Apr 26, 2010

I Care More Than You!

"I love mankind; it's people I can't stand." - Linus VanPelt

Thinking requires less work than doing. "Loving mankind" reflects intentions or altruistic feelings. Feelings are fickle, fleeting, and frankly aren't worth a hill of beans.

True love involves work. You DO things for the people you love. And sometimes for the ugly people, the mean people, the ones who do nothing and never will do anything for you. That's love.

It's easier to care about the Rainforest than to clean your room. Caring doesn't involve work.

It's easier to wear a pink ribbon, and feel self-righteous about it, than to empty the puke pail of a breast cancer patient on chemo.

But nobody sees the puke pail. People SEE the ribbon. It shows how much you CARE. It does not, however, show how much you DO. If you need an audience, then reexamine your motives.

"The proof of love is in the works. Where love exists, it works great things. But when it ceases to act, it ceases to exist." -- Pope St. Gregory the Great

What are you going to DO today, to show your love?

Apr 25, 2010

The Whiner's Club

When I was young, I thought it would be cool to be a psychiatrist, because of their phenomenal hourly rate of pay. As I acquired wisdom, I realized that I had no interest whatsover in listening to people complain, no matter what the pay. Maybe they don't really listen. I don't know, but it's not something I could do. After a while I'd lose patience like Jesus at the Pool of Bethesda (John 15:1-8) and ask, "Do you really want to get well???"

There can be some therapeutic value to having others share your tale of woe. It's nice, I suppose, to know you're not the only one suffering a particular fate. A program called "Rainbows for All God's Children" exists in schools purportedly to help children deal with loss. ("Boo hoo, my parents are divorced." "Boo hoo, mine are too.")

Whatever. Let's get on with our lives instead of celebrating our victimhood, shall we?

Shel Silverstein wrote a poem called "Complainin' Jack" that sums up my feelings pretty well:

This morning my old jack-in-the-box
Popped out - and wouldn't get back in the box.
He cried, "Hey, there's a tack in the box,
And it's cutting me through and through.

"There also is a crack in the box,
And I never find a snack in the box,
And sometimes I hear a quack in the box,
'Cause a duck lives in here too."

Complain, complain is all he did -
I finally had to close the lid."

My kids are pretty good at complaining. Sometimes I just have to close the lid because I can't listen to it any more. When they have kids, they'll probably say idiotic things like "When I was your age..." because as you grow wisdom, you see what others are doing wrong.

Except they see it as you, complaining.
And they shut the lid.

What good things do you have to say today?

Apr 23, 2010

An Urgent Life

Just when I get a sense of urgency to do something, to make a difference, to tie up loose ends, along comes Cliff at Halfpasthuman.com, predicting World War 3.

He says that on Nov 8 of this year, Iran & Iraq will be at war, drawing in the rest of the world.

Maybe it's true. Maybe it's not. Cliff has a lot more information and insight on the subject than do I, so I won't try to refute him. Instead, I'm going to pose these questions:

What if you "knew" you had 6 months to live? What would you do? What would you do differently? Where would you go? Who would you call? What would you say?

Rupert Holmes wrote a song in the 70s called "Drop It." One line went like this:

Why not blow
a wad of dough
and see the world at large?
If the world should end
We shall know, my friend,
that we both beat out MasterCharge.

Ok, it's a fantasy. We don't "know." It would be foolish, from a fiscal viewpoint, to spend my retirement savings on a Caribbean cruise, just in case the world ends. I am obligated to act as though I will live to retirement, and to prepare accordingly.

In reality, I'd pretty much keep on doing what I do every day: loving my husband and children, expecting and encouraging only the best from them, having an occasional lunch with my girlfriends, teaching, and striving every day to make a positive difference in the lives of those whom God sets in my path.

Within the parameters of Stewardship and responsible behavior, what would you do with your last 6 months?

Can you stop Iran from nuking Israel? I can't.
I know that I cannot change the world. I can only change the world around me.

What difference will you make on the world around you today?

Apr 16, 2010

Practical Babies

Every time I pass by the baby section at the store, I wistfully long for a baby for whom to buy all this cute, cute stuff. Then I push my buggy on to the aisles of laundry detergent and canned goods. It is no mystery that if I actually had someone for whom to buy the frilly dresses, I wouldn't. I'd buy diapers.

When my oldest daughter was born, I had all the fru-fru outfits there were, gifts from friends and relatives, but she had no socks that fit. Her feet were so tiny, all the socks fell off her feet. A Norwegian girl named Bente went out and bought my baby tiny little socks. I still have those socks, and I still call them "Bente socks."

The practical, meeting-needs kind of gifts are the ones we remember. When my third child was 4, her sister was born. The best gift was not a fru-fru outfit for the baby, it was my mother in law taking the older girl out to lunch so I could nap with the baby. It was my sister coming over & feeding the others so I could sit on my butt and feed the baby.

I don't remember the fru frus. I remember the ones who met a desperate need.

I tend to be practical, anyway. When my 5th child was born, I changed the outgoing message on the answering machine to announce, "If you want to see the new baby, the price of admission is a gallon of milk. Don't show up empty handed."

It usually takes a baby or two to learn what your baby needs and what is just junk. Babies need a lot less than you think.

My sister calls those dresses "Grandma bait." It will be interesting to see if I fall for it when I'm a grandma. Perhaps, if the child already has diapers, socks that fit, and mama has sufficient rest and a casserole.

And if the dress is machine washable.

Some personality traits don't change. What practical needs will you meet today?

Apr 13, 2010

Merit Pay for Teachers?

Teachers, contrary to critics' reports, are not "afraid" of merit pay. The issue is not fear - it's fairness. Teachers know what goes on in a classroom.

Did the critics spend time trying to contact a student's mother whose phone is disconnected? Did they write notes home that mom never saw, or perhaps was unable to read? Did the critics sling green beans in the cafeteria and wipe down tables because the budget cuts have left all the front lines shorthanded? Did the critics spend a day supervising OCS with a girl whose attire, behavior, and language screams "Notice me!" Did the critics break up a line of boys standing in front of the girls' restroom, where they could have favors for a quarter, and wonder what kind of family does a girl go home to, that she values herself so little?

All I'm saying is, there are some things that go on in school that have nothing to do with tested outcomes. There are plenty of cultural factors that affect learning that the teacher can't control.

Every kid doesn't come from a nice, middle class suburban neighborhood with parents who feed him a good breakfast, dress him properly, drive him to school, volunteer on Field Day, and help him with his homework. If you did or yours does, congratulations. Count yourself blessed.

And let the rest of the children whose family does not value education have a teacher who is there by Divine calling, and who deserves not merit pay based on things outside of her control, but combat pay for showing up and doing her best.

And then doing it again the next day.

And the next.

Apr 3, 2010

Peep Jousting - an Easter Tradition

Family traditions are important, because they give us something to look forward to each year. Something fun and predictable will happen at the same time each year, like birthday cakes and Christmas trees.

Some families dye eggs on the day before Easter. Not us. Not that we don't like coloring eggs, but it seemed that we just don't like to eat boiled eggs. So we ditched the egg coloring. Now we joust Peeps. It's fun, whimsical, delicious, and gives the kids bragging rights. It goes like this:

1. Face off two peeps on a glass plate. Each has a toothpick under his wing.
2. Microwave for a minute or less. Everyone crowd around and watch.
3. The Peeps will expand from the heat. The one that gets popped by the other's sword, loses.
4. The Peeps taste like roasted marshmallows. Enjoy!

Apr 2, 2010

Scattered or Focused?

"Success demands singleness of purpose." -Vince Lombardi

You'll never be good at something, if it's not important enough to you to devote the required time and effort. You'll never be excellent at something, if it's not your primary focus.

Working moms have the worst dilemma - worrying about the family while at work. The daycare calls; your child is sick. Come get him now, they say. Yeah, and just how do I leave and not lose my job?

How do you balance work and family and still do a half-way decent job at either?

Having it all is a myth. It was designed by the feminists to make stay-at-home moms feel guilty for not fulfilling themselves with a career (ie: not being selfish). The fact is, you have to choose which is more important. Is your focus job or family?

If your focus is job, don't apologize. Do your job with excellence. Get some help (nanny, relatives, neighbor) to help look after your children. Do the best you can with what you have.

If your focus is family, don't apologize. Do your job with excellence. Help look after other people's children for some extra money or volunteer your time at school. Do the best you can with what you have.

Choose this day whom you will serve. And then serve with excellence.

On what will you focus today?