Tuesday, December 27, 2005

In Memorium, Courtney Kathleen Marsh, February 16, 1992 to December 26, 1993. She was our baby.

Had a friend.
He married his high school sweetheart.
The year he turned 38, his first child started college, the second high school.
"Feels so empty" he said
"You'll understand."

I married later,
To someone I wish I'd known from childhood.
The year I turned 38, buried two children, lost another from miscarriage.
Feels so empty
I understand.

I wrote that, obviously, before we had the rest of the miscarriages and had buried Robin. I think I'll go listen to Felicia whose music is sadly out of print.

But I remember her this day, in joy and in sorrow, always a part of my life, always with a place in my heart.

The hundred dollar Christmas -- how someone did all of Christmas for under a hundred dollars and had joy in the holiday.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

My daughter Jessica had a problem with compassion. She just didn't have it. So, once a month, we would buy, cook and serve dinner at the homeless shelter in Wichita Falls -- a meal for about seventy people. The service and experience touched her and taught her the compassion we weren't able to convey by just hoping and talking. Doing was what she needed.

At this time of year I think of her. Especially as I read about all the people who go out to homeless shelters once a year (on either Thanksgiving or Christmas), listen to cynics ask "don't the homeless need to eat during the rest of the year?" and miss her, I think of her.

Our hearts couldn't take returning to the shelter without her after she died, though our congregation took over. Thinking about the experience again, I remembered the importance of finding things to do with children -- and with adults -- to teach them when other methods fail. Sometimes talking is just not enough, though many things we do communicate better if we explain or label them.

We continue to do things with our children, and to explain the things we are doing, but my heart still remembers, especially this time of year. It is, after all, a season of hope and of the heart.

I was visiting at Wolf Angel again. I always have liked the blog's name. For some reason I can't get the comments to display. I've been thinking and reflecting a great deal. I'll post as I have concrete things to say, but there is more to say on many things, including more on the difference between spiritual, religious and social issues.

The differences are often important in churches from a conflict resolution viewpoint and in health care from a patient and family care perspective.

May this season nourish you in all areas, and may the differences in it give you joy and delight.


Sunday, December 18, 2005

Come, Thou fount of every blessing,
      tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
      call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
      sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it,
      mount of Thy redeeming love.

Here I raise my Ebenezer;
      here by Thy great help I've come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
      safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
      wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
      interposed His precious blood.

Oh to grace how great a debtor,
      daily I'm constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
      bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
      prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, Oh take and seal it,
      seal it for Thy courts above.

John Wyeth

This time of year has so many emotions for me, both good and difficult.

This week I had to leave work to get Rachel from school with flu-like symptoms. Both Courtney and Jessica's final illnesses started that way, so that sort of thing has an emotional resonance. The call about my five-year-old brought all those memories to the top. By the time I got to her school, she had recovered and they had sent her back to class. She bounces back so quickly that it is surprising (I was only fifteen minutes away, especially at that time of day when traffic is light).

Of course she had been in the nurse's office longer, they hadn't been able to reach her mother or her sister. In their minds, of course a dad is called last, which when I'm in court or teaching a class is probably the way my wife thinks it ought to be. I no longer have the emotional load I once had, but the ghosts of memory are still bitter sweet.

A friend's son had a kid who had lived in the Wichita Falls area in one of his college classes. He told his mom that he told her that he knew someone who had lived in Wichita Falls and she told him she had been one of Jessica's friends at Church. In the middle of his mom telling the story, it seemed to suddenly hit home to her that Jessica was real.

Perspective is a funny thing, the way it comes upon us.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The means by which we live our lives are the ends that our lives serve. We may hear the old saying "the ends justify the means" but the reality is that the means become the ends that our lives are about. Even more for those who believe that there is a God and that we are passing through this life for many reasons, including judgment, the ends that we seek are the means by which we seek them.

That a life will be spent in the pursuit of means that make life better off not having been lived is the great peril faced by those who feel that the end justifies the means; they lose track of the reality that the means we use are the ends we are seeking, no matter what we may tell ourselves.

Understanding that the means we use are the ends we are seeking is the key to recognition and will. If you've read what I've written about acceptance and forgiveness you will recognize that both acceptance and forgiveness requires, at some point, a recognition sufficient that it causes a change.

Without a change in the manner of action, we have not forgiven ourselves, we have not found freedom, we have not accepted. It is the change that recognition creates that becomes the end that our life serves, which means that the way we act and the means that we use when we act remain the true ends that we seek.

There is a reason that peacemakers are blessed, and are called the children of God.

Yes, I mean that whether or not we support or suborn torture, that whether or not we are kind to those who we judge not to deserve it, that whether we overcome despair or are swallowed by it whole, especially in this season, in some part rests on recognition, will, acceptance and forgiveness.

I mean all of those things, because I mean that a key lesson in life is learning that our means are our ends.

For some interesting links, intended to create thought, not provide answers, death penalty discussion and more on the topic, trolls (who need to learn this lesson), ethesis, perseverance and torture.

And, as always, ozarque, a living saint.

May your means and ends be peaceful in this season.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The diet is working. I'm amazed at how differently I think and feel about

The sixteen pounds I've lost in about thirty days are a nice side effect,
but what has been very interesting are the mental changes.

For more information, see:

  • Calorie Lab

    • A long discussion with a lot of comments following afterwards.

[Update: I lost sixteen pounds the first thirty days, then ten pounds the second thirty, and four-five pounds the third thirty days. I'm now losing about a pound a week, which fits with the total calories that I'm eating. I no longer feel like I'm on a diet, what I eat is just the food I eat normally and I'm happy with it. I'm also in an OA group, which has really helped me deal with the emotions that eating was submerging. It got me through the holidays and the memories of my three dead children.]

BTW: Seth's book at Amazon.com.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

In the rising of the sun and its going down,
We remember them.

In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter,
We will remember them.

In the opening buds and in the rebirth of spring,
We remember them.

In the blueness of the sky and in the warmth of summer,
We remember them.

In the rustling of leaves and in the beauty of autumn,
We remember them.

In the beginning of the year and when it ends,
We will remember them.

When we are weary and in need of strength,
We will remember them.

When we are lost and are sick of heart,
We remember them.

When we have Joys we yearn to share,
We remember them.

So long as we live, they too shall live,
For they are now a part of us,
As we remember them.

Traditional Jewish Prayerbook remembrance, Candle Lighting Ceremony for Journey of Hope.

In memorium

Jessica Christine Marsh, February 12, 1986 to January 26, 1993
Courtney Kathleen Marsh, February 16, 1992 to December 26, 1993
Robin Elizabeth Marsh, July 6, 1997 to August 31, 1997

I remember them.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Linguistics; propaganda; "Dad, I need 80 bucks...."

I don't know what you think of that "Dad, I need 80 bucks.." Ameritrade commercial running on CNN and the other news channels right now; I know what I think of it. It turns my stomach.

When the teenage girl tells her Dad she needs 80 bucks for a pair of jeans that she has to have because everybody has them, Dad asks her who the designer is, runs to his laptop and orders 100 shares of the designer's stock, and turns over the 80 bucks -- which, needless to say, he has right there in his pocket.

Not even one of the dialogues below takes place [and should be what really happens].

TEEN: "Dad, I need 80 bucks."
DAD: "You don't need 80 bucks. You want 80 bucks."

TEEN: "There's these jeans....."
DAD: "And you have to have them."
TEEN: "Yes."
DAD: "You don't have to have them, you want to have them."

DAD: "Do your friends have them?"
TEEN: "Everybody has them!"
DAD: "Then shame on their parents."

DAD: "Like you don't have enough jeans."
TEEN: "So, can I have the 80 bucks?"
DAD: "Absolutely not. All the kids in this world that don't even have clean water to drink, and you want 80-dollar designer jeans? No way. Go wash your mouth out with soap."

Quoting Ozarque.

Do you ever worry that your kids will grow up spoiled? I fear it.

BTW, for a good charity (when you are looking for something to remind yourself of why you are grateful):

Donations for the Pine Ridge problem would go to the Link Center Foundation, P.O. Box 2253, Longmont, CO 80502-2253, with the check or money order marked "Elders Heating Fund."

I can't vouch for the charity personally. The information comes from a Native American source. There's a website for the Link Center at http://www.LinkCenterFoundation.com.

Direct Link to the project.


BTW, I do have a teenage daughter and when I talked with my wife about this commercial it was more on the line of but gosh, that is a funny thing to see on TV.

A lot of it is relative. My current boss used to work in men's clothes. He just can't bring himself to pay retail for clothing. I've lost a fair amount of weight, but I buy my non-work clothes from Wrangler ($15.00 a pair for pants) and my dress pants from Lands End. But, I know that sometimes, if you want fit and appropriate clothing that is going to last, you can end up paying money. Might be $20.00 for a dress at Nordstrom's Rack, might be ten times that (or more). I know that things I think of as essential are someone else's luxury.

I've read Shantaram and my parents served most of one of their missions in Tanzania. But, the issue, of how not to spoil your children, is significant to me.

We used to share our chapel with a ward that had pro sports players (active and retired) in it and others at a similar income level. People that buy the $200.00 jeans and think of the $80.00 ones as the cheap ones. Some of the people were great, but some walked out on their turn to do the dishes at girls' camp. I don't want my children to be like that, especially now that we are better off than we were.

Anyway, just thinking on the topic of kids wanting things, "needing" things, and being a parent. My teenager is preternatural. It is the five-year old (almost six) who worries me, who always asks for things. I worry about raising her.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

I realized I had robbed so much by looking to criticize in everything ... That is the way I guy in my men’s group began before he did a reading:

Acceptance is the answer to my problems.

I can not find serenity until I accept that persons, places, things or situations that are unacceptable to me are as they should be at this moment.

Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I accept my weaknesses, I can not overcome them. Until I accept life completely, on life’s own terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed int eh world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.

The more I focus on defects, the more they grow and multiply.

The courage to change is the courage I need from God to change myself, to learn to accept and to focus on what is good to watch it grow and multiply.

Active acceptance is th key to my relationship with God today. I never just sit and do nothing while waiting for Him to tell me what to do. Rather, I do whatever is in front of me to be done, and I leave the results up to God. However it turns out, it is His will for me.

I found it striking, as I did his discussion and what I learned from it.

Acceptance goes hand in hand with forgiving yourself of the pain that you have sufferred. We forgive others in order to be forgiven, by ourselves as well as by God, in order to accept His love for us and the hope that is in Him.

Especially in this season, may you find acceptance.