Thursday, October 28, 2010

Filling Their Heads With Worthwhile Stuff

I’m disappointed. My mom told me it was fun. It’s not, nor is it easy. The reality is, there is no all-contingencies-listed-child-rearing operator’s manual out there. St. Nicholas Hospital didn’t issue us a 500 page encyclopedia with an extensive thumb index and an emergency 800 number when we took the kidlet home. Sure we read books, studied the Bible, observed others, and drew from our own growing up experiences. But much of parenting is winging it, trying to make the best decision, given the information we have at that moment.

Our goal is to lay in enough lessons to enable the child to live successfully on their own, without getting too beat up in the process. Be Christ centered. Develop good study and hygiene habits. Know how to choose ripe bananas, do an oil change, replace a light switch, balance a check book, sort laundry, cook a meal, sew on a button.

As the big guy left for college this morning, we talked about something basic, (like “you should know this by now”), and he absolutely bristled. I know we covered it before, so why is he SO clueless? Maybe because he doesn’t see current value in it. He has to catch a bus. That’s all that matters this instant.

So instead of repeatedly whacking my head against the wall in exasperation, I should see the lessons as a tool box. Something to draw from when needed. He may hammer a nail with a shoe from time to time. Eventually he’ll remember he has a tool box in the garage with all kinds of useful stuff in it. Including an 18 ounce hammer.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Project for Cold Winter Days

Ever wonder if someone in your family’s deep dark past was a pirate or a king, but not enough to plunk down big bucks to hire a researcher? Try these free places to scope out answers on your own.

Start with yourself and work backwards. Downloadable forms from enable you to gather, organize, and present your findings, navigating you through the information maze.

Cyndi Howells is the grand dame of genealogical web information. Her “Cyndi’s List of Genealogy Sites” contains a massive 264,000 plus links, and she's constantly adding more.

State Archives store census records, but they’re also repositories for old photos, maps, and historical artifacts. These resources answer questions like, "What was life like for my coal mining grandfather?" shows actual ship’s manifests, transcribed excerpts, and specs on the boat that took them over. Sign up to use it. The records cover the years Ellis Island actively received immigrants into the US through New York, from 1892 to 1952. Manifests are fascinating glimpses into the immigrants' lives. Could they read or write? How much money did they have? What was their occupation?

Try the Social Security Death Index, (SSDI), to track more recently deceased relatives. Go to Rootsweb,(avoid paid sites), plug in a name, and scan the list for matches. It lists a birth date, social security number, where they received their card, and the month and year of death, sometimes the actual day. These are helpful in finding information in census records, newspaper obituaries, or deeds.

Telephone white pages in various countries may help you narrow down the region your family came from, and discover possible living relations. Google “telephone white pages (country)”, and see where it takes you.

Yahoo!’s Babelfish roughly translates found documents. If you contact that third cousin twice removed in the old county, this gem offers a painless way to translate English into the language. Just avoid slang and contractions.

Snuggle up with your computer and on with the quest!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Christians and Wealth

I struggle with what is “right” for a believer. There seems to be a great deal of subtle emphasis in Christian circles on the cookbook approach to finances. “If I tithe and am faithful with what God has given me, He will make me financially comfortable.” I do my part, and God is obligated to do His.

Personally, I haven’t found this to be true. He said He would provide for our needs. He determines what our needs are. Paul reflected this by saying if he had food and clothing with that he would be content. Even more, he had learned to be content without those basics. In “nakedness, peril, or sword ” we are “more than conquerors through Him who loved us”.

When the scriptures talk about “God works all things together for good”, what is the good God works towards? Not necessarily what we consider “good”. He means to make us look like Jesus in the end. He means the cross. Not comfort. He means death. Not good health and long life. He means remaining faithful in the face of adversity. “Having done all, to stand.” And if Jesus learned obedience through what He suffered why should we think we can learn obedience through comfort?

But what is the payoff? In my own situation I suspect the Lord is working a contentment with Him along the lines of Psalm 73. He gives Himself. And isn’t He better than stuff? As it is written, “God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever”.

Q. 104. What do we pray for in the fourth petition?
A. In the fourth petition, which is, Give us this day our daily bread, we pray that of God’s free gift we may receive a competent portion of the good things of this life, and enjoy his blessing with them.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Not a Normal Post

I was working on a rather heavy theological meditation about suffering and it’s place in a Christian’s life, but scrapped it, at least for this week, as it didn’t fit this blog’s stated aims. Instead I’d like to post two links for your joy and delight.

A fellow from California named Michael Janzen, is building a tiny home out of pallet wood. He sees the poetic justice of turning discards into something utilitarian. (Janzen has another blog called “Nine Tiny Feet” in which he explores the philosophy of space. Not for the claustrophobic.)

Along similar lines, and much more esthetically done, is the project four senior high drafting students took on last year. Maybe coming from North Carolina (think furniture) influenced their craftsmanship. Anyhow the tiny home is lovely. To get the full blog viewing benefit, start at the end (beginning chronologically) and read through.

Pleasant dreaming.