Sunday, September 30, 2007


All right, class, the word for the day is hungry, and we might as well also take a look at its noun or verb form, hunger.

Now, we all know basically what that means. In fact, right now, I feel a bit hungry for a couple of brownies, the triple chocolate chunk kind; I like to throw in an extra handful or two of semi-sweet chocolate chips, for good measure. Maybe a cold glass of milk would be good, too.

According to Merriam-Webster, hungry means “characterized by hunger or increased appetite.” Okay, that’s probably the kind that would be fixed up by brownies.

On the other hand, a little different light is cast on this feeling when the verb or noun hunger is used. M-W says hunger is a “craving or urgent need for food or a specific nutrient; an uneasy sensation occasioned by the lack of food; a weakened condition brought about by prolonged lack of food.”

Near the border of Mexico live some of the hungriest children in the United States. They are fortunate if they have one meal a day, so their hunger seldom is satisfied. They suffer from chronic malnutrition, so they have a hard time concentrating on schoolwork. They know what it means to be hungry.

In many places along the border, especially in New Mexico, Arizona, and west of the Rio Grande valley in Texas, the land itself is hungry—not rich or fertile—barren.

Other meanings of the word hungry are “eager or avid (as for affection)—highly motivated (as ambition).” Hunger, again, is more intense; it means “a strong desire, a craving,” such as “a hunger for success.” We have also hunger of the spirit—a need for closeness to God.

Those children who suffer from desperate hunger along the Mexican border can’t worry much about feeling these other kinds of hunger. Physical hunger, in the sense they experience it, is a symptom of a basic survival need; those needs must be met before any other. That’s how God made us, so that we would survive.

I looked up hunger for the purpose of writing this blog entry. And I am amazed to see the resources Merriam-Webster has included on the definition page for the word. After the definitions, M-W has a list of organizations who help with world hunger, as well as physician-reviewed articles about it. For example, this paragraph from Healthline is part of a linked article there:

Hunger is the physiological drive to find and eat food. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), hunger is the world's major health risk. Globally, one in three people suffer from chronic hunger, which is a result of a lack of food security. Food insecurity means people do not have access at all times to nutritionally adequate food. There are three dimensions to food insecurity: a lack of (1) purchasing power (lack of money or resources), (2) accessibility (ability to get food), and (3) availability (amount of food). In the United States, hunger is caused by poverty, whereas in developing countries it is caused by poverty, war, civil unrest, or an undeveloped economy.

God tells us to feed the hungry, care for the poor. We could do much more to help than we do; we don't even have to deal with things like war, civil unrest, or an undeveloped economy. And America is covered up in food.

Oh, well, so much for a word study!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Thursday Thirteen--K.I.S.S.!

Have you ever noticed that we’ve become a nation of abbreviaters? We speak in initials and parts of words. Why? Maybe it’s because we are always in such a rush? Here are some of the most annoying ones I see often:

1. abs—This was the first one I ever noticed, about 15 years ago. On the front cover of a magazine—Redbook, I think—was a proclamation about developing your “abs.” What? Do I have abs? I couldn’t imagine what that was. For a few minutes I felt like I was in the twilight zone. (I need to develop mine.)

2. lol—I’m not sure why this annoys me. It just does. Maybe because it is so far from a real laugh.

3. lo-cost refi—Entirely too much refi is going on these days, so I guess it has become a household word.

4. e.d.—Well, maybe this is much more prevalent than I ever thought. Even Bob Dole proclaimed remedies for it.

5. i.b.s.—I heard this a couple of weeks ago. A friend said she was very concerned about her friend Charlie because he had severe i.b.s. What?

6. social—People in our school office can’t say the whole thing. When I need some information about a student, I am asked, “Okay, what’s his social?” Well, I don’t know, I want to say; I heard he likes to party on Thursday nights.

7. QEP—In our work we have the QEP, and it’s very important. I realized its importance a while before I ever figured out what it was: Quality Enhancement Program.

8. IE—Ditto IE, which is of high importance among colleges and universities, all of which are subject to strict re-accreditation standards: institutional effectiveness.

9. meds—Did you take your meds? What meds do you take? Keep the cost of your meds under control.

10. celebs—This is something people have gone nutty over today. In a recent TV interview with O.J. Simpson’s lawyer, a man stood beside the lawyer wearing a hat that said, “I love famous people!” He cheered for the lawyer every time he finished a sentence.

11. EPT—Long ago we used to call our diagnostic English Proficiency Test by these initials until it came to mean what it means now. We changed it to the BET (Basic English Test).

12. rep—Who is your insurance rep? Well, aren’t you concerned about your rep?

13. nunya!—That’s short for “none of your business.” Or maybe the more modern version is MYOB.

BTW, K.I.S.S.!!! (Do you know what that means? Or is that a local one?)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Fear Not.

Fear God . . . and fear nothing else.

--John Beckling

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Thursday Thirteen--#32

I am very concerned about the problem of pornography in our society. I have known several people whose lives have spiraled down into tragic circumstances as a direct result of their inability to stay away from it—including loss of careers, divorce, harm to children, and even death. Therefore, this is a list of thoughts about porn, much of it quoted from the Boundless Webzine, which features a number of articles by C. S. Lewis; the parts of this list that are in quotation marks come from that site.

1. Pornography offers fleeting false pleasure and temporary satisfaction to the spirits of those who are searching and empty.

2. By contrast, one can find lasting real pleasure and endless depths of fulfillment through spiritual intimacy with God.

3. Nearly fifty years ago, C. S. Lewis wrote “that men and women have an ‘ever-increasing appetite for ever-decreasing pleasure.’ Despite all the venues available for sexual expression, the deeper fulfillment we crave is growing even more elusive."

4. “Sex has become everything and nothing. The late Allan Bloom captured best the challenge Boundless readers face in a highly sexualized culture. In The Closing of the American Mind, he wrote:

5. There is a long road to adulthood, the condition in which they are able to govern themselves and be true mothers and fathers. This road is the serious part of education where instinct gives way to choice with regard to the true, the good and the beautiful. Puberty doesn't provide man, as it does other animals, with all that he needs to leave behind others of his kind.

6. This means that the animal part of his sexuality is intertwined in the most complex way with the higher reaches of his soul, which must inform the desires with insight.

7. “Boundless articles on sexuality seek to reconnect sex and the soul -- our desires with a love of the true, good and beautiful."

8. “We step into the confusion and disappointment of soulless sexuality with a vision for restored purpose and fulfillment for what our hearts crave."

9. “C.S. Lewis provides another illustration offering a clear distinction between the brief and counterfeit pleasures of pornography compared with the eternal and abundant promises of intimacy with God."

10. "‘We are half-hearted creatures,’ he says, ‘fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mudpies in the slums because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.’ "

11. “His next line is the clincher: ‘We are far too easily pleased.’"

12. “An image of a woman without her clothes creates sexual excitement, but disconnected from marital closeness, it fails to deliver the closeness and oneness that complement visual stimulation."

13. “Lewis paints a great word picture for this in Mere Christianity. ‘You must not isolate [sexual] pleasure and try to get it by itself,’ he says, ‘any more than you ought to try to get the pleasures of taste without swallowing and digesting, by chewing things and spitting them out again.’"

Pornography is destructive—and that’s an understatement. It degrades women, ruins lives, and makes a mockery of God’s beautiful plan, which intends for sex to be the highest expression of love between a man and a woman, in marriage.

The Boundless Webzine can be found at

Little, Girl and 23rd Psalm

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


And here are the two boys who caused such a hubbub two years ago (see the mamas in the previous entry)!

In this picture, they are watching "Thomas the Train." This is a little pacifier-sucking togetherness before bedtime. I think they were about 15 months old at this time.

The cute and perfect dark-haired grandson on the left is my daughter's and the cute and perfect brown-haired grandson is my son's. Grandchildren are some of God's best blessings--we have eight now.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Baby Time

My daughter (left) and my daughter-in-law had babies two days apart. That was in June, two years ago.

That was a wild time. They live two hundred miles apart. We were running like crazy, needing to be in both places.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A Hummingbird Story

1. This morning, my husband went out on the deck as usual to feed our wild cat that will have nothing to do with us other than eat our cat food.

2. He said, “Come look at this.”

3. I went out to see. Near one of our hummingbird feeders, a ruby-throated hummingbird was almost swinging back and forth, apparently flying.

4. Then it stopped and one little wing was pointing straight up. After a few seconds, it took off again, going nowhere but swinging back and forth.

5. We finally realized that its wing was caught in a spider web behind the feeder, stretching from the eave of the house to a large plant nearby.

6. Hmm, how to rescue a hummingbird from a spider web without injuring it or causing it to have a nervous breakdown?

7. My husband got hold of the web about six inches above the bird and pulled it away from the house. As soon as the web was broken, the hummingbird was freed.

8. It flew away as fast as it possibly could, with nary a peep of thanks.

9. We almost never go out on the deck early in the morning; we’re too busy getting ready for work. My husband usually sticks out his head and hand only far enough to dump out cat food.

10. God cared enough about that tiny hummingbird to get us outside on the deck to see its need. I think I see a little lesson here. If God cared that much about a bird, wouldn’t he likely be very concerned, caring, and loving about us, who are created in his image?

11. In Luke 12, I find two passages about birds; those who have ears, let them hear:

12. Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

13. Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

Sunday, September 09, 2007

All Things New

Watch this great YouTube video response to The Passion of the Christ by Brad Paisley and Sara Evans, New Again, at this linked site.

The movie The Passion of the Christ touched many people—and I believe the video New Again will, too. The song is the voice of Mary questioning the execution of her Son, who responds with an explanation.

My good friend Karen said she has the movie, but she hasn't watched it yet because she doesn't have the nerve to see it by herself. It is true that it's not easy to watch. I went to see it when it first came out. Actually, I saw it three times without really meaning to. My friend Carolyn wanted to see it, so we left our college office hours a little early one day to see it. Then my mother wanted to go, so I went with her. A few weeks later, I went with several other college instructors and five big football-player students; the young men were deeply moved by it.

Picture from

Friday, September 07, 2007

3:16--These Are the Numbers of Hope

God’s power works like (the) wind, Jesus explains. Newborn hearts are born of heaven. You can’t wish, earn, or create one.

This quote comes from Max Lucado’s new book 3:16—The Numbers of Hope.

You can read the first chapter at this linked site. Through this site, you can buy 3:16 things to download, sign up for weekly e-mails or text messages or RSS feed. You can connect to video so that you can either watch other people’s ideas about what 3:16 means to them or submit your own You-Tube videos about what it means to you.

On the 3:16 site, you can read these life-changing words in English, Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, or German:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Thursday Thirteen--Ah, Smells!

These are some more of my favorite smells! (Here's a list I made of other smells, quite a few Thursday Thirteens ago.)

1. crushed leaves or buds from a videx bush

2. baby powder

3. puppy breath

4. steaks on an outdoor cooker

5. Girl Scout stew, cooked on a campfire

6. sautéing onions, peppers, and celery

7. lemon juice

8. freshly cut grass

9. burning leaves

10. antique roses (not hybrid roses)

11. apples

12. vanilla

13. And one of the very richest and best: leaf mold/compost piles

In honor of that smell, read this marvelous poem by Walt Whitman:

This Compost
by Walt Whitman

Something startles me where I thought I was safest,
I withdraw from the still woods I loved,
I will not go now on the pastures to walk,
I will not strip the clothes from my body to meet my lover the sea,
I will not touch my flesh to the earth as to other flesh to renew me.

O how can it be that the ground itself does not sicken?
How can you be alive you growths of spring? How can you furnish health you blodd of herbs, roots, orchards, grain?
Are they not continually putting distemper'd corpses within you?
Is not every continent work'd over and over with sour dead?

Where have you disposed of their carcasses?
Those drunkards and gluttons of so many generations?
Where have you drawn off all the foul liquid and meat?
I do not see any of it upon you to-day, or perhaps I am deceiv'd,
I will run a furrow with my plough, I will press my spade through the sod and turn it up underneath,
I am sure I shall expose some of the foul meat.
Behold this compost! behold it well!
Perhaps every mite has once form'd part of a sick person; yet behold!
The grass of spring covers the prairies,
The bean bursts noiselessly through the mould in the garden,
The delicate spear of the onion pierces upward,
The apple-buds cluster together on the apple-branches,
The resurrection of the wheat appears with pale visage out of its graves,
The tinge awardes over the willow-tree and the mulberry-tree,
The he-birds carol mornings and evenings while the she-birds sit on their nests,
The young of poultry break through the hatche'd eggs,
The new-born of animals appear, the calf is dropt from the cow, the colt from the mare,
Out of its little hill faithfully rise the potato's dark green leaves,
Out of its hill rises the yellow maize-stalk, the lilacs bloom in the doooryards,
The summer growth is innocent and disdainful above all those strata of sour dead.

What chemistry!
That the winds are really not infectious,
That this is no cheat, this transparent green-wash of the sea which is so amorous after me,
That it is safe to allow it to lick my naked body all over with its tongues,
That it will not endanger me with the fevers that have deposited themselves in it,
That all is clean forever and forever,
That the cool drink from the well tastes so good,
That the blackberries are so flavorous and juicy,
That the fruits of the apple-orchard and the orange-orchard, that melons, grapes, peaches, plums, will none of them poison me,
That when I recline on the grass I do not catch any disease,
Though probably every spear of grass rises out of what was once a catching disease.

Now I am terrified at the Earth, it is that calm and patient,
It grows such sweet things out of such corruptions,
It turns harmless and stainless on its axis, with such endless successions of diseas'd corpses,
It distills such exquisite winds out of such infused fetor,
It renews with such unwitting looks its prodigal, annual, sumptuous crops,
It gives such divine materials to men, and accepts such leavings from them at last.

Poem from

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Needing the Shepherd

Through my pneumonia haze, I tried to remember the 23rd Psalm, but this is as far as I could get: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.”

That was enough. I thought and thought about it, and it helped me get through that bad time at the first of August when I spent five days in the hospital. It gave me hope and comfort.

I pictured myself as a sheep—a sick, straggly one needing my shepherd to get me to a place where I could get well, a place with green grass to eat and good sweet water to drink. A sheep isn’t very smart, but he knows enough to comprehend his dependence on the shepherd. He knows the shepherd cares about him and will make sure he gets to a place of sanctuary.

God provides all I need. He restores my soul while he heals my body.