Friday, August 29, 2014

The Rod

He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him. - Proverbs 13:24
Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him. - Proverbs 22:15
Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death. - Proverbs 23:13
The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother. - Proverbs 29:15
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. - Psalm 23:4

As I understand it, a rod is considered an instrument of authority. It was used by shepherds for counting, guiding, rescuing and protecting sheep. It's also seen as a figure of speech for discipline of any kind.

What is the hebrew word for rod? Finding that might help me interpret these verses. Is the rod in Psalm 23 the same rod that's found in Proverbs? Since I don't know the answer to this question, I'll simply work with what I know for now, relying on Grace, and hope for the best.

A common interpretation of these verses is that the rod is about spanking. But just because an interpretation is common doesn't necessarily mean it's the optimum one and it's fine to explore other avenues. I have seen unruly young children who received few to no spankings grow to become teenagers with Christ-like character who, for the most part, make beneficial choices. Conversely, I've met plenty of people spanked as children who've turned out to be disrespectful and self-righteous jerks in adulthood. And vice versa.

Are children affected most deeply by who we are as people and the examples we set rather than how we discipline them? I'm not saying we ought not to discipline, but only bouncing thoughts around. Do we as parents really have so much control, or are we just deceiving ourselves? Parents can train their child in the way they think is greatest, but that child still makes his or her own choices. Isn't it best simply to trust our families are cared for by God and respond accordingly?

If I want to raise a child to have Christ-like character, how exactly do I go about that? It seems to me there's some teaching or explanation that needs to happen, and I would think teaching is most effective if it flows from a place of trusting in Love. I suspect teaching is a type of rod, then, that may or may not need to be accompanied by physical discipline depending on the personality of each unique child and what a specific situation calls for and so on.

And a rod is for fishing. So there's that.

All this to say the reality is that no matter what method of discipline you use, you're failing at this parenting thing. You're failing because you cannot possibly be perfect at it, just like you can't be perfect at anything else.

So may it be that when the "We're-better-parents-than-them" attitude rears its ugly monkey head, the current of Grace sweeps it away and carries us deeper into a life of love and mercy.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Be Still

As I've been thinking and praying about what to write today, a verse has been surfacing. "Be still and know that I am God." It's in Psalm 46.

Being still and being aware of Divine presence can be hard for anyone who doesn't normally do much contemplating, but I think it's important for our own sakes, as well as for others, that we stop and acknowledge we aren't the ones in charge, that it's okay to let go of trying to control our lives and instead just... be.

For me, being still is like celebrating the air. The air is what I so often take for granted, but when I stop and pay attention to it my whole focus changes. I don't need to try to change the air, just simply rely upon it. And that's what Christ is like—invisible, but always here. Being still in His presence reminds me how much I need Him, that I can't keep going on my own and it helps me live more peacefully.

Sunday, August 24, 2014


Not long after we arrived at Cultus Lake campgrounds, we received a warm and gentle greeting from one of Kevin's sisters and her family. In the evening a bunch of us gathered at their site for drinks and junk food. I don't remember what drink was given me but it tasted like Five Alive citrus juice, and others had beer or Coke with rye. Naturally then, our conversation turned to drinks.

"Have you guys tried Arbor Mist?" asked one of the brothers-in-law. "It's fruity and it's only like seven bucks a bottle."

At one point a sister mentioned she didn't even like wine so I said she'd probably like that Arbor Mist. I remember only small patches of conversation from that night. Some of it hurt me, so I tuned out once in a while as a way to take care of myself. I'm giving the benefit of the doubt in assuming they weren't trying to harm me on purpose.

A parks guy came by to tell us to be quiet since it was past quiet hour. They made fun of him after he left but he had been hiding and listening behind the boat somewhere, so he came back and stressed that we really did need to be quiet. I get the feeling this is a common occurrence at Cultus campgrounds.

Trevor has his own particular brand of whine. He uncorked the lid on it and poured it often during our stay and that's not surprising. He also threw a temper tantrum once. I lifted him, kicking and screaming, into our camping trailer so he could take time to calm himself. He put his size five hero shirt on inside out and backwards the one day. When I tried to fix it, he seemed annoyed so I left it. Not a big deal.

The men and boys went river fishing for salmon the next day. Caught their limit.

Kevin and I went to bed early that night.

Most of the family went fishing again the next day. Caught the limit again, if I remember right.

Two of my little nephews brought joy to our site on several occasions during the trip. Their mother wasn't feeling well and ended up in hospital getting her appendix removed. This was disappointing in more ways than one 'cause she had been excited for camping. She's a trooper.

A highlight of the trip was watching her kids and mine play with a maltese poodle named Chelsea at the beach.

Back at our campsite my mother-in-law wandered over and said, "Dad [something, something]." I couldn't pick up what she said for some reason—it was blocked out completely. All I heard was "Dad" and I could've asked her to repeat herself but instead we stared at each other for a moment and made our way to the chairs. An occasional robin or squirrel came near. We had no fire going and I gestured toward the pile of garbage that had accumulated in our fire pit. I apologized for the unpleasant smell, though I didn't need to do so.

Crows flew high in the trees above. She looked up at them and her eyes darted from one to another like she was counting them. As for me, I noticed their presence but wasn't interested in keeping track of crows.

Kevin went dirt biking up the mountain and got pricked on his wrist by a wasp, though that was unprovoked. He bee-bombed the nest which was on a fence, and at the top of the loop he texted me a photo of his scenic view.

In the afternoon, four of the kids were drawing on ancient computer paper—the kind with tiny holes along the sides and perforated edges—that my grandmother gave to me before she passed away. A sister came by and told me she was pissed off with her neighbor who, upon mysteriously seeing the food bowls though they were hidden, kept going onto her property and overfeeding her pets. And her husband mentioned how it wasn't fair the other brother-in-law kept catching so many fish at the river, using his children to cheat the limit, while the other boats around him weren't catching any.

I began to draw on Trevor's paper, asking him and his cousin if they could guess what I was making. "A cloud?" they said. "A flower?" When I added the bottom part, they got it. As you can see, Trevor helped me color small areas.

Then there was the incident. The two other boys continued on with their coloring, but the littlest one casually made a mark on his big brother's paper without knowing what he was doing. Well. The big brother was distraught about that minor offense and cried inconsolably for about ten minutes, all the while scratching at his eczema with his fingernails. Eczema runs in the family. They get it from my mother-in-law, apparently.

The brother-in-law forgot his can of beer on our picnic table and fruit flies were congregating on it. When I got around to giving it to him, I mentioned the fruit flies but he didn't care.

Kevin drove Tamara to a birthday slumber party (of course!) and returned in time for all of us to gather in a circle around a crackling fire and have a barbeque. I brought the shrimp dip because, you know... I'm shrimpy. I was amazed and thankful for tasty food and family and pleasant conversation!

Yesterday we got home, picked up Tamara from the birthday party and at two o'clock decided to walk to Dairy Queen for ice-cream. Tamara ordered a Kit Kat blizzard, the rest of us strawberry sundaes. I don't know if Kevin enjoyed it much; he looked ticked off about something. Trevor accidentally jabbed himself in his side with a stick on the way home and showed me his faintly bleeding scratch when we got to the driveway.

Overall, a memorable family vacation. No complaints here.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

i see cracks

i want to lean against
the wall inside your mind

drum my fingers
then march around

         until it falls

Friday, August 1, 2014

composition 27

Come down
come on down, down to the River
where the water carries me

because the eye of the tiger weeps

Come down
come on down, down to the River
where the water carries me

because the eye of the tiger weeps
that's why sometimes I lose sleep

Come down
come on down, down to the River
where the water carries me

because the eye of the tiger weeps
I wanna know what secrets you keep

Come down
come on down, down to the River
where the water carries me

Be human with me
Come to the River with me