Friday, July 30, 2010

How High's the Water, Mama?

The Cash family had first-hand experience with farm and flood. Johnny turned that experience into a song. Whatta voice he had!

I'm not a song writer. But I'm here to say that it's green all around us. Some of you might ask, "Isn't Iowa always green? At least during mid-summer?"And my answer is, "It depends!" It depends on whether we're in a wet cycle or a dry cycle.

I really don't know how farmers deal with the vagaries of weather. Some years we have drought. Some years we have too much rain. These days we're getting more than enough moisture and we've ended June and July with well above average rainfall. (Don't can click on the photos for closeups.)

There have been flood warnings all around us this spring and summer. We had our own flood warning this past couple days for the little river just east of us. But I'm thinking the water could have gotten a bit higher before any actual flooding would have occured. I say that because the water is still below the berms. And the dike itself is higher than the berms. This river could still hold more water...water that would cover the berms and extend from dike to dike. Unless, of course, water in side ditches could back up onto cropland.

You might wonder about all those hay bales strung out the length of the berm. Local farmers contract to cut the grass for hay. I'm thinking...hmmm, what a mess that would be if the water were to rise high enough to move those bales downstream. But perhaps they are too heavy to float? Are there any farmers out there with an answer as to the floatability of heavy hay bales?

In the above photo you can see that the water level in the ditch is actually higher than the adjacent field. Water flows downhill, folks. If, due to drainage from upstream, the water level in the drainage ditch is already higher than the pipes that empty into it...well, the fields and ditches just don't drain.

Look carefully at the above photo. What you see is a tube draining into this larger ditch from the smaller field or road ditches. If the main ditch is already higher than the water in the field...well... that means no drainage for the field.

This year many fields have low spots. These are areas where beans or corn have simply drowned in standing water. But for the most part the fields in this part of the country are lush and green and farmers will have bumper crops. (That doesn't console the poor farmer whose entire field has drowned out.)

One aspect of this weather that affects us personally is that mosquitoes love (as in LUV) wet weather. Our city sprays for mosquitoes and still, those mean critters are fiercely seeking whom to devour.

Hmmm, "seeking to devour" reminds me of 1 Peter 5:8 wherein the devil is described as an adversary who "prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour". Like the mosquitoes, he knows his time is limited and he stalks us fiercely.

Thankfully, Scripture tells us that the reason Christ came into the world was "to destroy the works of the devil" 1 John 3:8. That's good news, for the work of the devil has brought death to mankind. But Jesus came to destroy the devil's work, to destroy death, and to give us life. That's really, really good news.

And, Oh! That word "vagaries" ? According to Miriam-Webster, the word "vagary" (its singular form), is probably from Latin vagari to wander, from vagus wandering. From about 1579. Definition: An erratic, unpredictable, or extravagant manifestation, action, or notion. Aren't old words fun?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Oh, How We Do Love to Hate!

It seems everyone believes everything in today's news world. Or, perhaps I should say, it seems everyone believes anything. The media tosses us bits and pieces, quotes and semi-quotes, accusations and inferences...and all without accurate documention and without indepth review and investigation. And we gobble it up with self-righteous indignation. Pointing our fingers. Accusing. Killing with words, if you please.

Take for instance the recent "out of context" video of USDA employee Shirley Sherrod as she spoke of her dealings with a farmer that happened some 24 years ago! The words as posted on the recent video sound so blatantly rascist! Ah, toss these few rascist sounding crumbs to the masses! They'll believe it and Ms. Sherrod will get her rascist come-uppance. And while that is happening, the incident can be used to slam the NAACP as well, for the words were spoken this past spring at an NAACP convention in Georgia. How dare she! How dare they! (That was the intent of the poster of the accuse! And all the while to happily not mention the full context of the speech nor her resulting conclusion at the end of her speech.)

Everyone jumped with knee-jerk reaction to become "accuser". No need to investigate the entirety of the speech. Simply jump quickly to "accuser" lest oneself be implicated by association!

Included in that "everyone" is her boss, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. And included was probably your favorite news network. And included is the NAACP, who of all those concerned, should have been aware of her remarks in their entire context.

Didn't ANYONE think to themselves..."Wait a minute, we should view the entire speech to ensure these few brief words are not out of context! Perhaps there is more than meets the eye (or ear)!"

But that's how we Americans like our news. Bits and pieces. Sound bites. You tube. Just give us a brief few words and we'll condemn anyone about anything. No need to consider the full evidence. We're self-righteous enough ourselves to be able to determine "guilt" when we see (hear) it. No matter that we destroy someone's career or livelihood or assassinate their character every ten minutes on national news networks by repeating the words over and over and over again. Repetition makes it true. Doesn't it?

What kind of hate is it in this country that we must continually find reasons to accuse someone else of "hatred"? Isn't our own evidence-lacking accusation in and of itself "hatred"?

Thank you, Associated Press, for today's article explaining the full context of Sherrod's speech...and taking the time to find the wife of that 1986 farmer. She spoke these words in defense of Sherrod...""We probably wouldn't have (our farm) today if it hadn't been for her leading us in the right direction. I wish she could get her job back because she was good to us, I tell you."


Monday, July 19, 2010

Off the Horizon

Nudges in the ribs...that's what I've been getting...kindly nudges in the ribs. Both by email and by comments left here on my blog. A couple of you are wondering if I've succumbed or fallen off the edge of the earth. And so, in your kindness, you nudge and say, "Hey, what's up with you? Haven't heard from you lately. Hope you're okay!"

I know. I've been a bit slack this past couple weeks. And in prior posts I had mentioned health problems. So now I need to assure you that, yes, we are well at our house, in spite of multiple medical appointments, chemo, etc.

It's just's just that my "blog brain" has been slack lately. And I'm reluctant to blog about every little health concern. It's bad enough that I have been dealing with cancer for a year and a half now. I dislike intensely that it has become the center of conversation in our lives and so I avoid talking "health". I'm tired of the chemo, of being bald, of wondering what the next blood test will reveal. And so, I try to forget about it.

So...what else is new in life? Ah, the yard! Yesterday I brought home two large potted plants that were 90 percent off at the local hardware store that sells nursery stock every spring. They looked a bit bedraggled but I gave them a haircut and a trim with my kitchen shears and they will recuperate fully and be blooming within two weeks. I'm certain of it. (You can't see them here...this is simply a photo of our back yard after last night's thunderstorm.)

Last night! At 3:00 AM! A doozy of a thunderstorm rolled through town, popping thunder loud enough that I turned off the computer and unplugged everything to do with it, including the phone line. I have a surge protector but my skeptical nature tells me even those sometimes fail to do their job.

It's still kinda gray and wet outside...and even though Hubby tells me we're in for rain all day, I'm hanging my bet on the old saying, "Rain before seven, over by eleven." I'll fudge a bit and say, "Over by 1 PM."

We'll see who's or the radar. *smile*


Saturday, July 10, 2010

A String of Thoughts and a Concluding Rant

Friday in the chemo chair I visited with a breast cancer patient who lives up the road aways. My trip is a blessed two blocks. She has to drive 26 miles. But even so, she was grateful that we have a clinic so close by. And that they pamper us like crazy! Coffee and cookies! Lunch of choice! Cozy, home-town environment!

Ms. D and I had met a couple times before while we were doing blood draws, but this was our first "long" visit in the chair...although I did sleep much of the time and perhaps she did as well. (I hope I didn't snore!)

Ms. D, as I mentioned, is a breast cancer patient. She had both breasts removed simultaneously. Many BC patients choose to have reconstruction surgery. Remove 'em. Replace 'em. Sometimes one at a time. And sometimes with not one, but multiple surgeries. And Ms. D confided that, initially, this is what she thought she would do. And then she decided, "Nah, she didn't need 'em." Any surgery has its risks and potential complications. Any surgery is a blow to the body. And so she decided not. She's happily married. Her hubby is happy she's alive. She says a padded bra functions easily and nicely in regards to making her clothing fit well and look nice. (This is not meant as an argument against such surgery...I'm just stating Ms. D's decision and her reasons. And it seems perfectly reasonable to reconstruct when only one breast has been removed or even for emotional well-being! Having cancer is bad's nice to look and feel "normal", although "normal" never seems to arrive for most cancer's always on the mind. Always!)

Hers seemed like a sensible decision to me. Because I had thought about that...what if my cancer were BC instead of ovarian cancer? Would I choose reconstruction. And I reasoned, "Nah, I don't need 'em." In fact, I thought it might be a little freeing. (Oh, My, on my first try I typed freezing! Had to giggle about that one!)

You may wonder why I am mentioning all this.

It's like this. I was at the grocery store this morning, standing in the checkout line. There was the usual assortment of glitzy girly magazines. Photos of bikini girls on the cover. Every Cover!!!

And I thought to myself how sad it is that so many young women do not feel "womanly" unless they can blatantly display their womanly wares. And how sad it is that so many women feel they need breast augmentation in order to do so (display perfect womanly wares, that is). And how sad it is that at least 200,000 women feel the need to "perfect" their wares Every Year in this country. (This figure does not include those who have surgical reconstruction after cancer or accident.)

And I thought to every photo here reveals is that every women has TWO. Count them! One! Two! And they all look alike (except for a couple really purposely oversized examples).

And then I thought about Mel Gibson's taped words wherein he accused his woman of being a rather slatternly woman. Wait a minute! Didn't he google her before moving her in? Didn't he know that she posed in scanty lingerie (and whatever other poses there may be out there...I was afraid to google beyond the lingerie photos!) Surely he didn't pick her out of a lineup of women whose daily attire consisted of denim jumpers, long skirts, long hair tied back into buns. He knew who she was before they got together! What's his complaint now!

And then I think about young mothers who insist on treating their young daughters as "little princess". A princess of inestimable physical beauty who is deserving of adulation from every family member...and then from every person outside the family, including every male within sight. Don't they know they're grooming her, setting her up to this un-idealistic idea of womanhood?

Whatever happened to teaching modesty and covering our children for their own protection from those who would like to do them harm? Don't we realize by now, after countless headlines, that there are perverts everywhere! Our daughters should not be taught to parade themselves in today's version of "body-baring-beauty" at such young age.

Okay. My mind is rambling here...from one topic to another. But I hope you will go to read my earlier post about protecting your children. Read it here.

(If I seem a bit rambly's because this is my brain on chemo drugs. Tomorrow will be a different matter...I'll have crashed flat.)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

It's Pretty Green at our House

Today's color is "green". Not that I choose any particular color but simply because a batch of photos yesterday included some cool examples...all unplanned...I was simply snapping away with the new digital camera Hubby bought for me, checking this feature and that. And look what happened! (you can click on the photos for close-ups)
Mr. Robin was happy to pose beside the church near the vineyard. The vineyard consists of a single grapeless vine...but it is still lovely to look at as it climbs a small lattice divider on the back property line.

This glimpse of the redbud tree happened quite by accident. I was playing with the zoom and these leaves got in the way of another photo plan. But aren't they lovely!

Mr. Ant insisted upon traveling across this photo. I would have included his portrait in more than one photo but he was traveling so fast the camera couldn't keep up. Portraiture was not his aim for the day. No matter...I snapped a nice photo regardless of his lack of cooperation.

The potted plant near the deck offered up this green leaf.

This one appears to be an "ant" highway or byway, but I saw no critters traveling hereon.

By the way! Today's Tip for the Day for all you bloggers? If you inadvertently delete a photo you had uploaded, you can simply right-click and select "undo". Oh, Man, am I happy to have discovered that!

Have a Green Day!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

What I Learned Yesterday In the Chemo Chair

Since February I've been doing chemo three weeks out of four. (It's an easy chemo...only minor side effects. That is, if you can call hair loss minor to a woman's way of thinking! That plus a certain lethargy.) It's a matter of 3-4 hours but yesterday's time in the chemo chair was nearly 6 hours long! My bloods had been faxed to the City the day before so that the Onc could sign the order and fax it back to our local clinic.

Somehow no order was available until I had been in the recliner nearly two hours. No matter, I had taken a book to read.

I've mentioned Kevin DeYoung's book, The Good News We Almost Forgot: Rediscovering the Gospel in a 16th Century Catechism. DeYoung presents the 129 questions/answers of the Heidelberg Confession in a 52 week format, providing a summary narrative each week.

Since I've never been through the Heidelberg Catechism (something is remiss in my theological training...I'm in my 60s and this is the FIRST time I've studied this catechism) I was pleased when Hubby bought me a copy. I'm reading it slowly. The book includes the questions/answers and DeYoung's narratives, but does not list the scriptures associated with each Q/A and which are greatly instructional to the reader.

And so I have downloaded the Catechism Q/As AND the scriptures. It is helpful to me to read the scriptures that support each answer.

So yesterday I'm in the chemo chair and I have a good solid two hours to read. I was blessed with the delay in getting doctor's orders because one of the first drugs to be infused is benedryl and, you guessed it, it puts me to sleep for nearly the duration. Nurse Diana brings me lunch and I eat in what feels like a drug-induced haze but other than that, I spend my time sleeping.

So here are some (not all) of my thoughts on yesterday's reading.
Question 12 asks, "According to God's righteous judgment we deserve punishment both in this world and forever after: How then can we escape punishment and return to God's favor?"

Answer 12: God requires that His justice be satisfied. Therefore the claims of His justice must be paid in full, either by ourselves or another.
Let me interject a thought here. It is disconcerting that many in contemporary Christianity (and in the secular world as well) like to believe "God is Love". They distort that to "God loves everyone" and worse to "God is not a God of wrath".

That is the view I get from the women I teach in jail (Sadly, I've had to again take hiatus from teaching although I still fill in on an emergency basis)! For the most part the religious background of these women is nil, and their most common concept of God, if they have one, is that "God is love". So, then, how do I introduce them to the concept that God is also a "God of wrath" and that we need a Savior who will save us from that wrath, and that God Himself makes the provision for that salvation in His Son Jesus?

Sadly, many today do not teach that God hates (yes, I said "hates!!") sin. And He hates it to the extent that except for His redemptive work through Christ on our behalf we would all perish. And we would perish because in and of ourselves we are unable, totally unable to redeem ourselves.

We can not ourselves undo what we inherited from Adam...his sin nature. Nor can we undo the fact that Adam's sin is our sin...that we are guilty of sin because we are in Adam...we are born (conceived) into Adam's sin and are subject to Adam's sin AND Adam's death. (Add to that the fact that we ourselves sin and there seems no end to the extent of our sins).
Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man (that's Adam) and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned-- (in Adam we all sinned).
But, you ask, how can we be held accountable for Adam's sin? How can we be deemed guilty of the "sin nature" he acquired when he first sinned? We were not there! Or were we? Let's look at that.

This may seem like a difficult concept. We believe in fairness and in fairness we would suffer condemnation only for what WE do, and not what our common ancestor Adam did so long ago before death entered the world.

But you see, we WERE there WITH Adam. We were IN Adam.

God had instructed Adam that in the day that he sinned he would "surely die". But in Genesis 3 we do not see Adam being struck by lightning (which was God's righteous perogative) and death does not come instantly. No. In God's great mercy He moves Adam and Eve out of Eden and allows them to live for a long while. During this time we begin to be born. We are their children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, to a thousand and more "greats". We are the descendants of Adam and Eve, all of us, every race, every color, every people, every tribe. We are all their descendants. (This post is long...but stay with me. Keep reading!)

If God had chosen to eliminate Adam and Eve, to have them die instantly on the spot, we would never have come to be born. We were THERE, all of us, in Adam's (and Eve's) loins. We were in their DNA, their genes. Without them we would never be. And if God had carried out the penalty of death right then and there...we would be DEAD before we were ever BORN. It is in great mercy that He did not do that.

God, in His mercy, allowed them to live...and in that mercy allowed US to live. We are each one of us alive today because of God's great mercy extended to Adam and his descendants. While we live we are still children of Adam and hence, still participate in his penalty of death. In Adam we die as we read in Romans 5:12.

That's bad news for all of us. We all die in Adam. That is the sorrow of life...that we are subject to death. We, our loved ones, our babies, our young ones, our middle-aged ones, our old ones. We All Die. Some easily, some painfully, some acceptingly, some resistingly. But death belongs to all. There is no escaping. (I hope you do not find this morbid...if you do, it is only because you have not already accepted this fact. We understand it more as we age.)

But the Good News is that Paul explains further in Romans 5:18-19 "Therefore as one trespass (Adam's sin) led to condemnation for all men (that's us), so one act of righteousness (the righteous life of Christ and His complete obedience unto death on the cross on our behalf) leads to justification and life for all men (to those whom the Father has given Him, those to whom God gives new life, to those who are in Christ).

And the "wrath" of God? His anger towards sin? Paul mentions that, too. Romans 5:9 "Much more then, having now been justified by His blood (the blood of Christ), we shall be saved from the wrath of God (God's righteous anger towards sin) through Him (through Christ)."

Not only are we justified by Christ's blood on our behalf and made right before the throne of judgment, we are also saved from the wrath of God's righteous judgment against our sin. We stand before God clean and right because He has made us clean and right through Christ. That, friend, is Good News.

The easy summation is this:
Bad news: In Adam we die.
Good News: In Christ we live.
Yesterday I saw it this way:

1. Adam, prior to sin, had access to the Creator and to life provided by the Creator. He had life.

2. Adam, after his sin, lost that access to "life" for himself and for his descendants. He now had death. And in Adam WE have death. (Except for what God would provide for him and us through the promised Savior).

3.Adam and his descendants, those who are of the elect, those who will receive new life through God's work on man's behalf, regain access to "eternal life" through the intercessory work of the Christ, the Savior, the one who is fully God and fully Man. Jesus, the God-Man, stands as mediator between fallen man and God the Father. He is our sacrifice, our advocate, our savior. It is in Christ that we have life and that life begins in the Here and Now and continues in the Hereafter. John 5:24
Thanks be to God who created us and who redeems us. The work of creation AND of redemption is His work. On our behalf. In His great mercy. And that is how we can say truely that "God is love." Sin was a costly sin. His love is a costly love, a cost that He Himself provided through His Son on the cross on our behalf.

(You can read the catechism with scriptures here. And if you get bogged down on the first question, do not stop there. Go deeper. Keep reading. Study it out for yourself. Where you have questions, write them down, but keep reading!!