Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Quite a Dilemma

Last week I had the foreign news going on TV in the background and a story came up about a little baby who was born with 6 fingers on each hand and 6 toes on each foot. It seems nobody had noticed for several moments until his parents, who had been giving him a good cuddle, looked down with a great shock. But he was gorgeous and the six fingers and toes were all straight and absolutely perfect. I saw a 6-fingered little girl in "The Guinness Book of World Records" but her 6th digits were bent and crooked. Not so with this little boy.

Now, of course, they are wondering if they ought to do anything or nothing at all. They are aware that as he grows, he may be teased by his peer group if they leave him with all 24 fingers and toes. On the other hand, as they are perfect, there is no medical reason to amputate any of them. I said, "I wouldn't touch them. I'd leave them just as they are and tell him he's special." But my son Logan said, "If it was me, I'd want you to cut them off. I wouldn't want them and when I got old enough, I'd be mad if you left them." So that makes the situation trickier. You're dealing with the future of somebody who is not yet old enough to make his own decisions.

But one of the doctors who was interviewed has been urging the parents to consider leaving them. "Think what an advantage a six-fingered pianist would have!" That swayed me again. If God and nature have given this boy a remarkable gift, who are we to tamper with it simply because of what people (including the boy himself, I suppose) might think? I can quite understand the mother, who actually said, "I just haven't got my head around it yet." I really felt for her and her husband, having that decision to make.

What would YOU do? Personally, I still think I might have left them, and Logan can count himself fortunate that he was born with just five digits on each hand and foot if that's his point of view.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Dreams must be Loved

I've been hearing a lot about following dreams lately. A friend of mine was sharing how she'd come up with a brand new dream that really excited and motivated her. The interesting part was that it was the first time she'd ever felt that way. She realised that all the ideas she'd called dreams in the past turned out to be nothing more than thinking a particular action might be a good idea. I knew just where she was coming from. I realised that I've often experienced the phenomenon of wanting to want do something that sounds good. And you can just about convince yourself that it really is your dream, but deep down you know the truth.

About the same time I was reading a biography of Albert Einstein that I borrowed from the library. I thought I'd stretch my horizons and give my brain a work-out. It was too much for me. A lot of the quantum physics and theory of relativity material might as well have been written in Ancient Greek or Double Dutch as far as I was concerned. I'd expected that, but I wanted to get something out of the book anyway. And I did! It all tied in with this business about having dreams that you can love.

When Einstein was 13 years old, a friend of the family who went to university used to lend him university text books. And young Albert used to devour them. He looked forward to going to bed so he could read more of such stuff as "The Critique of Pure Reason" by Immanuel Kant, as if it was a novel! And he looked forward to the visits of his Uni friend so that he could get his hands on more! Heavy, detailed Maths text books were some of his very favourites. To quote the book, "It brought him intense pleasure and made him happy."

I thought of my own son who is about the same age. Although he can handle Year 8 & 9 Maths, he'd far rather not! And I was exactly the same. We understand that we must plough through it, to meet possible future exam requirements but it is certainly not exciting and stimulating. No way could we stimulate a passion for Mathematics in our hearts, and I'm sure it's because God didn't plant it there. He has other plans for people like us.

God has promised that when we delight ourselves in Him and commit our ways to Him, He will grant us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37: 4-5). It's great to think that this is because when we delight ourselves in Him, we can't avoid finding out what our passions are, because He has planted them there. We didn't ask for them. We were born with them. But God must have got them right because we wouldn't change them if we had the chance, no matter how hard they get to follow. That's why he promises to give us the desires of our heart when we follow Him, because He wants to make life easy for us by letting us like the path He has planned for us.

To sum up, I saw a movie last week in which the hero, who was a talented guitarist, put it aside to concentrate on earning money in his business, which didn't inspire him at all. At one part, his eccentric uncle said, "Have you considered the reason why so many things you touch turn bad is because you're touching the wrong things?"

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Money, Money & More Money!

Did I grab anyone's attention with this title? I'm afraid this isn't what I have flowing into my bank account (not yet), but I wish that it was. I'm freely admitting, after having battled with the prosperity concept for years, that I wish I was wealthy.

I've known many Christians who feel too "humble" to pray for wealth. We've clung to such Scriptures as 1Titus 6:10 (the love of money is the root of all evil), Matthew 6:24 (You cannot serve both God and Money), and 1Peter 5:2 (Be not greedy for money but eager to serve.) We've felt that we glorify God best by being content with what we have. After all, that's what Paul the Apostle tells us to do in Philippians 4: 12-13. I've bought into an ascetic sort of notion that I should be happy in my poverty because a desire for more would be showing greed, which God would not be happy with. I've even spoken of my humble circumstances to others with a sort of spiritual pride. You know, the "We can't afford it but look how we're eking out on what God provides us,' sort of thing. Or "Look at all we're doing without! I'll bet so-&-so would be fuming if they had to live on OUR income!"

But as I continued writing and publishing, I could not deny that I certainly WOULD like to increase my cashflow. It'd be GREAT to be able to re-print "Picking up the Pieces" already instead of needing to wait "until we have the money!" I have an idea that that day is like the proverbial "tomorrow." It never comes. But I WANT it to come! It is wonderful when poor folk pray and God comes through at the 11th hour with sudden help from an unexpected source. But I couldn't help thinking it'd be even more wonderful if we didn't need to rely on this sort of miracle. I love to imagine that we run such a blessed and flourishing concern that we're able to print books whenever we felt like it. I'm sure that writing is God's calling on my life, but if I'm halted because of finances, His plans are thwarted.

At first I whispered, "I want to be wealthy enough to do this well," wondering if it was OK. Is increasing my wealth really something I should be praying for? I feel that the answer is a definite YES. To begin with, I know you've all heard about the horrific bushfires which have ravaged our state of Victoria these past few weeks. Watching the faces on the News of victims whose loved-ones have been burned to death is more than I can stand. And there is an appeal going around for money to be able to support bushfire victims. They're saying, "Come on South Aussies, we know the Vics would get behind us if the situation was reversed." And how I'd love to be in the position to donate thousands and thousands to this appeal out of our abundance. But we're not. That's when it hit me that having a cash base for good works is not worldly at all. It is a God-given blessing to enable us to bless others.

Maybe we cling to those Scriptures I mentioned without really getting the point of them. It's the love of money that is the root of all evil, not money itself. God doesn't want us to become attached to it at the cost of giving up our reliance on Him, but He does bless it with it to be used for great purposes. We forget that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, David and Solomon, to name a few, were all blessed with abundance as a sign of God's favour. Why did He do it? Because He knew they'd be good stewards.

Deuteronomy 8:18 is a verse that we shouldn't forget. "Remember the Lord your God for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth and so confirms His covenant which He swore to your forefathers, as it is today." Speaking of covenenants, we mustn't forget that Jesus died to deliver us from sin, disease AND poverty. "He became poor so that we might become rich" might not be talking just about the airy-fairy, inner-soul sort of richness so many of us think.

I've been praying for ways to promote Apple Leaf Books, and came up with an Apple Leaf Club. You'll see the details in my toolbar soon. I'll finish off with a quote which I think very apt.

If you want to help the poor, don't be one of them!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Happy Birthday Logan

Yesterday our eldest turned 14! It may sound trite to say this but it's absolutely true, it seems like just the other day when he was born. I thought that in honor of the day, I'd fill this post with a bit of Logan-lore, some from way back and some more recently.

He's always been verbally skilled. Even as a toddler before he learned to read, he easily memorised several of his favourite books, such as Dr Seuss favourites, without even trying. We would turn a page and he could recite exactly what was on it, even when it was very long.

He was our shy, retiring one when we were out in company. (Not around the house, of course). Once when he was very small and still our only child, I was having a haircut, and one of the shop girls offered to read to him. As usual, he stayed quiet as a mouse until he warmed up to her. She was telling him, "The cat called Pat is on the mat" and such stuff, when suddenly he pointed to part of the picture and remarked out of the blue, "That apartment building has a fire extinguisher next to it." I forget whether or not I've told this one before, but I like it.

I remember a funny episode of "Everybody Loves Raymond" when Ray's brother, Robert, remarked that he'd been their parent's "Practise Kid." Logan said he absolutely understands where he was coming from, and he has a point. He was the one who we sent to school, just to see if he'd take to it, and because of his patience he was there for over 3 years, although he says he hated it most of the time. And he was the one I'd panic over and whiz off to doctors in the emergency department for things which I never fretted over with Emma and Blake. He's still our trailblazer, as I find myself sometimes getting anxious about what'll become of him, as we've never homeschooled a teenager before.

At the moment, Logan has not much ambition. When people ask him what he wants to do when he finishes school, he shrugs and replies that he has no idea, which some people think is a source of angst. (Such as his grandparents, who all thought he was so promising and sharp and intelligent from the time we first had him.) He takes an interest in politics, sports and current affairs. He has a good memory for all sorts of trivia, including history and geography. He loves the electronic games. I'm expecting that his life path will open before him when he's meant to step on it, but it certainly makes the homeschool journey one of faith!

Yesterday we took him to one of the big city shopping centres to have lunch and browse in all the different game shops, as he couldn't think of anything he'd rather do on a hot summer's day. But before then, we had a bit of a drama at home. I'd brought in a roll of catalogues from the letter box and the boys decided to look at them together. Then I hear my big, brave 14 year old scream, "Get off the couch Blake, get off the couch!" Turns out he'd seen an enormous huntsman spider crawl out of one of the catalogues. They are harmless but big and ugly and do give you a shock. I came out to help search for it, armed with vacuum cleaner and one of Andrew's steel-capped boots. I couldn't find it but I admit I didn't look too hard. We left it until we got home from the shops, and then good old Dad discovered the monster, skulking behind some cushions. He used the cup and paper method to get it outside, which I'd never dream of doing with a beast of that calibre. As it was, Andrew had his leg scuttled over as he was releasing it. It gives me the heebie-jeebies just to think of accidentally carrying it in with the papers. And Logan has been very edgy with catalogues ever since. It seems I've raised a sensitive new aged guy instead of big tough hero. But as he keeps reminding me, it WAS big!