…and I am so blessed

I promise to slow down on these blog entries soon, but sometimes, the (b)logjam breaks and the river of thought rages…

I’ve been concerned lately about one of my nieces. She’s a nurse, and she works really hard, and I’m envious of her because even on the worst day that I can imagine having in her line of work, she is doing something that she absolutely loves.

She lives in my area with her husband and kids, and I see her at church all the time, and at family gatherings, but lately not so much.

So the other day, I sent her a message:  “Sure have missed seeing you! Love you!”

To which she replied: “Missed seeing y’all, too. Found the culprit behind the migraines. Evidently I am pregnant. 11 weeks today. Feeling good, but exhasted and fight headaches. At least no nausea. Due in Jan. just wanted you to know. Love you”

Me: “Well, I think that’s GREAT!!!! Love you, too!”

(The next day)

“Early or late January?”

Her: “Mid. January 15”

“I’m so excited for you!”

“Us too!! I’m so much bigger than w/ the others, but I feel great! Just tired and headaches”

“i love you so much.”

“Thank you! I love you, too, you know!”

“i do know, and i am so blessed”

“are you working toinight?” (sic)

Do you see what I did? I mean, really, do you see what I did?

My niece shares this fantastic news, and says that she considers herself blessed. Why? Obviously, her pregnancy, her husband and kids, her family…her Uncle Scott

And what do I do? Act as if she’s someone I barely know and switch the entire flow and direction of the conversation.


First, I’m not knocking my niece or anyone else for saying it.

It’s not that anyone in my family ever took anything for granted. My dad and mom grew up during the Depression. Their stories of hardship – Dad (at maybe 14 years old), his mom, and his 3 little sisters having just a single boiled chicken – just chicken – to share at Christmas; Mom picking cotton as a little girl until her hands bled – were just so vivid, I suppose, that I realize I’ve never had to deal with true hardship. Their stories helped me understand that I have been blessed, and I thank God for His blessings each and every time I pray. But it’s just one of those things that I just don’t say in general conversation. Maybe on some level I’m a bit self-conscious about having been the recipient of so many rich blessings without having done without. I don’t know.

But I sit here at my desktop computer (because my laptop charger died) researching ObamaCare and expressing my unhappiness about it, debating as I shiver from the air conditioning whether or not to get up and raise the thermostat in this house Yvonne and I built a little over 9 years ago, eagerly anticipating next Friday, when we leave for a 2-week Alaska vacation as an early celebration of our 25th wedding anniversary, listening to Michael play the X-Box 360 in his room and hearing Lisa laugh in the living room while she watches TV and surfs the internet on her Mac laptop, walking into the family room and seeing Yvonne asleep on the couch, knowing that I serve a loving God who is always willing to forgive me…

…and I am so blessed.

Wherefore art thou, Civility?

It’s a few months before the 2012 elections, and I’ve been reading about a couple of U.S. Senate debates in which the candidates have traded accusations about each others’ intentions and plans for the country when they get into office. One guy (“Challenger”) is accusing the other (“Incumbent”) of wanting to maintain the status quo regarding social policies (“things are fine, no changes are needed”), while Incumbent says that Challenger’s plans for change would bring about the Apocalypse. It’s my opinion that both Incumbent and Challenger – some backwoods lawyer named Abraham Lincoln – believe that their desired course is best for the country.

Even before Mssrs. Lincoln and Douglas squared off for their debates, politics has been a dirty business (think Julius Caesar, Ides of March, etc.).

But in this year, 2012, I’m appalled at the out-and-out lack of civility that we, Americans all, are exhibiting toward each other.

I will say up front that I’m conservative in matters concerning both religion and politics, and that, in my opinion, both the Bible and the U.S. Constitution say what they say, and that it’s not really in the realm of my authority to determine which parts of either one should be disregarded, nor would I want the weight of those ramifications to be on my shoulders.

It’s a human trait, I suppose, that when one is vested deeply in a particular ideology, either religion, politics, or some combination thereof, it’s difficult to even try to see an issue from another’s vantage point. At the same time, in our age of “enlightenment”, we Americans don’t even seem to be trying. We are showing such disregard for each other, and vitriol toward each other that it sickens me. I’m tired of it.

This used to be a lot longer, but let me end by saying this: In matters of faith and politics, you are free to agree with me or not. I will not think the poorer of you if disagree, but ask that you afford me the same consideration. Our disagreements do not make either of us stupid, uncaring or any of the other invectives being bandied about. They just make us different.

Finally, a few words to ponder:

“Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies, The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”
—C.S. Lewis

“Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.”
—William Pitt, 11/18/1783

“The unity of freedom has never relied on uniformity of opinion.
—John F. Kennedy

“People demand freedom of speech to make up for the freedom of thought which they avoid.
—Soren Keirkgaard
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“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.
—John Adams, Second President of the USA.

“I predict future happiness for Americans, if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”
—Thomas Jefferson

The Bear Facts

When I was in 7th grade in Bryson, Texas, I went with my class on an outing on a little creek that wound through a park in nearby Graham. We hadn’t gone more than about 100 feet when my canoe-buddy dropped his oar in the water and attempted to reach waaaaaaaay out there to get it. Next thing I know, I’m swimming to the bank. Since that time, I have yet to get in a raft or canoe on any river, calm or gently rushing, without falling into said river.

Another trip, before I met Yvonne, was down a  nearly stagnant, mosquito-infested “creek” in the Beaumont, Texas area. The young woman with whom I shared a canoe had never been in one before. No problem, because I, the seasoned veteran, had canoed(?) 3 or 4 times before. She, on the other hand, had never set foot off dry land (apparently), and seemed hesitant to offend the creek by dipping a paddle in and disturbing it.

For the next couple of hours, I did nothing but paddle as she held tightly to the sides of the canoe. When we got to the end of the trip, we pulled up to a little wooden dock. I grabbed a line that was hanging over the side and into the water and held the canoe steady while she stepped up onto it, and watched as she rapidly walked away. Of course, as I tried to step up the canoe drifted away from the dock and I fell in.

Several other trips, same outcome.

I told you this to establish my track record and to explain why I’m a tad nervous about the “float” trip that Yvonne and I are going to take when we go to Alaska in two weeks. History seem to dictate that I’ll end up in the water, and that the story, “someday ages and ages hence”, will be told something like this…

“So one day, I’m sauntering down to the riverbank, enjoying the scenery and wondering ‘twigs and berries or rainbow trout…wait…maybe king salmon …no…pink…PINK salmon…for dinner‘, and as I get to the bank, THIS thing drags itself up out of the water, looking all waterlogged and half-drowned.  So I say to myself, ‘Hey, I have an adventurous palate, and I’m always open to a new taste treat…’  Well, about that time, our eyes locked, and it made this..this…sound – about the closest thing I can compare it to is an eagle’s screech, except this was long and drawn out. Anyhoooooo, it drags itself to its feet and begins to run! But it wasn’t real fast, and I was laughing so hard at the zigzag escape pattern – they all try that, you know – laughing so hard that I could barely stand up, so I let it run a bit just so it would think it had a chance of escaping. I still caught it after about 30 yards or so. Then it gave another of those screech sounds and messed itself. So, you know, I just tore off its outer skins and took and washed it in the river, and you know what? It wasn’t half bad! Tasted – heck, fought – like a baby seal, but a little tougher., texture-wise…'”

And in my mind’s eye, I see the bear recounting this story over and over again, and laughing about it with his cubs and grandcubs, and with his buddies as they enjoy one more martini before settling down for their long winter’s nap. My only hope is that the salmon runs (King, Red, Pink, Silver and Chum) are over before we get there, or begin after we leave.

Great. Just checked the salmon run dates. Pretty much solid for the month of July. I have a really bad feeling about this.