passed away, was a quilter.  There were quilts, fabric, and supplies, everywhere.  I knew these items were not mine, and we gave them to family members who would use them and enjoy them, but it made me start thinking about quilts again.  IMG_8449Two years later I was going to have a new grandson.  I wanted to make something special for him, but I did not have a lot of confidence of what to make.  I found a pattern for a transportation quilt that had crossed-stitch squares.  Nothing is easier than cross-stitching.  I decided to purchase this kit.  One of the things I loved about it was that I could do the hand sewing anywhere.  I even did the embroidery in the car on a trip to and from Spring Training of the St. Louis Cardinals in Jupiter, Florida.  I completed the squares, and realized that they weren’t all the same size.  That is no news to the quilting world, but was to me.  I found a local person who had a long arm IMG_0355quilting machine to complete my quilt, and she met with me and walked me through what I needed to do with these non-matching squares.  Thus, the quilt, was a success, and with the leftover fabric, Luke received a matching pillowcase, some bibs, and a “quiet” book.  I loved the project.

Then I was done.  Quilting was out of my mind, or so I thought.  A few months later, as I was reorganizing some storage shelves in our basement, I ran across a couple plastic bins of tee shirts.  I asked my husband what these were.  He said his previous wife was going to make their son a tee shirt quilt, but it never happened before she passed away.  I don’t know where it came from, but I told him, if I could learn how to do this, I would make his son the tee shirt quilt.  At that, Dennis told me to find where I could take a class to do that, and he would pay for the class and buy the materials necessary.  Off I went to find this class.  I did not realize that the class I found was not to make an ordinary tee shirt quilt, but would make one quite distinguished from those I had later seen.  That Christmas Blake received the quilt made with the tee shirts from his childhood, and through high school and college.  His life history was now part of a quilt.  And, now I had the bug.

I found a pattern online for a “Stained Glass” quilt, and bought the pattern and fabric.  I made the squares, and then they were put away, because I had other projects, like planning a 50th class reunion, having guests to our home in the country, and traveling.  In December of 2017, we decided to write a contract to have a 2nd home built in Arizona.  We would be closing on the home in June of 2018, and have it furnished to move in for the coming winter.  I came back to Missouri and realized I had this quilt I started, and it would work well as the quilt for our guest room.  I pulled everything out, and once again got working on another quilt.  This would be quilt #5 in my life.  It was completed and quilted in time for us to bring it with us last winter, and is sitting beautifully on our guest bed.

Now I need a project, and the next quilt materials are purchased.  I will work on it between any guests arriving, and any events we find to do here in Arizona.  During that time, I will try to learn what kind of quilts my family would like—I never made those quilts for my kids that I thought I was going to do back in the 70’s.  Who knows, I may  become a quilting queen, or maybe I may just do a couple and find a new project.  Time will tell.

My Current Project

The Innocence of Children

donutsThe other day I was reminded of the innocence of children.  Whenever I see donuts, I think of my oldest son.  My mom, his grandmother, had a donut addiction!  She also had one of the best donut shops, Danny’s Donuts, very close to her home.  Matthew loved the glazed donuts, and when he saw them, his eyes got even bigger than they were, and he would happily exclaim, “Blazed donuts!”  Nothing beats a good fluffy “blazed” donut!  Maybe because he is my 02/1977first child, I remember more stories of his innocence, like the time he came home from preschool and told me he “had to kiss Angie” that day.  He said it with all sincerity, and I asked him why, he “had to kiss Angie.”  His reply was because she looked sad.  It was said with total innocence, and I realize that we mothers scoop up our children in our arms when they are sad, and we smother them with love and kisses.  I still smile when I think of that story.

I was pretty innocent as a child.  I was the youngest of three girls, and my mom was very conservative.  I know of a few instances that I blurted out my innocence, and today, those memories still make me laugh.

The first one occurred when I was maybe eight or nine years old.  My mom was my Sunday School teacher.  That particular Sunday, the curriculum was the Ten 10CommCommandments.  I know I was aware of these 10 rules passed down from God through Moses to the Israelites, but I guess I never really thought yet about what they meant.  I do remember the Sunday that I raised my hand in class, and proceeded to ask my mother and Sunday school teacher, “What does adultery mean?”  There you go!  Around 1956, these topics were not openly talked about, at least in circles of my life.  There it was—asked in the open in front of the other children.  The only reason I remember this is that at the lunch table, my mom told my dad and sisters what I asked, and they all laughed.  I wasn’t sure why, but I realized I had asked something in public that wasn’t usually asked.  So, how did my mom answer that question?  This is the mom who had taught me the proper name of body parts, but told me not to use those words around my friends.  It was my friends’ parents who would teach them those words.  I don’t know the exact words she used in the answer, but it was pretty much like this, “It is when people pretend to be married when they are not.”  Or it was, “Doing things that married people only do, but they are not married.”  I didn’t know what those things she was referring to were, but the answer satisfied me for the time!

Moving on, my innocence still remained.  I was probably in the 6th grade.  This is the year girls start to blossom, and the questions whispered to each other at school was, “Are you wearing a bra yet?”  At that point in life, that was probably what we thought was the rite of passage to womanhood.  We lived in a mid-century ranch style home.  My mom did the laundry in the basement and would bring the baskets of laundry upstairs where she would fold and and stack the clothes on the kitchen table.  When she was finished, she would call us girls to take our stack of clothes to put away in our bedrooms.  That particular day, my sister, Judy, who was four years my senior, was helping fold the clothes.  I was watching.  She took out this little elastic thing and put in on her stack of clothes.  I had never seen a contraption like this.  It was a circle of elastic, with a plastic or metal hook on each side.  Yes, you guessed it.  It was a belt for holding a sanitary napkin.  I picked it up and asked her, “What is this?”  Of course, Judy must have remembered the rule of don’t tell until the parents tell, so she told me it was a contraption for when a bra strap broke.  I looked at her in bewilderment, and said, “Why don’t I have one of those?  I have a bra.”  Mom had recently bought me bras for the first time.  About a year later, I learned the real truth of that elastic contraption. 

libraryMy innocence continued into junior high.  It was either 7th or 8th grade.  I was in the school library for study hall.  I don’t think schools have study hall any longer—the hour of no class, but to do homework.  I was at the table with this other girl, whom I don’t remember, but I surely do remember the interaction!  All these magazines for women and teens had quizzes you could take, for whatever entertainment value they may be.  Classmate #1(the girl) asked classmate #2 (me) if I wanted to do the quiz.  Sure I did.  So she proceeded to ask me questions.  The questions must have revolved around boys and dating.  I don’t remember the questions, but I sure do remember the outcome.  As she completed scoring the test, she said, “You are a virgin.”  I didn’t know what that word meant.  I had only heard it in my household in relation to Mary, the mother of Jesus, so I thought her saying I was like Mary was sacrilegious.  So, I immediately blurted out, “NO!”  Her eyes got huge, and she said with this incredulous tone, “You’re not a virgin?”  I realized at that moment, although not sure what the definition of virgin was, I need to alter what I said!  I apologized and said I didn’t understand what she said, and agreed I was a virgin.  Good move, Andrea, because that was the correct and true answer.  

I am not sure that children today have the innocence we had in the 1950’s.  There is so much on television and the internet for them to learn way too quickly.  I have to laugh when I think how innocent I was as a youngster and a teen.  This was in the days where birdsbeesour parents taught us about the birds and the bees.  In fact, as sweet and innocent as my mom was, she did give me that information.  That is a car ride I will never forget.  As she explained the facts, she also told me that it was not nasty when this is done by a husband and wife.  I was in shock, because as a young innocent, that is how that sounds initially. 

A couple years before that conversation, my cousin, Patti, had come to St. Louis with her family, from their home in Phoenix.  She spent the night at our house, and as we were lying in bed, she told me about what some girls at her school had told her.  It was the birds and bees talk that our parents had not yet given us.  She asked me what I thought about it, and if it was true.  I was 9 months older than her, therefore in her eyes, wise and mature.  It was the weirdest thing I had ever heard of, and told her I was sure that information was wrong.  Ick!  Yes, we both agreed, and went peacefully to sleep! 

Looking back on my life, I had many hard times that can still evoke sad feelings, but when I think of these stories of innocence, they bring a smile to my face.  I am glad for my innocence.  I learned everything soon enough,  when I needed to to know, not before.

Love Wins!

I don’t want to turn on the television today.  The impeachment trial is going on, and once usaagain, both sides are giving their closing arguments.  It’s like a “He Said / She Said” argument.  Do you really know who to believe?  Why does one side want more witnesses?  I thought it was the job of the House of Representatives to do the investigation and call all the witnesses, kind of like a grand jury.  Is there enough evidence for a trial?  If so, take this evidence and go.  But, it seems that they want additional evidence over what they already gave.  Shouldn’t that have been done by them?  Okay, that’s one side of the argument.  The other side is why doesn’t the other side want to hear more?  What are they afraid of?  Why are they refusing to ask for more evidence?  Or is it a time thing–this will drag on and on, and neither side are going to get their points across to the other side anyway, and the senators may as well vote?

Well, I am not going to take sides in this whole thing.  It is a mess, and everyone is to blame.  STOP BICKERING!  

I know that as many people who hate our current president, there were as many who hated our past president.  Regardless, they are who God allowed as leaders of our country.  Now, why God allows this is another question.  Is it to teach us something we wouldn’t learn any other way?  Like touching a hot stove.  You can tell your child over and over again not to touch it because it will burn, but until the child touches something hot, they don’t get it.  Are we stubborn enough not to learn without harsh lessons?  I don’t know.

So, since we are all different, why can we not accept that people will also think differently?  Isn’t this why we have elections?  To find out who thinks differently, and who thinks the same?  I am really tired of the feeling that I must think just like someone diversity people conceptelse.  And, who is this someone else that I must think like?  I think it is the person who yells the loudest.  So, if I don’t think like them, am I a hater?  I don’t think so.  

Why am I afraid to share what I think with the general public?  Will you think I am too conservative?  Will you think I am too liberal?  Will you think I am in the middle with no opinions and willing to be swayed with the wind?  Does this really matter?

I am going to come out with a radical idea.  LOVE!  People throw that word around, but I love2don’t see it much on any side.  It seems they just love their opinion, and think other opinions are unlovable.  People are belittled for stating their opinions.  They are called names.  Some people lose their jobs.  Some people lose their friends and family.  For what?  Something that can change every four years?

As a Christ follower, truth comes from Scripture.  So, I am going to look at what it says about love.  I have been to a million weddings (okay, that’s an exaggeration) where the “Love Chapter” is read. 1 Corinthians 13 — but what is that chapter really saying about love?

Verses 1 through 3 tell what is NOT love:  

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 

So, if I am eloquent, and I can speak in many languages, and if I can be smart and understand all science and mathematics and understand the future, and I am faithful, and if I give myself to good causes and sacrifice myself, but I have no love, it means absolutely NOTHING,  

That begs the questions, so what is love then?  And this chapter of the Bible goes on to describe exactly what is love:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Verse four just rocks and describes what I don’t see going on.  Here is the list:

  • Patient and kind
  • Doesn’t envy or boast (no jealousy)
  • Not arrogant (not my ideas are loftier than yours)
  • Not rude
  • Does not insist on its own way (not “my way or the highway”)
  • Not irritable or resentful (not anger over differences)
  • Doesn’t celebrate wrongdoing
  • Celebrates truth
  • Puts up with all things
  • Has belief
  • Has hope
  • Has endurance

I have seen many things on social media that makes me sad.  One is the vitriol people use about others who think differently than we do.  Here is an example of what I saw:

“. . . . I implore any supporters of this lawless, immoral beast occupying the White House to please unplug from my friend group. I don’t want you here. Neighbors, co-workers, family members, your values are just too harmful to the well-being of all life on this planet. Please just go . . . .”

I was shocked when I saw this.  I couldn’t imagine a progressive or a conservative asking people who think and speak differently to go.  If we continue this way, one group asking the other to no longer be friends, how do we have open forums?  How can we feel free to speak out thoughts?  Well, I guess that its a dumb question, because I do not speak about politics except with probably a couple people.  My thoughts are pretty independent, and my feelings about the hate that is going on is very strong.

I will talk about my faith.  No talking about politics.  Why?  The following verses in Corinthians kind of speaks to it.  Prophesy, speaking languages and being really smart and clever will all fade away.  All those things we brag about are nothing in the big scheme of things.  What will last is LOVE.  Why?  Because God is LOVE.  He is eternal.  So why would I get all riled up over something that will not last?  What will last is God and who he is.  I will gladly discuss that, and listen, and learn from those.  I will not argue.

So, as all this goes on, and during this year, with the elections just months away, I want you to know a few things from me personally.

  1. I will not unfriend you because we don’t think the same.
  2. I will not call anyone names.
  3. I will be sad as I see other people saying mean things about people who don’t think like they do.
  4. I will hope and pray, that no matter what the outcomes are, that we will accept them with grace.
  5. I will still stand on God’s faithfulness that He is in charge, and He will allow things for our good, and for our learning.
  6. I will hope you will still consider me your friend, even if I am different than you.

love one another

Arizona Treasures

IMG_1144Are you coming to Arizona for a visit, or do you live in Arizona and need a new place to see?  This past week we had more guests at our home.  We have had pretty much non-stop guests since Thanksgiving.  We are still new to this city and state and don’t know all the great places to take guests.  One place that is always on our list, is a hike at the trails of the San Tan Mountain Regional Park.  The park is a five minute (if that long) drive from our home.  This hike gets our guests directly in the middle of the desert, and surrounded by cactus of all sizes and types.  We took our guests on an almost five mile hike.  We stopped at various benches along the trail, so one could catch their breath, and also time to take in the amazing views.IMG_1163IMG_1153

One of the new found places we went was the Musical Instrument Museum in Scottsdale.  I had never been there, and had no idea what to expect.  I am not a very musical person, IMG_1100knowing very little about musical instruments, so I expected to be quickly bored, and ready to move on.  How wrong I was.  This is a most fascinating museum.  It is divided by continents of the world and the instruments from those area.  We are given a headset when we pay our admission. As we go to a display, one can see the instruments, some printed information, and then on a monitor is an individual or group playing these particular instruments, and the sound comes through the headsets.  As I moved from area to area, the headsets pick up the music of whatever I am standing and looking at.  At one point, I IMG_1099did not have my headset on, and I realized how silent the space was.  No one is talking much, and they are moving about listening through their own headsets to the music.

I will need to return as one cannot do this museum in one day.  There is so much to see and to hear.  Some of the instruments are very unique, and show ingenuity of the people of a region who may not have the technology to make what we would consider a modern musical instrument, but music seems to be universal, and they find a way to make an IMG_1104instrument that plays music to their ears.  I enjoyed seeing instruments from countries where my ancestors were from, finding some countries a bit more musical than others.

I spent most of my time in the U.S./Canada room, and Europe.  I need to return to get the other continents fully.  I loved the two rooms where I spent the most time.  I could have stood at the European classical music section for hours, had they had recordings for that long!   The instruments were so diverse, and some even puzzling and hard to believe.  One of the most interesting type instruments were ones that reminded me of bagpipes, but were made from animal carcasses.  The strangest was the “Ziqq” from Malta.  The instrument is a calf carcass, although I sure thought it looked like the neighbor’s dog!  A horn was attached to where I suppose the neck of the animal was, with a reed of some type to blow in to at front foot.  Just so odd and strange.  Unfortunately, the video did not show anyone playing it, so I have no idea what it sounded like.

There were five of us together, although we wandered throughout the galleries alone to our own pace.  At one point I received a phone call to meet downstairs in their restaurant for quick lunch.  It was a nice break.  Having just recovered from the flu, my ears were aching with the constant music—I guess I wasn’t yet totally healed.  For some of us, it felt like a musical overload.  Even so, it was a wonderful experience.  I plan to return soon to wander the galleries and marvel at the ingenuity of humankind around the world to find ways to make music to “calm the savage soul.”  It truly is a discovery of what all mankind has in common, the ability to create, as we are made in the image of God, who is the ultimate creator.

Another great place to explore was the Boyce Thompson Arboretum.  I am not sure what I expected this place to be.  I think I thought I would walk through some fields and look at trees, and plants, and in an hour be out of there.  That was also a wrong assumption.  This place is located in the southern most part of the Tonto National Forest in Superior, AZ, just east of Phoenix.  The path through the arboretum wound around the mountain.  There was a small lake, and then, winding paths with rock walls.  The plants and trees were exquisite.  It is another place where I need to return and just go ever so slowly and take in everything.  It also was sensory overload of God’s beautiful and unique creation.

I saw trees that I have never seen before, and cannot imagine what a forest of them would look like!  It looked like many of the plants were getting ready for a bloom I the next month, and a return visit is going to have to be on my calendar.  This  very odd looking tree reminds me of artwork in a Dr. Suess children’s book.  I missed getting its name and any history of the tree.  I must go back, if just to learn more about this tree.

Last but not least, who would think a pizza joint would be a must see destination, but we IMG_1139had dinner one evening at a place called Organ Stop Pizza.  (Bring cash—they don’t take plastic).  The pizza is actually good, and the entertainment is unusual and really fun.  Center front of the dining room is a huge ornate theater pipe organ.  The pipes are all around the front walls, along with percussion instruments, that are electronically connected to what the organist is playing.  He plays a variety of music and takes requests.  People are eating a rows of tables, and some are singing along, or clapping, or cheering.  The little ones may be in the aisle dancing along.  This place is tasty and fun for those from one year to 100 years.  It is the last thing you expect when you go to a pizza restaurant, and definitely a must see for anyone visiting Phoenix.

Now, I am resting up from the two full months of our revolving door visitors.  I wouldn’t have traded these weeks for anything.  All of them were so much fun, and we loved showing them our new city.  As we stay longer, we will learn of other great places to visit.  So, you all come!  Get away from the snow and ice that is hitting the midwest and east coast.  Make yourself a plane reservation, and come enjoy the sights and sounds of the southwest.  By the time you come, I may have found some other great stops for you to visit!IMG_1283

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