This is my personal blog, on which I talk about a variety of topics purely as they catch my fancy. Some topics are serious, others whimsical. I love comments and questions so don't be shy, just courteous, even if you don't agree with me. I have another blog, The Story Template, on which I post writing-related topics on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Let's see, a bit about me... I'm married with two children, and spend much time taking care of our family. In my life BC (before children) I was a scientist who did bench research. I am a Christian who came to faith under protest through studying the historic circumstances surrounding the death of Jesus. I've written one novel, A Lever Long Enough, that I'm honored to say has won two awards. I also have written a nonfiction book, The Story Template: Conquer Writer's Block Using the Universal Structure of Story. This book is a programmed learner-type book that helps you, the writer, develop a complete compelling story (novel or screenplay) from a vague idea.

YOU CAN CONTACT ME at amydeardon at yahoo dot com.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


These were a favorite of Winston Churchill. Paraprosdokians are figures of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected; frequently humorous. "Paraprosdokian" comes from Greek "παρά," meaning "against" and "προσδοκία," meaning "expectation."

1. Where there's a will, I want to be in it.

2. The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on my list.

3. Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

4. If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong.

5. We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.

6. War does not determine who is right - only who is left..

7. Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not
putting it in a fruit salad.

8. They begin the evening news with 'Good Evening,' then proceed to tell you why it isn't.

9. To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.

10. Buses stop in bus stations.  Trains stop in train stations.  On my desk is a work station.

11. I thought I wanted a career. Turns out I just wanted paychecks.

12. In filling out an application, where it says, 'In case of emergency, notify:' I put 'DOCTOR.'

13. I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.

14. Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they are sexy.

15 Behind every successful man is his woman. Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.

16. A clear conscience is the sign of a fuzzy memory.

17. You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.

18. Money can't buy happiness, but it sure makes misery easier to live with.

19. There's a fine line between cuddling and holding someone down so they can't get away.

20. I used to be indecisive. Now I'm not so sure.

21. You're never too old to learn something stupid.

22. To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.

23. Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.

24. Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

25. Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.

26. Where there's a will, there are relatives.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Obama's View on Small Business

Something President Obama said last week bothers me more as I think about it. Here's the quote:

"If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”

At first blush these words may not offend. OF COURSE we all work together. OF COURSE we all receive help from others. But how can it be true that those who build their own businesses really *didn't* build them? Huh?

Last time I checked, there are roads and bridges in North Korea, and the old Soviet Empire, and in China. There are teachers for children all over the world. Parents and others give help to people all the time, in all countries. So what makes the American system different? Surely it's got to be more than what President Obama says here.

Thomas Edison. The Wright Brothers. Henry Ford. Bill Gates. Steve Jobs. So many more. Name any invention you care to, and chances are overwhelming it was first made in the United States. For generations we have been the independent, fearless, creative, rugged, generous, and brave people that have made the world better.

What has happened?

Since my only direct small business experience is with Taegais Publishing LLC, let me tell you a little about this. For many reasons, I decided to publish my first novel myself rather than go the traditional publishing route. I formed Taegais in 2008 and opened a bank account with a few dollars my husband and I were able to squeeze from our family budget. My friend Jane gave the most incredible edit of A LEVER LONG ENOUGH that taught me many aspects of really good writing. Over the next 8 months and six rounds I edited and cut Lever into a publishable-grade book. When it was ready I hired a company to do an expensive painting for the front cover -- worth every penny, but it nearly emptied my Taegais bank account. After an infusion of birthday and Christmas money from my parents, I hired Chris Yavelow to copyedit and typeset my book. Finally I released A LEVER LONG ENOUGH in January 2009, and made a true pest of myself over the next two years finding people who might review or simply enjoy reading my book.

I am proud of Lever. It is well written and exciting, I believe, sold 500 copies, and received 36 reviews on amazon averaging 4.5 stars. A year and a half after it was released, I learned how to format an ebook so I could offer it for sale in Kindle and Nook versions. (BTW I've lowered the price to $2.99 on Kindle, hint hint).

After finishing Lever I decided to take time to understand how story structure worked. Last fall I hired the same cover company (Archer Ellison) to package my new book, and they kept me on track with the editing schedule to write the manuscript from April to June. Kim came up with a great cover etc., and THE STORY TEMPLATE was then released in July 2011. (BTW AE is a pleasure to work with and does top-notch work, if you ever need a book producer). I put Template in ebook format as well.

Marlene Bagnull was interested enough in my experiences as a story analyst and e-publisher that she hired me to speak at GPCWC in 2009, 2011, and this year. I am grateful to her for giving me a chance.

How is my company doing?

I pay $300 a year in taxes for my LLC. The first three years (2008, 2009, and 2010) I was significantly in the red, and the only way I could stay afloat was funneling spare dollars into Taegais. In 2010 I came very close to ending it, but my husband said to hold on for one more year. In 2011 I earned a net of about $300 that was taken to pay taxes. This year, 2012, is the first year that looks like I'll be operating in the black to the tune of one to a few thousand dollars. This income is coming from: book sales, ebook sales, conference speaking fees (3 conferences this year), and income from a new venture I just started to epublish client manuscripts at http://www.ebooklistingservices.com. It's still a modest company, but I am proud of everything I do which I like to think is top notch quality.

I look at it that the faith and belief that things might work came from me, with hefty doses of encouragement from my husband, kids, friends, and my parents and husband's parents who gave me birthday and Christmas money. Jane was an incredible editor, and I will always be grateful to her for teaching me so much. Chris did an amazing job of editing and book design, and taught me much about grammar :-) Marlene took a chance on me as a speaker when I didn't have credentials. Many efriends, some with whom I have lost contact, were generous with their time and reviews and general encouragement and assurances that I was doing good work. But, ultimately, it was ME who made Taegais happen.

Obama didn't say this directly, but I think he probably felt (from references to infrastructure) that THE GOVERNMENT had helped me create my business. Well, no. The $300 per year in taxes would have broken me if Taegais hadn't been generously subsidized from family. It's only this year that it looks like I'll stay ahead of taxes -- and it's still not wages that anyone could live on. I'll simply plow some money back into the business, with the rest pay part of our daughter's college tuition, and that'll be it. Reagan often said that government helped business by getting out of the way. From my personal experience, I have to agree.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Ben Linden, RIP

A 24 year old surfer named Ben Linden was bitten in half by a great white on Saturday 7/14. The attack occurred in Western Australia, which now has sustained FIVE fatal shark attacks in ten months. The shark was apparently known to the people who lived in the area, who call him "Brutus."

Now hunts have begun to catch and kill this deadly shark. Apparently, though, many people don't think the shark deserves to die. Here's a snapshot of a few facebook comments I found about this subject on 7/17:

I've put the text of the first page of comments at the bottom of this email. Honestly, I'm afraid while reading the callousness and only superficial sympathy in most of these comments. This young man was BITTEN IN HALF. He DIED. He had a family and a life. And since I'm a Christian I can't help wondering where he went, and just praying he is in a good place. How unimaginably horrific.

Yes, the shark was doing what sharks do. But I'm sorry, if it's nearby, it needs to be destroyed to prevent even more deaths. No brainer. Sorry Brutus. It's not your fault that you attack this guy, but I value human life more than yours.


Text of first page of comments:

‎"We're gonna need a bigger boat"

Really?? Sharks live in oceans??? We should DEFINITELY go swimming/surfing in THOSE oceans!!!

Let the shark be!!!

Was the surfer in the water? Was the shark in the water? Then there was no news.

Sad that the surfer was killed, but I do not think it is our right as humans to track it down and kill it in return. The ocean is NOT our home, every time a human steps into the ocean, we are stepping into someone else's territory. I think they need to leave the shark alone and just shut down that beach for now, the shark will eventually lose interest because there is nothing there for it to feed on.

Why post this or put in the media. Shark attacks are rare but do happen when we enter their home. Putting it in national spot light only instill more fear about sharks which is not needed.

Leave the shark alone!! It's what they DO. How would you like someone coming into YOUR home and deciding to kill YOU. I am sad the surfer was killed, but that's no reason to kill sharks. It is idiotic and bad for the ocean ecosystem. Sh...arks have bad eyesight; when a surfer is on a surfboard he/she looks like a seal. They don't know any better. They aren't mindless killing machines. A shark takes one bite, realizes it's a mistake, and swims away. The only thing is that one bite is pretty big for a human. But that's not the shark's fault. We are beings who adapt and invent to fix our situations; don't be barbarians and just thirst for blood! Protect our sharks, they are beautiful and important creatures!

i am sorry this guy lost his life..at the same time..don't people understand..due to al the bad weather..and climactic changes..the poor animals and other creatures are trying to find other places to be.

I agree with all th prior posts. If you get killed my a lion or rhino in the african plains, you set yourself for it. If you killed by a shark in the ocean, you set yourself up for it! Animals of all kinds hunt and kill for survival, humans kill to be evil and vindictive.

Young leave the shark alone idiots

Sypathy and prayers for his family.

Someone died people! Some of your comments makes me want to feed you to a shark! If you guys did not know THERE ARE SHARKS IN THE OCEAN! im pretty positive surfers know this risk before hand. This is why I stick to pools!

They may not find the same shark. There are many out there and the ocean is big. I am sorry about his losing his life though. I know it was horrendous.

I don't want him dead, he didn't come on land to attack. When you go into a sharks living room I guess you take your chances. I for one am very sick and tired of animals paying for humans stupidity. How many dogs get put down because peo...ple are warned to stay away and they don't and get bitten and then it's the dogs fault. That poor woman in CT that was attacked by the chimp, the owner was warned, the chimp was being a chimp but he paid for the owners stupidity with his life and that poor woman's life will never ever be the same. People should be as smart as animals the world would be a better place.

Not the sharks fault, can we PLEASE STOP Jaws was just a movie. He went into the water and this happens sometimes. Sad, but you're in his territory.

All I am saying is that we should NEVER value animals over human life! .... it's a shark that attacked and killed human life, ..and I will come back to the same hunting grounds that it was successful at last time! .... We should treat it th...e same way we treat a bear that killed a hiker or camper in the woods, .. or a rapid wolf that killed in our back yard. .... These are NOT cute little doggies and kitty cats that were abused by humans and left to die in a shelter!!! It's not a teddy bear!
            These are wild predators that will remember where their last meal came from and go back there again! ... It's easy to defend the animal based on how humans treated nature, ..but the human was in the waters near the beach, ..near relatively shallow waters, .... near where small children and unsuspecting people cool off, ... not in the middle of the Pacific where the sharks are so post to live! .... Shark attacks are still considered an uncommon occurrence,...but it will become most common if humans allow a predator to prowl our waters again and again every time it's hungry, ..and other sharks will follow its lead and look for a human meal too! Wild life learns to adapt to its surrounds based on the basic need for food! .... if a shark is finding it's meals close to shore on human pray, ..then it's adapted the wrong way and should be removed to keep the HUMAN population safe. In return will save the lives of other sharks, ....by not allowing them to follow the lead of ONE bad shark!
            Are YOU ready to give up all hope of swimming at the beach simply because a viscous animal was mislead into a human meal!?? ....... if so, ... watch as the coast guard and every other public safety department ,... go's after shark, ...after shark, ...after shark, ....because nothing was done in the beginning to the first few that attacked our shores! it's great to be an animal lover, .. I love wildlife too, ...but it's terrible that some people ( or most ) seem to respect and love animals more than humans or their own families! ... we should all consider how we would feel if it were YOUR family member .... a child, an uncle, a mom or dad, ..who's life was cut short ...due to a misplaced wondering shark that just happened to hunt near the beach! .... how would you feel about the shark being there then? .... it didn't belong that close to shore, ... it hunted...and killed...yes that's what sharks do, ... but it was a human life, ..and the last thing any of you really want is to see more sharks killed by humans because more of them have learned to hunt in waters close to home! ....

Seriously. You should stop. You are not justifying your way of thinking at all. The difference between a bear attack and a shark attack is that a bear CAN come after humans on land and a bear is smart enough to do it again. A shark c...an not and will not prey on people. Well, unless you believe that Jaws was based on a true story. Oh and Darla, if it wasn't for the predators of the sea you would have all kinds of dead things floating and sitting on your beautiful beaches that you like to cool off in. Every animal on this planet has a purpose. Maybe we should kill all bees because they sting and sometimes that sting can kill! Without the bees, what would happen? Point is, this world does not evolve around us humans. The surfer was in the water, sharks live in the water, there has been several shark sitings in teh area where the surfer was, surfer was in the wrong place at the wrong time. We can not blame an animal that was only doing was is instinctual.

so sad!

very sad.

Why,,,,,, do they go there if they know, there are Shark,s!!!!!

aren't all shark attacks sudden...

He was surfing in the deadliest shark attacks areas in the world and he took his chance and lost. Don't bame the shark get over it

Why hunt the shark? Its his home. One swimming should take heed in their waters.

No Debbie the world doesn't revolve around humans, ....but the sharks are smarter than you think .... you don't give the animal enough credit. ...Just like the bear, ...that shark will find its way back to the waters it attacked in, .... wh...en it's hungry, ... it will go there again. The difference is, that people wrongfully feed the bears by leaving things behind or foolishly trying to approach it, .... the shark hunts humans because we look like pray. If the bear is killed due to human interference that's tragic for the bear ...( because the human was at fault for basically feeding it. ) If the human is killed due to a shark that hunted it.... then not only is that tragic for the human, ...but for the shark too!
            Allowing the shark to adapt to human pray as a source of food is wrong and that's exactly what is happening, .... because people like you can't understand and respect nature for what it is.
            Get real! ...stop with the fuzzy ( oh we must SAVE the poor shark! ) act and see it for the reality it is! ... it was one deadly shark attack on human life that will lead to more as long as humans allow it. .... Most of us love to go swimming at the beach, ... and THAT will not be possible years down the road when the shark population puts two & two together and treats us the way it treats seals! ...... I will not bother to re-post or comment any longer with you on the subject as it's useless to argue with a stranger over a simple difference of option. But personally, ... I DO hope that they catch the shark, ... find the remains of that poor boy for his family, ... and do something about monitoring future sharks in the waters near the beaches, ... so that humans can swim the waters safely and sharks can snack on what they are so post to!See More

I am sorry this happend to this family BUT WHY are they hunting to kill this shark? He was in his habitat and doing what wild animals do.

I thought the SEALS got Ben Linden.

They have to kill the shark because, like bears they remember their food source. It makes no sense to shut down the beach, sharks will only travel elsewhere. It all boils down to the decision beachgoers make.

You're gonna need a bigger BOARD...

I think that to many people feel like I am attacking the poor shark....when in fact...I am.trying to convince everyone that the death of one shark could help save others from making the same mistake again near our shores....and causing more of a toll on both humans and sharks!

They remember their food source...and the more it happens.... The worse it will be....and let's face it....the one thing that drives humans ...is money...the chances of officals closing down beaches due to sharks hunting us in the water....are slim to none...they will just go out and kill them all....and THAT WOULD be tragic!

they do remember their food source..BUT WE ARE NOT THEIR FOOD SOURCE! Once they take a bite of us, they know we're not food...not enough blubber...then they let go, unfortunately, they don't have hands, so the only way they know to test their food, is to bite it. Problem is we sometimes cannot survive the bite.

I.think that a hungry shark...will bite...and swallow ...anything it can get its mouth around and the second it tastes blood...it knows its food.... Simply put.... They have not found all the remains of the boy...... The shark can c...are less about blubber...I think its dangerous and foolish to assume WHAT a.shark will and will not except as food.... Theirs been more then a few attacks lately already this year...and countless close calls....if that's not proff enough for you...then go.swimming.

So sad!


and just to point out one more thing, ... that attack was off the cost of warm waters, .... blubber might not have been the sharks first priority, ... the shark saw the boy as a food source and if anyone thinks that it can tell the difference or care on way or the other, ...then your shark bate! Lol

and YES to the others, ... it IS very sad. .... God Bless that kid, .. I feel so sorry for his family.

sympathy for anyone that gets into shark infested waters and goes surfing and gets killed. stupid is as stupid does.

I.can NOT even believe that you frickin said that! .... Oh how I bet YOU would be singing a different tune if it was someone in YOUR family that died from an attack! ....so sorry that you have no feeling for humanity..and that people like you feel more for the frickin shark then the poor kid that died in its jaws! ...what a shame....

very sad.

Deadliest beach in the world?

I feel for the family and hope they find peace. However I read another story where Ben along with other surfers named the huge shark they saw in the waters Brutus. They saw this shark for a few days. So he knew the shark was there. The ...Ocean is the Ocean. When we enter it we know what lurks below. It's a risk we take. I hope they leave the shark a lone. Their are other places for swimming. Surfers know the risk. It's part of the love of surfing. R.I.P. Ben.

Thats a terrible way to die.

you need to spend less time posting on facebook, and more time learning spelling and grammar, good grief, I can't even bother to count all the errors, it's dizzying.

I could spell a four letter word for you very well....but a nasty comment like that would be a waste of my time...because its.clear that I could never measure up to your lack of class....it was a heated debate over an animal.....and... no matter what the difference of opinion was between me and others...not once did I attack anyone on this page..... It's an opinion....and clearly you need to grow up first before you lecture me on my spelling and gramor! ...

That's so sad. :(

It is very sad, but the area apperantly is known to be shark infested, the surfers know this and continue to surf that beach. Something tells me common-sense should have taken over the adrenaline rush of surfing in shark infested water. The Australians have great respect for these creatures and if they are hunting it down, it is for a reason, don't doubt that. The news media ofcourse are taking this way out of context.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Optimists Clubs of America

In many ways life is just too short to be lazy, shy, scared, mean, prideful, uncaring, angry, unloving and unloveable etc... so promise yourself the following:

~Promise Yourself~

To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.

To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person you meet.

To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.

To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.

To think only the best, to work only for the best, and expect only the best.

To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.

To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.

To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.

To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

~The Optimists Clubs of America~

Thursday, July 12, 2012

If God Loves Everyone, Where Does That Leave Me?

This article is by M. Blaine Smith, and reprinted from HERE. It raises an interesting question: If God loves EVERYONE, can He see me as an individual?

The language we use in modern Christianity to speak about God and his love for us often fails to do justice to the special ways he relates to us as individuals. I grew convinced of this after a woman once told me she had long resisted giving her life to Christ because God’s love seemed too universal to her.“For a long time I had no doubt that God loved me,” Nancy confessed, “but it made no difference to me--for the fact is that God loves everyone. And if God loves everybody, what’s so special about the fact that he loves me?”

Although I had never heard it expressed this way before, I realized immediately that Nancy had her point. Our manner of talking about God can imply that there’s no distinctiveness in a relationship with him. We speak of him loving everyone, and loving them equally, impartially, the same way. While the thought of God’s love being so inclusive is deeply comforting to some, others fear their individuality will be lost if they allow him to have much influence in their life.
We long for distinctiveness as human creatures--probably more than anything. We each want to know that we’re originals among the mass of humanity and not copies. We crave assurance that we’re unmatched by anyone else who has walked this earth, that we may know there is justification to our existence.

This urge for distinctiveness touches us on two levels. We long, on the one hand, to know that our work and accomplishment are unique--that we’re able to contribute something to human life that no one else can. But we also yearn for distinctiveness in relationships. Much of the thrill of being loved and cherished by someone is the sense of being special that goes along with it. You know that you’re accepted for who you are, and esteemed in a way that’s different from that person’s affection for anyone else.

Yet if God loves everyone in an equal, unbiased fashion, how can there be anything distinctive about a relationship with him? What’s so novel about receiving his love? What possibility for creative accomplishment is there in living for him? You’re simply one of the mass of believers, responding to a vast cosmic love force.

Nancy had put her finger on why it is that some people, though convinced that a loving God exists--perhaps even that he has revealed himself in Christ--still fail to give their life to him. It would mean losing their individuality, and entering a life of clonely conformity with others who have joined the Christian movement.

Nancy’s struggle also highlights why some believers actually bail out of their Christian walk. The chaplain of a large Christian university agreed with me, for instance, that the major reason some students on Christian campuses abandon their faith is that they see little distinctive about being Christian. On the secular campus, one may enjoy a cherished sense of rebellion by following Christ. At the Christian college, by contrast, everyone around you is a believer. If a student assumes that God loves him and his classmates all identically and has similar intentions for their lives, he may reach the fateful conclusion: individuality can only be found outside of a relationship with Christ.

From Despair to Distinction
Nancy, however, was no longer inclined to think of God and the Christian life this way. Her concept of God had grown and changed substantially, and she now viewed him much more personally than she first implied.

“I’ve finally come to realize that God does love me differently from any other person,” she continued. “I don’t mean that he loves me any more than anyone else, but distinctively. I’m convinced there is a portion of his love that is meant for me and for me alone.” She went on to explain that this insight had been the turning point for her, allowing her to enter a meaningful relationship with Christ.

The thought of God’s love being distinctive was revolutionary to me. But the more I’ve reflected on it, the more I’ve become convinced that this is exactly the outlook Scripture presents. God is pictured as one who loves each person equally, perfectly, completely, yet still in a fashion unique to that individual. There is a measure of his love meant for each of us alone.
On five occasions in his Gospel, for instance, John refers to himself as the disciple “whom Jesus loved” (Jn 13:23, 19:26, 20:2, 21:7, 21:20). John clearly didn’t mean that Jesus loved him more than anyone else. He notes that Jesus also loved Mary, Martha and Lazarus (Jn 11:5, 36), and all of his disciples (Jn 13:1). In his most far reaching statements, John quotes Jesus as saying that anyone who follows him will be loved by God (Jn 14:21), and that God through Christ loves the world (Jn 3:16).

Why, then, did John call himself the disciple whom Jesus loved? I believe he meant that Jesus’ love for him, while not exclusive, nor greater than his love for anyone else, was distinctive. Christ loved him in a way unique from his affection for any other person!
John surely would have thought it appropriate for Peter or any other disciple to make this claim. By the same token, it’s one that each of us who follows Christ can make for ourselves. The remarkable freedom John felt to refer to himself in this way suggests that we should think of ourselves likewise. “I am the disciple whom Jesus loves.” Such a conviction isn’t egotistical, but central to our self-image as Christians.

I’ve been intrigued to find no less a thinker than C. S. Lewis suggesting that God loves us in an individual manner. In The Problem of Pain he declares, “Why else were individuals created, but that God, loving all infinitely, should love each differently?”*

Many centuries before, St. Augustine expressed a similar understanding of God’s love in a prayer of his Confessions: “O Thou Good omnipotent, who so cares for every one of us, as if Thou cared for him only; and so for all, as if they were but one!”*

Equal But Not Identical
We can barely begin to fathom this dimension of God’s love. It is a deep mystery. But we can realize some of its implications.

For one thing, it gives us a basis for accepting our own distinctiveness. An important way that God shows his love for us is through the unique manner in which he creates and guides our lives (Ps 139, 1 Cor 12). While it is a lifetime task to fully understand the gifts and plans God has for each of us, we have a theological basis for taking that responsibility seriously, and for getting beyond any idea that the Christian life must be conformist.

For another thing, we have a basis for seeking an intimate personal relationship with Christ, knowing it will be different from any other Christian’s. C. S. Lewis suggests that we will enjoy a distinctive relationship with Christ even in eternity. Reflecting on Scripture’s promise that we will receive a new name in heaven (Rev 2:17), he predicts that there we each “shall forever know and praise some one aspect of the divine beauty better than any other creature can.”*
God’s distinctive love is also shown in how he nurtures and matures us, with a different pattern of growth for each of our lives. It may seem you’re not moving at a snail’s pace in some area where others are growing by leaps and bounds. Your friend has a devotional time for an hour every morning, while you struggle to concentrate for fifteen minutes. But other areas of growth come surprisingly quickly for you. You quickly overcome an addictive habit; you find an ability to share your faith that is out of all proportion with your shyness.

It can be so tempting to compare yourself with others at points of strength and weakness. Yet such comparisons are always meaningless. Even the person whom you most admire as a pinnacle of spiritual strength has plenty of vulnerable points.

The fact that God loves us distinctively inspires us also to accept the uniqueness he has given to other believers. And it saves us from thinking that we have to leave the Christian environment in order to salvage our individuality. The student on a Christian campus can know that while she shares something similar and vital with those around her, Christ’s relationship with her and his plan for her life are unique, as is true for each of her classmates. She can esteem her fellow students as individuals, and feel great freedom to be herself--where she is.

You and I should reflect often on God’s distinctive for us, and what it means for the life he has called us to live. Appreciating this aspect of God’s love will enrich our relationship with him in endless ways, and strengthen our ability to love others with the affection of Christ.

Monday, July 9, 2012

China Mart

I hope you forgive me for today's entry. A friend sent these photos to me of *mart* offerings in China. I am discombobulated.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Where Do You Plant Your Trees?

My husband's and my first house was a little townhouse about 20 minutes from the University where we both worked, me as a grad student, my husband for employment. It was perfect for us, small and secure and when we closed the door we were in our own little bubble. We bought it new, and everything worked. During the winters we burned an occasional log in the little fireplace in the basement.

When we moved, a young couple took over and dressed things up a bit -- new curtains in the window, a few flowers planted around the mailbox. They also planted a little willow in the front yard that looked so pretty, with droopy arched branches that swayed gracefully in the wind.

Flash forward about 15 years. While driving by for old times' sake, I was shocked to see that little tree had grown pretty big. The arched branches now blocked the windows. Although the tree itself was shapely, it no longer looked good where it was. I couldn't help thinking that if I owned the house again I'd want to remove it, but that wouldn't be an easy job with houses and cars so close together. And the tree stump? These are always a chore to grind, and leave a hold in the ground.

Although I have fond memories of that little house, happily it is no longer mine and I DON'T have to deal with that tree. Driving away, I couldn't help reflecting that lie is like that tree.

We often plant pretty little trees in our life: sports or hobbies, courses of study or people we befriend. These things when they appear are charming. However, it's important to remember that trees grow, and can outgrow their original purposes. Being on the college swim team is great, but if it prevents you from getting better grades maybe you'll regret it when you start looking for a job. A friend may be sunny and fun, but if you and the friend end up wasting a lot of time this may not be a good ultimate thing. If you decide to do anything for short term gain, without looking at the long term costs, you may ultimately regret that little tree.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Power's Out

My ideal, that I sometimes achieve, is to have a week or two of blogs already set up and ready to be automatically posted on the appointed days. Sadly, for the past few weeks I've let it go and am writing post-to-post. Normally that wouldn't be a problem, but a power outage complicates things. I'm writing this today, Sunday, at Starbucks. Happily I use an alphasmart for most of my non-internet writing, so am not frustrated that way.

Friday night the storm didn't seem THAT bad, but more than half a million people are said to have lost power. As I drove the streets on Saturday, I went past three intersections where cops were blocking parts of the roads for downed power lines. One sparking line let out an intermittent BOOK! that each time would shake the area. Numerous broken trees littered the streets and the lawns.

The power out makes me think about our lifestyle. Aside from not having internet to post blogs and keep up with correspondence, I don't mind not having it. Lights out is a pain, but it's summer so we have early mornings and long days, and candles, flashlights, and the kindle light for reading are adquate.

We get into more of a problem with food -- our freezer holds several (expensive) chicken breast trays and a steak, and we have bags of frozen vegetables for dinners. These are a loss.

The difficult part is water. We have well and septic, and when the electricity goes out, so does our water pump. No showers, no toilet flushing (without pouring pond water into the tank), no rinsing dishes or washing hands. We run a diesel-powered generator a few hours at a time so it's not total chaos, but certainly dicey.

As Americans, we are utterly dependent on electricity. People lived without it for thousands of years and did fine, but the way the infrastructure is set up here, you can't cook, you can't clean, you can't do anything without it.

Others around the world, including our beloved president, see Americans as energy hogs. Well, perhaps. But then again, with the way our infrastructure is set up, how can we live otherwise? Nothing works without electricity. We need cheap gas because stores and workplaces are too far away to walk.

If there were cheap, affordable green energy, people would buy it in a second. It's not that we're *bad* people, simply that we use the best options that are available. America has long been known as the land of the free and the home of the brave. That freedom and courage has translated into raising the living standards globally, not only in blood and treasure spent to liberate other countries, but in the simple ability of an African mission to refrigerate pharmaceuticals or an internet computer to communicate.

With freedom and free access to resoucres, these things will be invented, because in the past it has always been so. Over the last 200 years where have most of the world-changing inventions developed? The lightbulb. The automobile. The flush toilet. The airplane. The washing machine. Air conditioning. The computer. The internet. It doesn't help to guilt-trip and scold. Yes, there is tremendous waste in America. People buy iphones for their 12 year olds who promptly drop them in the pool. But really, I'd rather live with this potential for waste if it also means we move ahead.