Friday Tidings

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Posted 12/14/12 at 9:16 AM | Karen Farris

iWorship my iPhone

Have you people-watched lately? The best places are where they wait—like airports or bus stops. How many are thumbing their phone? Watch people at sporting events, malls, and doctor’s waiting rooms….same thing.

I’ve seen couples sitting side by side, smiling at their phones. Now eye contact is iContact. Never before has it been easier to be connected to the world and disconnected to someone sitting next to you.

Thoughts are shared in tweets. Status updates suffice for phone calls. And iPhones can do it all. It’s convenient too. Siri recommends our travel routes and advises good places to eat. iCal warns about our food intake. No time for a lengthy call?—just text and use an emoticon expressing the right sentiment.

iBelieve we need to keep a balance between our virtual life and the real relationships we share with those around us. While it's never been easier to stay in touch with hundreds of facebook friends and twitter followers, it's also never been easier to lose our real connections. We need face-to-face time, not facetime. FULL POST

Posted 12/7/12 at 9:16 AM | Karen Farris

Pearl Harbor Assignment

I don’t remember exactly what my teenage-know-it-all-wise-cracking mouth uttered, but the hurt on my friend’s face immediately told me to stop. It was early December and we’d been assigned to write something about Pearl Harbor. My comment had to do with how assignments like this were stupid. For my friend, it was deeply personal.

Every December 7th her family honored an uncle she’d never met but somehow knew deep in her heart. The stories that were shared around the living room were both gruesome and glorious—if that were possible. From an early age she’d come to respect this man whose uniformed picture was prominently displayed on the nearby bookshelf. Her uncle and father had grown up in a small town and when World War II had started in Europe her uncle left the mill and had enlisted. Her father, much younger and still living at home, watched his brother ship off for a base stationed in Hawaii. It seemed safe, but he missed his brother terribly. Then December 7, 1941 changed all their lives forever. FULL POST

Posted 12/3/12 at 11:27 PM | Karen Farris

News Flash: Senate to Vote on UN Treaty

The US Senate will be voting Tuesday, December 4th on whether to ratify a United Nations treaty on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Beneath the surface of this important sounding effort, is a crafty attempt to bequeath more of our American sovereignty to the authority of the United Nations.

America has some of the most stringent protections for those who are disabled. This treaty supposedly makes it a more global effort to support the disabled. Proponents say if the US signs the treaty other nations would be more likely to improve their own efforts with the disabled.

But like the Affordable Care Act, there are numerous provisions buried in the legalese that make this treaty unworthy at best and scary at the worst. Americans would be required to register any child with disabilities. Certain choices regarding a child's care wouldn't necessarily remain under the parent's control. Not to mention the cost and new accountability to a global entity. Let's let Americans keep American laws. Read up on this and contact your Senators right away.

http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/334605/un-treaty-rights-disabled-betsy-woodruff

http://www.parentalrights.org/index.asp?SEC={AD6BA826-95AC-4DB0-BE17-E9767D210057}&Type=B_BASIC

http://karenfarrisblogs.blogspot.com/

Posted 12/3/12 at 2:56 PM | Karen Farris

Prophetess of Doom

We’d just climbed into the truck for the six-hour post holiday trip home when I launched into my chosen discussion topic: our nation’s economic woes. My son, having listened to me ALL the way over to grandma’s house, asked politely, “Do you ever talk about anything else?”

Okay. True enough. I was trying to invite a dialogue of ideas with my college-aged son. But one round was enough for him. He opted for ear buds and his extensive music library.

I confess I’m an economics junky. I read the reports and ponder the dire scenarios.

It’s times like these that help me recall my grandparent’s conversations about the Great Depression. I also lived through the failure of our first business venture in the midst the 1980’s economic fallout. We’d started a strawberry farm—and grew huge, delicious strawberries. We’d probably still be there had we not gone into debt for land at 12% interest along with a tractor loan at 18% interest. It took less than four years to realize we’d never make enough money to get ahead. FULL POST

Posted 11/30/12 at 9:32 AM | Karen Farris

Message in a Bottle

As a lifetime beachcomber, I’ve always dreamed of finding a bottle with a message tucked inside. My treasures are usually colorful bits of beach glass and tiny shells. Yet the continuous tidal action makes the beach a fresh possibility each day. As I explored few weeks ago, something bright pink was sticking out of a mound of tangled kelp.

Hot pink duct tape sealed a clear, glass bottle—and there was a message inside! Water had seeped in but the indelible ink clearly showed letters—in a language I couldn’t read. Carefully extracting five wet strips of paper, I wondered what they all meant. Someone had written one line on each strip. Thanks to Google translator, I quickly discovered the messages were all the same, “Peace in the heart and soul”—written in Swahili, Malay, Finnish, Yiddish, and Slovak.

Ships from all over the world pass through the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Did a sailor pitch the bottle overboard? Did it wash in from the Pacific? And why the same message in five languages? Maybe it’s because peace seems so elusive no matter where you live in this weary world. There are times I struggle having inner peace. I sometimes become overly anxious with life’s complications. Perhaps that’s why this bottle had washed up for me to find. “Peace in the heart and soul.” FULL POST

Posted 11/23/12 at 9:11 AM | Karen Farris

The Price Tag of Thanks

I have a hard time with price tags. When shopping, before I decide if I can like something, I check the price tag. How many things have I left on the rack because of a high price tag? Many. Then there’s the bargain basement. Those price tags are cheap enough, but I seldom find anything I like.

Often I do the same thing with myself. I put a price tag on my worth. I have a gauntlet of requirements: Have I worked hard enough? Done enough for others? Been kind enough? Am I thankful enough? It’s pretty easy to slap a bargain basement price tag on myself.

I forget that only God puts the right price tag on my worth. My price tag has nothing to do with what I can do for Him; it’s only about what His Son has done for me. How much is the price tag? —The highest price imaginable because Jesus paid for it with his life. During November we consider all the things we’re thankful for. Without question, I’m most thankful for my new price tag. I have a Jesus price tag, and He already paid it in full. FULL POST

Posted 11/16/12 at 9:23 AM | Karen Farris

Empty Next?

Empty Next? It was actually a typo. She meant to ask how I liked my empty nest. Instead my friend asked what I was doing with my empty “next”. I knew what she meant, but wondering what’s next for me is a much better question. When my children moved out I had room for new things to come into the space left behind. What’s next?

I’m still years from retirement, but I do have more time now. I have quiet evenings and weekends. If time is a gift, how can I give it to others? What can I do with my “empty next’? Raising children was a wonderful chapter in my life, now I’m writing the next ones. I can choose to spend my “empty next” time anyway I want. But I don’t want to neglect the privilege I’ve had living in America. Now that I have more time, it’s my turn to give back. And no one argues that America needs her people.

I’m part of the Baby Boomer-Empty Nesters with more time to give. Some argue that Boomers ARE the nation’s biggest problem, but there are enough of us to become a bigger part of the solution. For all of us empty nesters—what’s next? Volunteer somewhere? Every hour makes a difference to someone else. FULL POST

Posted 11/10/12 at 4:52 PM | Karen Farris

My Promise to Veterans

I’ll never forget that Veteran’s Day event. I was a clueless, young teen, in the midst of an older, uber-liberal college crowd. At the front of the auditorium the lights reflected off the shiny buttons on an old man’s well-decorated military uniform. He didn’t bother with the podium. Instead he was in front of it, standing tall despite his age and the crutches clipped to his arms. His challenging gaze scanned the crowd.

What followed was his gruesome war story, filled with unimaginable details. It had cost him a leg, but that was easy compared to the scars he carried in his mind. I had read things like this before. But now someone who had suffered it was standing in front of me. I looked to see how the others were reacting. They seemed unmoved. The old man sensed it too. While his vivid recall gave me shivers, the crowd facing him didn’t seem to care. It didn’t matter that his battle wounds helped our nation. FULL POST

Posted 11/9/12 at 8:20 AM | Karen Farris

Building Wisdom in us and the US

I used to think wisdom only came with age. While it’s true that older wisdom has experience, younger wisdom considers new options. Recently I saw younger/older wisdom combine as my husband and son worked together on a building project. Oh, they work differently: my husband works more methodically, while my son is inventive, looking for faster, easier ways.

Even though they sometimes had different ideas, wisdom told them when to acquiesce to the other. And when they combined their wisdom—elder experience and younger ideas, I saw something else get built—a bond of respect.

Both of them will confess to a few construction-based conflicts, but it didn’t stop them from working together. And in the end, they built more than a structure—they built their relationship. FULL POST

Posted 11/3/12 at 10:25 PM | Karen Farris

Responsible or Entitled?

We’ve all probably seen it, maybe even dealt with it….someone who thinks they deserve something without the effort of earning it. From my earliest memories, I recall some who were given things I would have liked to have had, but my parents said, "We can’t afford it." Later on, their mantra was, “If you want it, work for it.”

Watching the antics of flash mob thieves, and some who refuse to work, it seems the old rules no longer apply. If you aren’t given something, go ahead and take it. There’s a creepy sense of entitlement brewing in our culture.

These thoughts took me back to my failed farm days when we were nearly as poor as the people we had working for us. No one had extra money and no one wasted it either. We worked from the time it got light until we collapsed in bed at night.

I’ll always remember Earl and Betty. They were married with kids and they traveled to farms during the summers and fall to earn a living. They slept in their van and cooked on a portable grill. They worked hard and laughed at the idea they would ever work their way out of where they were—but they were willing to try. FULL POST

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