Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sorry it's been so long.

I suppose I should feel bad that I've not been on here in a while, but I have been trying to do as my blog title admonishes - bloom where I am planted.  Actually, the problem is not that I have not bloomed, or need to.  The thing is:  there are plenty of blooms on the vine that is my life.  Some of them are more unruly than others and need so much taming that I have not the time to blog. Grad school full time (online, thank goodness) going from 2 teenagers to 3 (we had a "stray" move in), retiring husband, traveling for the holidays.  It seems most days my rest comes in the form of my 7-y.o. wanting to cuddle with me when he gets up first thing in the morning.  Thank goodness for sleepy, lazy mornings when nobody is awake but me and him!

Lots of changes are coming this way this new year, and not all of them are open to be shared, but I am going to be more diligent about posting and am going to start (hopefully) posting pics of the stuff I'm working on this year.  Seems that's the thing to do based on all the blogs that I follow!

In closing, I would like to wish everyone an early Merry Christmas since it is likely that I will not be on here much (if at all) before the beginning of 2012.  Take care everyone.

Mrs. Rabbit

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Indifference makes an excuse. Love finds a way.

So, I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything.  Classes started back up about a month ago for me (Grad school for my Psychology degree) and we’re homeschooling one of our children this year.  So, I’ve been playing catch-up for the last month!  URG!  I hate being behind because so much of what I want to do has to be put on hold.  Case-in-point:  I spent all day last Saturday, with the exception of a 2-hour dinner break with some friends, in my room doing homework.  I got back at it at bedtime and worked until 3 a.m.  I got up, got ready for church, worked on more homework, went to church, came home, cooked, and worked on more homework until time to pick up my husband from the airport, came back home and did more homework.  I finally got it all done and, then, I had to get up on Monday morning to start the process all over again.  I vowed that this week I was not going to let the same thing happen.  And VOILA!!!!  Here is it Wednesday and I am as done for the week as I can possibly be.  I will have 2 more things to do on Friday for homework (maybe a half-hour’s worth of work) and then, I will wrap this week up FOR GOOD!!!

That being said, this time has not been all about the homework.  I’ve had plenty of time to ruminate about various thoughts/ideas/plans floating around inside my brain and, to be quite plain about it, I am super-excited!

We are going to buy a house, so we are house-hunting!  YAY!!!  I love looking at houses for sale and walking around in them b/c even if I don’t like the one we’re in or want to buy it, I get ideas for decorating that I can use since people who are serious about selling a house have their places “staged” nicely.  So that’s fun!

I’ve had plenty of time to hang out with my daughter, since she’s the one we’re homeschooling.  We are studying all kinds of things this year and so far, it’s proving to be quite exciting!  Joyce Meyer’s The Love Revolution.  Hebrew.  Geography + World History rolled into one.  Literature – we are reading literature from each of the regions we are studying, specifically folk tales, legends, etc. that help define/describe the culture.  Math.  Chemistry!  And the best part of all:  Friday is lab/art/music/food days (after the tests, of course).  The Art and Music we learn about  will be determined by the country we are studying, as will the recipe we make for the day – and subsequently force upon our family!  (insert evil laughter here!!!)

Now, while those things are great and I have enjoyed getting the lessons together and house-shopping online, that is not even what has my blood pumping right now. 

                As my initial posts showed, I spent the summer reading books about fighting poverty – which were wonderful – and they really got me to thinking about plans that I’ve had in mind and would like to come to fruition. But, I’ve been reminded that the thoughts that I’ve been having lately actually started several years ago when my husband was stationed in San Angelo, and I found Baker Street Coffee Shop on Knickerbocker!  Oh my what a place!!!
                I have been saying for years that I do not want to be just another person on the face of the earth who just takes up space.  I want my faith to mean something and I want people to be able to see that it does based on my actions, not based on my having to tell them.  Seems to me, if I’m doing things right, I shouldn’t have to announce that I’m a Christian.  Anyone with me?

                What keeps coming back to me is:
“Whoever gives to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to poverty will be cursed..”                 -Proverbs 28:27

John replied, "If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry."               -Luke 3:11

                And the verse that got me started:
Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.                     -James 2:15-17

This is how I started “Hoodies for the Homeless.”  I can make scarves, but I’m not so good in the hats department.  AND I’ve tried wrapping the scarf around my head to keep my ears warm and then around my neck for added warmth, but then there’s always the gap at the back of my head that lets out all the warmth I’m trying to keep in.  So, how about hooded scarves?!  Make the scarf, make the hood, attach!  VOILA!  And now the back of my neck won’t get cold.

Now, I can make them, but really, how many do we need.  3 kids and I don’t really need a whole truckload of hooded scarves and I like to crochet while I’m watching TV.  So, what do I do with everything that I crochet?  It’s not likely that I’m going to stop crocheting.  That’s about as likely as my mom not embroidering anymore quilt blocks because she’s made a quilt for everyone in the family already…  NOT LIKELY IT’S GONNA HAPPEN!

Well, here in MD it can get pretty cold.  And sandwiched right between DC and Baltimore, there are plenty of homeless people.  So, that gave me an idea.  Besides that, there’s a charity called Sarah’s House that always has a mitten tree in the local grade schools.  There is no end to the places that could use help.  And that’s just in this area! 

To go out a little further, there are Sioux reservations in the Dakotas and the surrounding states that freeze every winter!  Warmth would be a blessing, I would think.  And those are just a few of the examples.  Check this out:  http://friendsofpineridgereservation.org/

But..that’s not the point behind this post.  The point is:  I was beginning to feel like this idea might be a little lame, or like “who would wear a hooded scarf in the first place?”  I was still thinking that up until last week.

This company was started by GUYS!  Hello!  I know, I know.  I am definitely sounding sexist here, I admit it.  But I did not grow up seeing males knit or crochet or sew (though I did have a cousin who made a quilt for his mom).  But one brother taught his younger brother.  Then he taught some of his friends and they started crocheting hats to wear themselves.  Well, that got people talking and they started taking orders.  Then a few mission trips later and they started thinking that they could teach Ugandan women how to crochet in order to support themselves.  Of course, that’s my paraphrased version.
Go check them out on their website:  http://www.krochetkids.org/

And you can check out their story at http://www.krochetkids.org/who-we-are/our-story/

However, they aren’t the only ones doing good things with a hook and some yarn.  If you crochet or knit and would like to be a part of something bigger than just your own house/family, go check out some of these places:

Warm Up America!  - http://craftyarncouncil.com/

Red Scarf Project (sponsored by Foster Care to Success) - http://fc2success.org/what-we-do/programs/red-scarf-project/

Project Linus: Providing Security Through Blankets - http://www.projectlinus.org/

Crochet Cabana - http://www.crochetcabana.com/   This website has a Charity Links link that you can click on that will take you to many other charities that you can participate in using your talents.

Newborns in Need - http://www.newbornsinneed.org/ - This website is for an organization that accepts crocheted and knitted items for newborns.  There is a link to patterns as well.

Bev’s Country Cottage Charity Links - http://www.bevscountrycottage.com/charity-links.html - This page has links to charities in the US, Canada, Australia, UK, and South Africa.  There is a statement/warning, however, stating that it’s possible not all the places update Bev to let them know if they are still accepting donations. 

So…that’s all I’ve got for now.  The bottom line is:  we can all continue to live lives that focus solely on ourselves and wonder why we are miserable all the time.  Or, we can reach out, do something for someone else and find that maybe, just maybe, our lives are not as bad as we thought they were.
Personally, I’m all for making a difference.  What’s your stand?

Again, thanks for your indulgence,
Rabbit’s Bunny

Monday, August 29, 2011

Running the Race set Before Me!!!

Wow!!!  What a rough couple of weeks!  Got too busy to post anything, what with trying to get myself AND my daughter ready for school here at home, and the two boys ready for their own schooling.  Besides that, we had an earthquake and a hurricane all in one week.  PHEW!!!  By the grace of God, I am back.

I’ve been thinking about the things that I’ve got going on this school year:
            *grad school (I really want to make good grades!)
            *homeschooling sophomore daughter (I hope she enjoys it as much as I think I’m gonna.)
            *training for a half-marathon in mid-October (Am I crazy or what?)
            *getting oldest child ready (the rest of the way) to leave home (What?  He’s that old?)
            *Precepts ladies Bible study (intense)
            *house-hunting (more time-consuming than I thought it’d be)
            *car-shopping, eventually (not as much fun as it sounds, or as I’d hoped)
                        (and this is just the stuff that I know of, right now!)

and the scripture that came to mind is in Hebrews: chapter 12, verses 1-11.  These are some powerful verses.
            Hebrews 12:1-11(NIV)
(1)   Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
(2)   Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
(3)   Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
(4)   In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 
(5)   And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:  “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
(6)   Because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son, (Proverbs 3:11,12)”
(7)   Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons.  For what son is not disciplined by his father?
(8)   If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 
(9)   Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it.  How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!
(10)           Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.
(11)           No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

  So…Hebrews 12 begins with a “Therefore” and my mother always told me to look and see what it was there for, so I refer you back to chapter 11.  That is the “Faith Hall of Fame” chapter.  And my, my, my – what a line-up.  But verse 39 talks of how all the aforementioned folks were commended for their faith and yet, none of them received the promise.  In fact, all of the people mentioned are from the Old Testament – they just had the mention of a Messiah, of a Savior.  And they went forth, in faith, trusting that they had heard from God, taking Him at His Word.  And they were commended.  Then, in verse 40, we are told that God has something “better” for us.  WOW again!  Talk about motivation to keep on keeping on!

Then, our focus is directed to Jesus!  Are you going through some “stuff” right now?  Does it seem like you are in a hole that is so deep you can’t see much more than a speck of light in the distance?  Guess what!  Jesus is there with you.  He was there before you and He can sympathize with where you are!!!  And still, He asks you trust and obey.  

Everything we have to do, everything He calls us to do and all those things we go through as we are being obedient, that’s our discipline.  Those are the things that are perfecting us, purifying us, so that we are the creation He designed us to be.  We are constantly being formed and molded into the image of Christ.  That is the purpose of the discipline. 

But not all discipline is punishment.  Sometimes, it is just the denying of our selfish wants and desires so that we can obtain something better, something eternal.  Our flesh will scream and it will feel as though we are being punished, but we know in our hearts, we have faith, that the denial will bring us something greater.  The thing is: we don’t get the reward until we are obedient, and put our faith to work.  It isn’t really faith until we take action; before that, it’s just a thought.  As a good friend of mine put it:  you can say you believe that the chair can hold you up, but until you put your but in the seat, you’ll never know.  You have to put your faith to work; that’s obedience.

So, today, I believe that I will set aside everything that tells me this year will be too hard.  I will set aside everything that tells me I should just quit and take an easier road.  I will set aside those voices in my head that tell me my kids will hate me if I don’t let them eat sweets or watch that TV program I don’t like even though I don’t really have a good enough reason for them.  I will set aside those voices that tell me I’m crazy for wanting to run a half-marathon just to see if I can do it.  I will set aside those voices that tell me I will not have enough hours in the day to get the things done that I know I have been called to do.  I will set aside the temptation to 10 cookies when one (or two) is enough.  I will set aside the temptation to sit on the couch and watch another rerun of NCIS when I could be putting away the laundry I folded while it was on, even though I detest putting laundry away.  I will do it because my husband does not need to come home to a dirty house when I am not busy and am not sick and have had all day to complete a 15 minute task and because he does not need to hear the excuse, “I just didn’t feel like it.” 

I will discipline myself not to talk about those people who have hurt my feelings because talking about them only keeps me in bondage to the damage they did to me.  It keeps that wound from healing, and I have already received my healing because of Christ’s stripes.  I will accept that healing and will no longer do those things that keep it from being a reality in my life.  I will choose life over death, hope over despair, love over hate.  And I will continually choose them.  And when I overindulge in self-pity, I will ask for forgiveness and then, I will persevere again.

And, lest Christ shall tarry, I will do it all again tomorrow.  Running the race set before me.

Thanks for Your Indulgence,
Rabbit's Bunny

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

All Things Work Together for Good for Those that Love the Lord!!!

PHEW!!  It's good to be back on some kind of a schedule.  Last week was super busy and I was missing getting to post something.  But, I am back and with a vengeance.  God has been doing a work in me these last few days and all I can say is THANK THE LORD!!!  God is good and He is good ALL THE TIME!!!

It’s a hard thing to realize that God doesn’t owe you anything.  During this “thing” we’ve all been going through, I’ve been praying and praying and praying and believing and believing and believing that all things would work out good for us because we love the Lord.  But the bottom line is this:  all things will “ultimately” work out for out good because we get to spend an eternity in Heaven with the Lord.  THAT is the “good” in this case.  The only other guarantee that I have found to be absolutely sure is that, while we are here on earth, there will be suffering.  But these “light and momentary afflictions” are designed to draw us closer to the heart of God.  I believe I was in a Kay Arthur bible study (but it may have been a Joyce Meyer teaching) when I heard that far too often people spend their time looking for the hand of God when they ought to be looking for the heart of God.  The heart of God is that we would grow more intimate in our relationship with Him; not that we would be continually looking for hand-outs.  Sure, He will take care of us.  Sure, He will provide for us.  Yes, He will never leave us, nor forsake us.  But, our job is to be getting to know Him better, getting to know His will for our lives, not just looking for a hand-out.  God is not a genie in a bottle, designed to grant us wishes.  God is not our sugar-daddy, there to make our lives cushy and easy.  He calls us to walk the narrow path and the way is not easy.  It is not for wimps.  It is not for quitters.  He is out to separate the wheat from the chaff and you better be careful when you pray for a deeper, more intimate relationship with Him, because you may not have a clue what you are asking for and just what He might require of you until you are down the road a ways and things start looking rocky.

Take the ocean.  The waves that batter and rock the boats are high and they are strong.  BUT, they are only on the surface.  Down underneath, the water is way calmer.  That’s where we need to be hanging out with God.  Down underneath all the waves that bluster about and bang against things.  The people riding on the surface of the water, at the superficial level of the relationship, are the ones having the rough ride.  You gotta go deep.  Down further than you think.  But simply dunking your head underneath the water, where you can still swim is not going to cut it.  Here, you can still save yourself. 

In this “thing” we are going through, I have resolved that nothing is going to make me turn my back on God.  Nothing is going to tear this family apart.  Things have been said and accusations made that are completely unfounded, and I am thoroughly convinced that these are fiery arrows from Satan designed to undermine the work that God has started in this family.  I have been through too much in my life to let this get the best of me. 
Being resolved is one thing; we all make resolutions on New Year’s Eve, only to have ditched them February (if we make it that long).  It’s what we do when the going gets tough that makes us who we are and will tell us in whom we have put our faith.  On the days that I have tried to “will” my way through things and do it on my own, things are bleak and awful and I can’t see straight because I just get so angry and fed up and tired and emotional and…  You name it; I run the gamut of emotions.  But on the days, when I turn the mess over to God, and that means all my feelings surrounding the mess too, and I let Him tell me how to go about my day, there truly is a peace that passes understanding.

Things have been said by people (one person in particular) that in my flesh, I know I would never be able to look at that person the same way again, and yet, there is a relationship there.  A growing, thriving relationship.  This person betrayed me.  This person betrayed a very close family member of mine and yet, she and I are close.  I do not look at her and think, “This is all because of you.”  There has been restoration there.  The situation is not even resolved yet, and there is restoration there.  God works even in the midst of the crisis to give you a peace that you cannot even imagine.  The only catch is: you have to let Him.  You cannot keep carrying the burden around yourself and praying for rest, wondering why He’s not answering.  The answer is:  You don’t have rest because you haven’t let Him handle the burden for you.  And turning that burden over to Him may have to take place SEVERAL times a day.  Maybe even several times an hour.  But you have to keep turning it over.  He will keep taking it back and taking it back until you stop trying to snatch it out of His hands and handle it on your own.  He will.  He is faithful even when we are faithless. 

So my prayer, for you today, as well as for myself:

Dear Lord, thank you that you are faithful even when I am not.  Thank you that you are God and I am not.  Thank you that your thoughts are not my thoughts and that your ways are not my ways.  I trust that you know what you are doing and that if you have let something come into my life it is only because you love me and want to see me grow more in my walk with you.  I trust that you love me enough not to leave me alone and let me be.  When times are hard, please direct me to scriptures that will lift me up and remind me of your faithfulness.  When things look dark, help me to remember that thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.  There is power in the name of Jesus, there is power in the Word, and there is power in the blood.  Help me to remember to call upon the name of Jesus, to pray the Word over my life and to claim the life-giving, soul-saving power of the blood that Jesus shed so that I might spend eternity with you in Heaven, so that I can endure.  One day at a time, one hour at a time, one minute, one second, one step.  May I come to rely so much on you that I would not dare think to step out of bed without calling on the name of Jesus for strength to make it through the day.  Draw me so close to you that I can hear your heartbeat over my own.  May my steps align so well with yours that only one set of footprints is visible.  Bend my will to yours so that all I want is what you want for me and so that I want nothing that is not of you.  Help me to remember to hold everything you have given me with an open hand so that my hand does not have to ache from clenching everything so tightly, and my heart does not have to break so much when you ask for it back.  Help me to remember that this world is not my home, that I am only hurting because you have placed a longing in my heart for a place that is not here, but for a perfect home and for an eternity with you, when there will be no more pain, no more heartache, and no more betrayal.  Give me strength to speak of that place, and of your Son, to those you put in my life so that they might be able to share in your promises, as well.  Give me a holy boldness to reach out to those who are hurting because they do not know you, even though they do not know that is why they are hurting.  Forgive me for those times when I have tried to insulate and isolate myself from the world, when I have become self-protective and have neglected doing your work because I did not want to get hurt again.  Renew in me a heart of mercy so that I might reach out to those who are hurting because our ultimate act of praise ought to be using the strength you have given us to endure hard times to encourage others during their hard times.    Dear Lord, more than anything, I pray that your will be done in my life, and, if possible, through my life.

In Jesus’ Name I pray,

I would like to add just one final thing.  A link to a video/song that has meant a lot to me this summer:

"Blessings" by Laura Story (this is the YouTube link to the same video above)

Enjoy, and again, TFYI,
Rabbit's Bunny

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Renewing American Compassion, and My Own. Finally.

So, the post for today, has to do with the book "Renewing American Compassion" and rededicating myself to my own compassion-related objectives.

Renewing American Compassion:
How compassion for the needy
can turn ordinary citizens into heroes
by: Marvin Olasky
How many times have you thought about the welfare system and felt like there has to be a better way of providing for the legitimately poor among us, then this is a book you need to read.  There are some people who take advantage of the system, but there are plenty who do not and the current welfare system would rather throw money at people and keep them poor than it would prefer to help them up out of their misery.  The welfare system, as a whole, is designed to keep the organizations who support it wealthy while it keeps the people receiving welfare poor.  Does that seem a little lop-sided to anyone but me?

For your perusal and consideration, here's an excerpt from the book:

     "Today, we have lots of theories about fighting poverty, but it is not necessary to be moving in the theoretical plane.  Americans know how to fight poverty.  We had successful antipoverty programs a century ago, successful because they embodied personal involvement and challenge, both material and spiritual.
     This vital story has generally been ignored by liberal historians, but the documented history goes like this:  during the 19th century a successful war on poverty was waged by tens of thousands of local, private charitable agencies and religious groups around the country.  The platoons of the greatest charity army in American history often were small.  They were made up of volunteers led by poorly paid but deeply dedicated professional managers.  And they were effective.  ...And the optimism prevalent then contrasts sharply with the demoralization among the poor and the cynicism among the better-off that is so common now.
     What was their secret?  It was not neglect, either benign or malign.  It is their understanding of the literal and biblical meaning of compassion, which comes from two Latin words: com, with, and pati, to suffer.  The word points to personal involvement with the needy, suffering with them, not just giving to them.  "Suffering with" means adopting hard-to-place babies, providing shelter to women undergoing crisis pregnancies, becoming a big brother to a fatherless child, working one-on-one with a young, single mother.  It's not easy--but it is effective.
     ...our predecessors made moral demands on recipients of aid.  They saw family, work, freedom, and faith as central to our being, not as lifestyle options.  The volunteers gave of their own lives not just so that others might survive, but that they might thrive."

If we were honest with ourselves, if I am honest with myself, this kind of compassion, while biblical is less than comfortable.  It often requires more out of us than we think we are willing to give.  But I wonder if that's not because we stress ourselves out about the idea before we ever start to put it into practice.  How many times have I "psyched" myself out over something before I ever got started?  Is that not exactly what Satan wants us to do?  To quit before we start so that we never accomplish anything in our lives.

How many times has this happened to you???  I can tell you it has happened to me more times than I care to admit.  One thing I have discovered though is that God has never called me to do anything that He has not already prepared me for, or that He is incapable of helping me through.  And for that matter, if I was capable of doing it all on my own, it stands to reason that I would do it on my own, and He would never get any of the glory.

Here's something to consider:

Proverbs 11:24-25
     One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.  A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.

     How can you refresh somebody today?  Who can you refresh today?  Has someone been on your mind that you keep meaning to call and you keep getting busy and forget?  When was the last time you wrote someone a letter?  Visited a sick friend?  Visited your mother?   What about that friend from high school you keep meaning to call and make a date for coffee?  Do you have a relative in a nursing home you could visit for a few hours?  You'd be surprised at how little it can take to make someone's day.  Give it a try.  Put yourself, your troubles, your issues, on the back burner for a while and focus strictly on someone else.  You'll be amazed at how much better you feel and how the severity of your problems, when compared to someone else's, seems to fade just a bit.

Something I heard one time:
     If you and everyone you know could write down your problems on a piece of paper and throw them all into a hat and you were asked to pass the hat around and pull out any problem you wanted, you'd reach in and pull out your own.  It may seem bad to you because you are the one going through it, but would you really trade your issues for anyone else's?  If you wouldn't, then you have options.  Either fix it, or don't.  If you aren't going to fix it, then stop complaining and take things the way they are.  If you can fix it, stop complaining and do it.  Either way, the complaining is pointless.

Anyway, I know I get to sounding like a preachy, nagging mom, but it's only because I had a good teacher (Thanks, Mom!).  But trust that all this is focused straight back at me.

Rabbit's Bunny

Monday, August 8, 2011

Unknowingly Sidetracked! Dang It!

It dawned on me a couple days ago the truth of the saying,

If Satan can't make you sin, he'll make you busy.

I've been so wrapped up in what's been going on here in our lives that I've neglected some rather important things and I hadn't even realized it.  I've had a crochet project I was working on before our whole mess started that I've not been doing.  I've had a letter to respond to for a month that hasn't been done yet, and many more besides that I usually write that I haven't.  I also started a kind of soup supper tradition with my friends that has become a hit.  None of these things have happened since "the last Monday in April."  What I have done since that dread date is no less noble, but all I have been doing is trying to find something else to get angry about so that I don't think about what's bothering me.  What I have failed to do is those things that make me who I am to those around me who love me.  In my efforts to quit thinking about what was making me so mad, I allowed myself to become so sidetracked that I let some things slip that I am good at and that bring me joy!  DUH!!!!  Dang it!

So, I tried to reschedule a soup supper, but everyone I invited was busy.  No big deal.  The effort to be obedient is what is rewarded and I will not be judged for other people's busy schedules not allowing them to show up to a supper.  That's fine!  The point is:  I'm back!  The letter that is overdue will be started (& probably finished) today and mailed tomorrow.  And as for the crochet, one shawl has been finished in the past week, and I've got the original foundation chain started for another one and it will be finished this week - because what else can I do while I am watching our spectacular summer television line-up.

That being said, what has drawn my attention this summer is no less noble just because it took my attention away from other things.  One thing that has drawn my attention has been getting stuff ready to home-school my daughter for her 10th grade year (and probably 11th & 12th grade years as well).  Lots of worksheets found, lots of awesome lesson plan ideas. Can't wait to get started, even though it means I'll be teaching and going to school at the same time.

When Helping Hurts:
How to Alleviate Poverty Without
Hurting the Poor and Yourself
by:  Steve Corbett & Brian Pikkert
And then, there are the books I've read.  The next book I have to talk about is:

Here's an excerpt:
"A helpful first step in thinking about working with the poor in any context
is to discern whether the situation calls for relief, rehabilitation, or development.  In fact, the failure to distinguish among these situations is one of the most common reasons that poverty-alleviate efforts often to harm."

"One of the biggest mistakes that North American churches make--by far--is in applying relief in situations in which rehabilitation or development is the appropriate intervention."

Relief, according to the book, is the throwing of money at the problem.  Rehabilitation involves the restoration of the people and their communities to their "pre-crisis conditions" and "working with people as they participate in their own recovery."  Finally, development is the "process of ongoing change that moves all people involved (helpers & helped) closer to being in right relationship with God, self, others & the rest of creation."

Finally, "(I)n summary, poor people in North America could benefit form all of the following:  (1) the capability to work at jobs with living wages, (2) the capacity to manage their money, (3) the opportunity to accumulate wealth, and (4) a greater supply of quality education, housing, and health care at affordable rates. Moreover, like all of us, poor people need highly relational ministries--delivered through the body of Jesus Christ--that help them to overcome the effects of the fall on their individual hearts, minds and behaviors."

This book was published in collaboration with the Chalmers Center for Economic Development.  If you'd like to learn more about them, you can check them out on the web at www.chalmers.org or you can find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ChalmersCenter.

I would encourage you, the next time you are in the middle of a town and you are confronted by a homeless person, how about, instead of just throwing money at them and hoping they'll move along, why not have a conversation with them and find out why they are on the street.  You may feel a little uncomfortable, but how do you think they feel having to ask for hand-outs.  Everyone has a story.  You do run the risk of being duped, that's for sure.  But, you run a risk every time you take a chance on a person.  Every time.  Someone IS going to break your heart.  I guarantee it!!!  But you'll never regret the time you took the risk, only those times you let fear stand in the way!

Rabbit's Bunny

Friday, August 5, 2011

Kindess, a Tyranny?

Tyranny of Kindness:  Dismantling the Welfare
system to End Poverty in America
by Theresa Funiciello
An excerpt from the pictured book:

"Fatima Ali, a thirty-two-year-old middle-class Muslim housewife was attempting to send all five of her children back to Allah, through their apartment window.  Her daughter Taisha was pronounced dead at the hospital.  Rasheed, critically injured, survived.  Just as Ms. Ali was about to toss our her one-year-old, firefighters burst into her apartment. As they were overtaking her, she urged the children to go quickly, as if they would go on their own.  All were naked.  According to one news report, she said, "We came into this world with nothing, and that's how we're going to leave."  Three children and their mother, who intended to jump when she completed the task, were rescued.
     Ms. Ali was charged with murder, attempted murder, first- and second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, and endangering the welfare of a child.  Neighbors said the mother was loving and the children were always polite and clean, as if that somehow rendered the occurrence more mysterious.  And then Fatima Ali and her children vanished from our collective memory, almost as swiftly as they had entered.
     When I was young, I could not possibly have understood or forgiven the acts of Fatima Ali.  Some of that youth I spent as a Muslim--drapes for clothes, virtually nonstop prayers, my two feet of hair cordoned with a bolt of white cloth bound so tightly I could never really forget it was there.  I took this religion as seriously as the religions that preceded it in my life, starting with Catholicism (I went to church every day until I was eighteen).  My religion was as solid as a rock mountain, vulnerable only to major earthquakes and dripping water by the century.  In later years, feminism finally crept up on me.
     In Islam everything, from sex to eating, is ritualized.  That's how I know what Fatima Ali was doing with apparent calm while she help Rasheed out the window before letting go.  She was praying.  In form and function, as in other patriarchal religions, women in Islam are buried alive in an avalanche of contradictions.  They are equal; no superior; no, inferior to me, to snakes, to witches.  The female self is sublimated under a mass of religious debris.  Make no mistake:  an Islamic woman without a man, especially a woman with children, isn't remotely like a fish without a bicycle.
     This woman had five children, aged one to eight years, and was recently separated fro her husband.  She had trouble making her last month's rent.  She had been trapped in one alienating system and was about to become trapped in another.  She surely feared a descent into poverty, alienation, and probably homelessness.  After all, once removed from attachment to a man, her labor as a wife and mother was all but worthless.  It would not have been difficult for her to imagine a terrifying future.  The streets.  Welfare.  Welfare hotels.  Drugs, prostitution, guns, knives, gambling, drunkenness, and all manner of spiritual death.  But for a woman with the option of deliverance, it wasn't inevitable.  
     A homeless mother of five has virtually no change of being taken in by friends or family for more than a night or two.  In fact, were Ms. Ali to become homeless, she would have only a 16 percent chance of keeping her children with her for the duration of their homelessness.  The odds are not much better for mothers of fewer children, who would be more typical.  In all cases, relatively young mothers and their children who find themselves suddenly without the income of a father (or the unlikely trust fund) might bring, are in a situation fraught with peril."

     The story continues, and many others are added which are even sadder, as the book progresses.  What the book spells out though is just how flawed the welfare system in the United States is.  The book talks at length about food pantries too.  I have donated plenty of food to food pantries over the years.  I can't say that I won't continue to donate food since I have plenty, but think about this for a bit.  I have donated plenty of boxes of macaroni and cheese and Hamburger Helper dinner mixes, cans of corn, green beans, pork-n-beans, peas, fruit, and the like.  Non-perishables they are called.  However, there is no guarantee that the women who frequent the food pantries will have access to water with which to cook the noodles, meat to put into the Hamburger Helper, a stove on which to cook the food, or a microwave or electricity.  Or heat of any description.  Shall I keep going?

I found this book at one of the local libraries.  If you want an eye-opener and an education about the welfare system from the people who "use" it, this book is a must read.  There are people out there who abuse it "the system" to be sure.  But there are people who would like to use welfare as little as possible and then only to get on their feet.  For those people, sometimes getting back on your feet is easier said than done in a system that is designed to keep you down rather than help you up.

Knowledge is power, my friends, but it is also a double-edged sword.  The wisdom it gives you to hack out the evil in the world can also cut you to the quick when you realize you have not done as much as you could, or ought to be.  Remember, too, that once you know a thing, you are responsible to do something with what you know.  If you don't want to be held accountable for the things you learn in this book, don't read it.  If you are ready to be ticked off by a broken system and are ready to do something, to get involved in making the system for providing for our poor work better, proceed with reckless abandon.

I know I said yesterday that I was going to talk about 3 different books today, but I think I'll leave it with this one and I offer these passages of scripture as food for thought:

Proverbs 22:22-23
22 Do not exploit the poor because they are poor 
   and do not crush the needy in court, 
23 for the LORD will take up their case 
   and will exact life for life.

Matthew 16:24-27
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life[a]will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

Thanks for your indulgence,
Rabbit's Bunny

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Putting Feet to My Faith

As I was thinking about what I had posted earlier, I felt that it was lacking much meaning.  So, to add to the Psalm 41 post from earlier in the day, I wanted to submit for your thought and reflection a passage from James 2 that moves me:

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

I have been reading plenty of stuff this summer that has me convicted that I do not do nearly enough of the kind of stuff that I ought to be.  I look at the way I spend my time and I think, I could be doing so much more.  I've known single moms of multiple children who seem to accomplish so much more with their days than I do and I think that I am not doing enough.  But then, I stop and I look at my kids and I know that I know them.  I know that they know that I love them and that I am blessed to have a wonderful husband who supports my staying at home while they are growing up so that we can be together and they can have a supervised childhood, rather than one that requires them to grow up too quickly.  And I am reminded that there are other things that I can worry about and there will be plenty of time in my life for the things I think I ought to accomplish before I die that I will be able to do AFTER my kids leave the house.  In the meantime, I will spend my time educating them on the things in the world that they need to know exist, such as the people who live on less than $1.00 a day (nearly a billion people), and spur them on to their own action once they are out on their own.  So that they will not be tempted to say "Oh, that's too bad," and then go on with their own lives.  

My prayer:  Please, Dear Lord, help me to be less self-centered every day and to raise my children in such a way so that they will realize when they are being self-centered and will turn to You for help in finding ways to not be.

Thanks for your indulgence twice today,
Rabbit's Bunny

Confirmation comes from all kinds of places

My verse for the day - the very first passage I read this morning - Psalm 41: 1-3

Oh, the joys of those who are kind to the poor.  The Lord rescues them in times of trouble.  The Lord protects them and keeps them alive  He gives them prosperity and rescues them from their enemies.  The Lord nurses them when they are sick and eases their pain and discomfort.

Why this scripture?

I bought this book the infamous "last Monday in April."  It was to be the book with which I began my summer reading.  Boy, what a book!!

I had been upset about the goings-on here at "The Warren" and needed something to get me out of my own head and to get my mind on something else.  I felt like I was floundering, flailing, needing something to grasp onto so that I could stop thinking about what was going on in our lives.  One would think that a person needing an escape would choose some light "beach-chair" kind of book designed to magically transport that person to anywhere other than here.  Well, not this girl.  I have to read something that gets my blood pumping, that gets me stirred up and mad about something other than what I'm dealing with.  I guess I need somewhere to focus my anger other than at myself, my kids and my husband.  So...I try to find a way to change things.  If I can't change my present circumstances, I find something else to fix.  Usually I rearrange furniture, but with the current configuration of the house in which we reside, that is pointless.  So, I decided to get mad about poverty and the general state of the world today and to try to find a way to do something about it.  "All That is Bitter and Sweet" was the catalyst for that.

I will not divulge all the details of the book, because I highly recommend the book to anyone who wants their eyes opened to the kinds of suffering Miss Judd saw while she was touring with/for Population Services International.  Yes, the book is a memoir, so she reveals herself through the pages of the book, but the parts that got me the most were the stories she told of the women (and children) she encountered on her trips to Africa and Southeast Asia in brothels that sell "services" to anyone who will pay.

From here, I will direct you to Population Services International.
And to their blog:

Miss Judd's book caused me to pick up another book I had bought (this one is from last summer):

Some of the choice nuggets of wisdom I extracted from this book that go along with the scripture for today:

(1)  When people reach out to others, it takes their minds off their own problems and puts the focus on someone else.

(2)  It's more important that we find somebody to love than having somebody to love us.  Because when we find somebody to love and we pour that love out on them, we're no longer victims, we're the victor.

(3)  Success is not measured by the amount of people underneath you, but by the amount of people you get underneath and lift up.

Lastly, I will leave you with this to chew on...
     We tend to live "backward" -- exactly opposite of the way she would live.  we love for ourselves and yet we never seem to end up with what satisfies us.  We should live for others and learn the wonderful secret that what we give away comes back to us multiplied many times over (from the Introduction to The Love Revolution).

I don't know why it works, but it has proved successful and particularly beneficial time and time again in my life that once I stop thinking about myself all time and use that energy in the service of others, I begin to worry less about what's going on in my life and, as a result, I have more strength and patience to endure it.

A Sneak Peak into What's Coming Tomorrow:

From Robert Kegan, "The Evolving Self"
     "What the eye sees better the heart feels more deeply.  We not only increase the likelihood of our being moved; we also run the risks that being moved entails.  Seeing increases our vulnerability to be recruited to the welfare of another."


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

This is my first post; so, please be gentle.

So, I have decided that since I follow so many other people's blogs and have made some random posts on FB over the past few months that have generated some buzz, now might be the time to start my own blog.  I don't know that I'll have anything anyone will want to read, but I have some stuff to say and some things to share and I'd like to hear from any of you that might like to participate.

Life in our house got a big jolt on the last Monday in April.  I cannot say what exactly, and only a few very close people know the details, but it has really rocked my world and has put a kink in the way things have run in this house ever since.

But before I go on, I feel I must give a few details about myself.  I've been a Christian since I was 8 years old.  That being said, I kinda "took a break" for a while, (probably from the age of 12 to the age of 20) in that I was not exactly behaving in a way that would convince anyone that I was a believer.  I graduated high school in 1992, entered the Navy in January 1993, got married in October 1993, had my first child in April 1994, was sent to Fort Meade, MD in October 1994, and somewhere during late-1994 to early 1995, I was introduced to Severn Covenant Church by a person I worked with and it has been my earthly spiritual home ever since.  To be quite honest, I'd say that aside from a few very distinct decisions made during my early years, my life as a Christian didn't really start until we started attending Severn Covenant Church.

I spent a lot of time while I was in high school attending a church in Texarkana, TX (where my parents live), feeling like there had to be more to being a Christian than just "getting my ticket punched" and hopping on the Jesus-train.  I mean, seriously, what's the point of being a Christian here on earth if it doesn't change your life. Right?  Well, I knew there had to be something, but I was getting it, wasn't finding it, didn't know where to look for it and didn't have many people who could tell me at the time.  Not that I was asking, mind you, because it was easier, as a teenager, to complain than it was to do something about what I was feeling.  (Sometimes, it still is......)  Then, I found Severn Covenant Church - or rather, I was led there.  That's when things really started to sink in for me.  That's when I started to really get hold of the notion that being a Christian was not about just getting my ticket punched, but about having a relationship with Jesus Christ that called me to a deeper level of commitment than I had ever thought possible.  Suddenly, I was surrounded by people who lived and breathed this stuff, like their very lives depended on Jesus Christ himself.  Little did I realize then, that I would come to think just as they did.

Now, fast-forward to April 2011.  I've grown up a lot since then, spiritually and emotionally, and I've had my own moments of realization that God was "it" - the end-all, be-all and that nothing gets done without Him and His say-so, but it wasn't until April 2011 that that particular kind of faith began to be tested, or rather my family began to be tested so that my faith (and that of others in this house) began to be purified.  Accusations have been hurled at this family that we cannot answer for sufficiently enough to please anyone - a kind of "Catch-22" situation in which we can do absolutely nothing but say the truth and let the chips fall where they may, trusting that God will place each individual chip right where He needs for it to be in order for the rest of our lives to go the way He has planned them to go.  In other words, our very lives depend on Him right now.  And what a scary place it is!

And so, this blog is my attempt at dealing with this issue in a way that I hope helps others see that there is always something to hope for, and there is always light on the other side of the darkness.

Right now, you may be asking:  "Why 'Bloom Where You're Planted'?"  And why the breezes-and-blooms in the URL.  Well, I'll tell you.  My husband and I got sent away from the Fort Meade/Severn Covenant Church area for a while and while we were gone, I realized that I was missing my friends back here terribly.  It was hard to get my bearings because every place I went, every church I tried, suffered in comparison to SCC.  When I finally stopped feeling sorry for myself and got around to asking God what He wanted from me where I was at the moment, the message I got was to bloom where I was planted.  In other words, do what you are supposed to do right where you are instead of complaining about not being where you want to be.  Harsh words, but they carried weight.  Once I stopped complaining and started being obedient, my outlook brightened.  I still wasn't "at home" in SCC where I would've loved to have been, but I was making friends and growing in God and things were looking up.  Figuring out how to do that is a crucial skill for a military wife.  You can't live your life at your last duty station.  Likewise, I couldn't live my life at my last church either.  I had to keep moving forward regardless of where I was.  So...that's why the "bloom" part.

As for the "breeze" part:  It's about faith too.  About 4 years ago, I was with the kids @ the park and it was about as hot as it has been here the last few weeks. My youngest, 3 at the time, decided it would be a good idea to pray for breeze. We got a little, but it stopped. So, he decided that we should pray for more and that it would continue until we left the park.  We did, and it did. God is faithful, no doubt.   I had been thinking about that incident and wondering how I could feel the breeze in the situation we are in right now.  And the scripture I got was this:   

Psalm 34:15-20. 

15 The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, 
and his ears are attentive to their cry; 
16 but the face of the LORD is against those who do evil, 
to blot out their name from the earth.

17 The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; 
he delivers them from all their troubles. 
18 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted 
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

19 The righteous person may have many troubles, 
but the LORD delivers him from them all; 
20 he protects all his bones, 
not one of them will be broken.

Now that I've explained the breezes and blooms, I hope that I have not bored you all too much into not wanting to continue on with reading my posts.  I pray that they will be a blessing to you and that you too will find the ability to bloom where you're planted and that a gentle breeze will blow softly on you while you are in the midst of your own hard times.

In Him,
Rabbit's Bunny