Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Tuesday and Hair Day and Juanita's Checkbook

Today I will go to have my hair done and then go to see Juanita and balance her checkbook.  Bob will go with me and visit with his sister, Betty, while I do that.  Juanita gave me a neat card for my birthday and enclosed a $20.00 bill as a gift.  When I picked up Bob we went to Big Cheese for lunch and I bought his lunch as a part of Juanita's birthday gift to me.

Afterward, We came back home and I dropped him off at his apartment. Then I went to fill my car with gas. Here it's $1.59 per gallon.

When I got home, I worked on my December 29th sermon. It's a ways off but it's better to be prepared. I will be 80 by then and so it never hurts to be prepared. One never knows what may happen. Bobby found that out....the hard way. Missy is lying in the recliner.... dozing.... across the room from me.

In a little while I may go over to Countrytime Antique Mall and look around. I may see something I can't live without.  :)

It does me good to walk around occasionally. I don't get as much exercise as I used to when I was working.

More later....

Bob caught up with me there and we went over to Braums for a hamburger.  Later he came over to pay some bills with his computer. Then he stayed for the news and Big Bang Theory reruns until 7:00.

Then after he went home, I took my bath and sat with Missy in the recliner. She looks forward to that every evening. We will go to bed at 9:00

Monday, November 23, 2015

Monday and Housecleaning day and Laundry

I didn't sleep so well last night. I was upset about the way the meeting went last night. After we watched the video on the compassion of Jesus, and had a little bit of discussion, Marilyn began to read Spong's remarks about the Paris terrorist attack. Mona exploded. She ranted for quite awhile about what was so much more terrible about the Paris terrorist attacks then the bombings of Iraq and Syria. Marilyn L. just gave up the effort. Mona is Egyptian and therefore looks at the political situation here differently than most Americans do. But the mood was ruined. Her husband also has a brain tumor and he makes some pretty irrational remarks too. So the entire discussion of the Living the Questions video was dropped.  I considered the evening a fiasco. I had invited my neighbor, Marilyn R, and I was glad at that point that she did not accept my invitation this time.

I want to talk to Marilyn L and Karan about what they think we should do about the meetings. Perhaps it is time to give them up. Bobby has this terrible virulent brain tumor and is actually living on borrowed time. I'm sure Karan is having a time trying to deal with that and if he isn't, it's a miracle.

So anyhow, I just got up at 4:50 and stripped my bed and began the laundry. I will make up my face and go in and have some breakfast. Maybe I can figure this all out after I eat.

More later...

I discussed the situation with my brother-in-law this morning.  He suggested we might recess the classes until spring to get us through the holidays and the winter.  We'll consider that but I want to talk to both Marilyn L and Karan before we do anything different. I'll see Marilyn L. at 3:00 this afternoon.  And then I'll try to talk to Karan about it after that.

In the meantime, I have begun my housecleaning. I have the dining room the kitchen and the bathroom done and have just finished the den. I will do my bedroom next and then the living room. I got the bed remade after that load of laundry was finished. The towels and Missy's mat is in the dryer now.

More later...

O.K. I've finished my housecleaning and laundry now and am just relaxing now and checking my e-mail.  It's only 10:00 so I have plenty of time until lunch. I have our chili going now in the slow cooker. The table is set and everything else is ready too. I have washed my new jeans wrong side out and in cold water like they suggested on the label. They would fade all over everything if I didn't do that. They are in the dryer now.

We had our chili for lunch and then I took some over to Marilyn R, across the way. 

I did visit Marilyn and she does not want to even give up the group for the winter.. She says we are a support group for one another and of course, she's right.  Then I went to see Bobby and Karan and they agreed with Marilyn and do not want to give it up either. They are trying, despite the odds, to keep their lives as "normal" as possible.

I came home in time to meet Bob coming over. He stayed until 7:00 and then had the rest of the apple brown betty with me. When he went home, I took my bath and sat with Missy in the recliner until 9:00 when I went to bed.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Sunday and Living the Questions Group and Yes, Politics

Today I will go to church and deliver my sermon and afterward a group of us will go to lunch. Then I will come home and do my congregational newsletter and later in the afternoon, prepare my apple brown betty dessert for the refreshments for the group tonight. I don't know exactly how many will come. Mona and her family have responded that they will come.  

It will be another busy day.

Tomorrow I will strip my bed do laundry and clean the apartment again. That too will be a busy day.

I have been watching CNN this morning and an interview of Donald Trump.  That man is scary. He will get us into an all out war. And he's delusional. He says after 9/11 he saw thousands of people in New York's Arab community cheering as the buildings came down. The police say that never happened. Who do we believe? The scary part is not the candidate but the fact tat so many people are ignorant enough to actually support him. If he is elected president, I will know my belief is true that a majority of the American people are ignorant.   When I see thousands gathering for his events, I am scared to death! The man is a bigot and his proposed policies are scary. He is favoring bringing back waterboarding in interrogations and keeping a database on immigrants. Doesn't he know that any immigrant coming into the country is facing a two year wait to even get in while they are thoroughly vetted?  Amazing! he is playing on the ignorance of the masses.

I can not tell you how frustrating it is to see the misinformation and outright lies that are being perpetuated about the refugee process and the Syrian refugees. So, here is a bit of information from the real world of someone who actually works and deals with this issue.

The refugee screening process is multi-layered and is very difficult to get through. Most people languish in temporary camps for months to years while their story is evaluated and checked.

First, you do not get to choose what country you might be resettled into. If you already have family (legal) in a country, that makes it more likely that you will go there to be with family, but other than that it is random. So, you can not simply walk into a refugee camp, show a document, and say, I want to go to America. Instead, the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees) works with the local authorities to try to take care of basic needs. Once the person/family is registered to receive basic necessities, they can be processed for resettlement. Many people are not interested in resettlement as they hope to return to their country and are hoping that the turmoil they fled will be resolved soon. In fact, most refugees in refugee events never resettle to a third country. Those that do want to resettle have to go through an extensive process.

Resettlement in the U.S. is a long process and takes many steps. The Refugee Admissions Program is jointly administered by the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) in the Department of State, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and offices within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within DHS conducts refugee interviews and determines individual eligibility for refugee status in the United States.

They evaluate refugees on a tiered system with three levels of priority.

First Priority are people who have suffered compelling persecution or for whom no other durable solution exists. These individuals are referred to the United States by UNHCR, or they are identified by the U.S. embassy or a non-governmental organization (NGO).

Second Priority are groups of “special concern” to the United States. The Department of State determines these groups, with input from USCIS, UNHCR, and designated NGOs. At present, we prioritize certain persons from the former Soviet Union, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Iran, Burma, and Bhutan.

Third Priority are relatives of refugees (parents, spouses, and unmarried children under 21) who are already settled in the United States may be admitted as refugees. The U.S.-based relative must file an Affidavit of Relationship (AOR) and must be processed by DHS.

Before being allowed to come to the United States, each refugee must undergo an extensive interviewing, screening, and security clearance process conducted by Regional Refugee Coordinators and overseas Resettlement Support Centers (RSCs). Individuals generally must not already be firmly resettled (a legal term of art that would be a separate article). Just because one falls into the three priorities above does not guarantee admission to the United States.

The Immigration laws require that the individuals prove that they have a “well-founded fear,” (another legal term which would be a book.) This fear must be proved regardless of the person’s country, circumstance, or classification in a priority category. There are multiple interviews and people are challenged on discrepancies. My friend, who works for immigration and provided this information had a client who was not telling the truth on her age and the agency challenged her on it. Refugees are not simply admitted because they have a well founded fear. They still must show that they are not subject to exclusion under Section 212(a) of the INA. These grounds include serious health matters, moral or criminal matters, as well as security issues. In addition, they can be excluded for such things as polygamy, misrepresentation of facts on visa applications, smuggling, or previous deportations. Under some circumstances, the person may be eligible to have the ground waived.

At this point, a refugee can be conditionally accepted for resettlement. Then, the RSC sends a request for assurance of placement to the United States, and the Refugee Processing Center (RPC) works with private voluntary agencies (VOLAG) to determine where the refugee will live. If the refugee does have family in the U.S., efforts will be made to resettle close to that family.

Every person accepted as a refugee for planned admission to the United States is conditional upon passing a medical examination and passing all security checks. Frankly, there is more screening of refugees than ever happens to get on an airplane. Of course, yes, no system can be 100% foolproof. But if that is your standard, then you better shut down the entire airline industry, close the borders, and stop all international commerce and shipping. Every one of those has been the source of entry of people and are much easier ways to gain access to the U.S. Only upon passing all of these checks (which involve basically every agency of the government involved in terrorist identification) can the person actually be approved to travel.
Before departing, refugees sign a promissory note to repay the United States for their travel costs. This travel loan is an interest-free loan that refugees begin to pay back six months after arriving in the country.

Once the VOLAG is notified of the travel plans, it must arrange for the reception of refugees at the airport and transportation to their housing at their final destination.

This process from start to finish averages 18 to 24 months, but he has seen it take years.

The reality is that about half of the refugees are children, another quarter are elderly. Almost all of the adults are either moms or couples coming with children. Each year the President, in consultation with Congress, determines the numerical ceiling for refugee admissions. For Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, the proposed ceiling is 85,000. We have been averaging about 70,000 a year for the last number of years. (Source: Refugee Processing Center)

Over one-third of all refugee arrivals (35.1 percent, or 24,579) in FY 2015 came from the Near East/South Asia—a region that includes Iraq, Iran, Bhutan, and Afghanistan.

Another third of all refugee arrivals (32.1 percent, or 22,472) in FY 2015 came from Africa.

Over a quarter of all refugee arrivals (26.4 percent, or 18,469) in FY 2015 came from East Asia — a region that includes China, Vietnam, and Indonesia. (Source: Refugee Processing Center)

Finally, the process in Europe is different. He would be much more concerned that terrorists are infiltrating the European system because they are not nearly so extensive and thorough in their process.

More later....

Well, I got everything done and after the group left, I took my bath and sat with Missy in the recliner for awhile. I  am very tired.  I went to bed at 10:00.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Saturday and Breakfast Out

Bob and I went for breakfast at Sirloin Stockade again this morning. Afterward I took him by my apartment to pick up the newspaper so he could read it.  I talked to Scott on the phone while he read it. Scott is interested in one of John and Leslie's Corgy puppies. They are due to be born the first week in December. Ashley, my youngest granddaughter, has one and John and Leslie have two. One is Mini and she is the female who will have the pups. Hoover is the male and the father of the pups. Leslie will take some photos of them after they are born so Ginger and Scott can choose.  They say they want a blond like Mini.

Corgy's are so cute. I had never heard of them before Ashley got hers. This is Mini.  Aren't they cute!

And this is Hoover with Mini....

.And here's a better photo of them both...
 More later....

I was reading a blog from one of my friends who is a PHD and very wise. This is what he has to say about of political situation right now.

 "The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, is pursuing a strategy explicitly designed to provoke hostility toward innocent Muslims in Western society in order to radicalize these communities and recruit them to their cause. Listening to the American political debate in the wake of the tragic terrorist attacks in Paris, that strategy may be working. Islamophobic rants are both morally offensive and factually inaccurate and play right into the hands of our terrorist enemies.

ISIS is not hiding its objectives. In its publications, it talks of forcing the world into two camps by “destroying the gray zone” between itself and the forces aligned against it. For ISIS, the gray zone is inhabited by those who have yet to commit to one side in its clash of civilizations. In the February edition of its official magazine Dabiq, an ISIS writer outlined a plan to compel “the crusaders" [the West] to actively destroy the gray zone themselves by generating anti-Muslim hysteria in the wake of terrorism. Attacks such as those in Paris are designed to get Western governments to alienate their Muslim populations and push them toward ISIS."

And I'm sorry to say it may be working.  Is it worth it to alienate the peaceful Muslims in our society?

More even later.... 

After lunch, I went to Bartlesville and began my Christmas shopping.  I got the great grand's gifts and Leslie's.  I also bought myself a sale 3/4 sleeved t-shirt and got a free pair of jeans on a promotion. 
It's almost 4:30 now and I want to sit and read the paper and my new Time magazine. 

Bob came over about 5:00 and read the paper and stayed an hour. After he left, I took my bath and decided to just decided to use the computer until  this football game is over and I can see some news. Then I will go sit in the recliner with Missy...spoiled rotten cat!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Friday Again and Oversleeping

Well, it was cold last night and I had turned the furnace down so I slept so well last night that I overslept.  That's always a good thing. I went to bed at 9:00.

I feel like fixing chili today it is so chilly.  I think I have the makings too. And we have Bob's pie that he brought for yesterday's lunch.

I also need to do some laundry again. Other than that, I have very little planned for today.  I may go to Bartlesville just to get out of town.  I also have a brown top I need to take back to Goodies to exchange. I thought it was 3/4 sleeved but it was short sleeved.  For winter, I need the longer sleeve. I bought this Tuesday on sale in Independence.

More after lunch...

Bob came over this morning before his exercise class and told me he had "operated" on his ingrown toenail and found it had grown into a spiral in the corner. He made an appointment with a podiatrist in Independence and wanted me to go with him to help him fill out the paperwork for his visit. We went up early to eat at Great China and also let me exchange a t-shirt I had bought at Goody's.  It was short sleeved and I wanted 3/4 sleeved for fall and winter. While he was here, I changed the filter in my furnace too. It was getting pretty dirty. 

He had the surgery on his toe this afternoon and the doctor said it was already mildly infected. He gave him a prescription for an antibiotic and he has to go back the next two Monday mornings for the doctor to see how it's coming along. He was going to wash his car now and also get gas and then stop at the Medicine Shoppe and get the gauze squares and tape to keep it bandaged.  He will be back later to watch Brooks and Shields on PBS with their analysis of the news if it doesn't hurt him when it wakes up.. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Sunday's Sermon

 Listen to the Truth
November 22, 2015 

John 18:33-37New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?”  Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?”  Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?”  Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.”  Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

What is truth? Pilate asked.  

That’s a pretty good question and one we still attempt to answer. 

Exploring the Scripture:
The reading from the Gospel of John is not a “happily-ever-after” close to the Christian year. Good stories often end with a sense of resolution. Loose ends are tied up and things are fitly framed together. Not here. In this story we are transported back to Holy Week and are in the room with Jesus and Pilate as they discuss Jesus’s role. 

In our story, Pilate, the potentate of political power, holds Jesus’ fate in his hands. Pilate, evidently intrigued by Jesus, undoubtedly sensed the innate wisdom and personal power of Jesus. He might have been fearful of the authenticity of Jesus so unbearably close to his own inauthenticity and duplicity. But Pilate’s heart appeared to be ruled by a commitment to keep the peace, Pax Romana, at all costs; to weigh his decisions on the scales of his own political career. Pilate was not the merciful potentate we are led to believe in the gospel of John. Indeed! His reputation as described by his contemporary writers was a cruel inhuman ruler who often executed people even without trial. The writer of John has softened him for the sake of his story.  

Let’s stop right here and look at the historian and scholarly point of view:
For many decades now there have been scholars who have been convinced that the Gospel of John is based, in large part, on a written, but no-longer surviving, “Signs” source.   It is much debated whether the author of John relied on the Synoptic Gospels for any of its stories, or whether in fact its author had ever read or even heard of the authors of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. John was written much later…close to or even after the year 100.  It was written in a time when many “Christianities” were available and the writer of John evidently was trying to prove Jesus was God to his congregation. 

Why? Because there are very few verbatim overlaps between John and the other gospel writers, and outside of the Passion narrative there is not a lot of overlap in any of the stories he told.  Somewhat like the Synoptic Gospels John does have the healing of a Capernaum official’s son, the feeding of the 5000, and the walking on the water – all told in strikingly different ways.  John’s other miracles (which he doesn’t call miracles, but instead… “signs”) are unique to his account, the turning of water into wine, and the favorite of most Hollywood screen writers, the raising of Lazarus.

Moreover, the teachings of Jesus are highly distinctive in John.  Almost nothing that Jesus teaches in the Synoptic Gospels can be found in John (there is not a single parable in John!) and almost nothing of Jesus’ teaching in John can be found in the Synoptic gospels.

Most scholars think that the author of John probably had not even read the Synoptic Gospels.  That doesn’t mean, however, that the gospel called John was without its own sources. One source that scholars have isolated is called that so called “Signs” source.   It would have been the source that John used for his accounts of the miracles of Jesus…. a written account in which Jesus’ spectacular deeds were not called miracles, but signs.  Signs of what?  Signs of who Jesus was ….the king of God’s kingdom.

In the earlier Synoptic Gospels, Jesus flat-out refuses to do signs in order to demonstrate his personal identity.  In Matthew 12:38-42, the Pharisees request a “sign” from Jesus; from the context it is obvious what they mean: they want a physical demonstration – a miracle – to prove that he is the messiah sent from God.  Jesus refuses to do a sign, and tells them that “no sign will be given to this adulterous and sinful generation” 

Jesus insists he will not do any signs to prove himself.   He will not perform a miracle to prove his identity.   And so Jesus’ miracles are not called signs in the Synoptic Gospels.
That is striking, because, as indicated, Jesus’ amazing deeds are not called miracles in the Gospel of John but are precisely called “signs”.   They are called this for a clear and certain reason:  in this Gospel, unlike the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus engages in spectacular deeds – seven of them (the perfect number remember!) – precisely in order to “signify” who he is.  

For a variety of reasons it is widely thought this final chapter was an addendum added either by the author himself or, more likely, by a later editor.  Here is how the book originally ended in the earliest documents:  “Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not recorded in this book.”  

The miraculous deeds, then, are miraculous proofs that Jesus is who he says he is: the messiah.   It is important to note, that Jesus spends his ministry talking almost exclusively about his identity in the Gospel of John.   He does *not* do so in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.   In John Jesus declares that he is a divine being, and he does miracles to prove it. This is a very, very different Jesus from the one found in the earlier synoptic Gospels.  So, when someone asks – as conservative Christians often do – whether Jesus was who he said he was,  one always needs to ask “in which Gospel?”

In short, the miracles of Jesus, for John ….and only for John, are meant to convince people in John’s congregation that Jesus’ claims to divinity are true.  That is why Jesus does his “signs.”

But let us look at the truth of our own lives…one we know for sure. Without condemning one another or ourselves we must confess that in our yearly journey with Jesus we have often chosen to live with Pilate in the “kingdom of this world.” In the beauty and possibility of “my kingdom that is not from here” (v. 36)—which Jesus said is right next to us, right now—but we still don’t get it! 

We often judge worth and value in the many ways Jesus asked us not to. We narrow the definition of “neighbor”. We prioritize by what is practical and politically expedient. We place first things first. We’re all for “onward and upward” and “more, better, and faster.” We emulate “kings” and rulers but dismiss or overlook servant heroes disguised as people who are wounded, flawed, or…. just like us.

All the while Jesus kept saying and doing his Truth right there in the scriptures. “It’s right here. Move this last-place person to first, Move that priority from the bottom of the list to the top, listen to the persistent whisper below all those prominent voices until you hear it more and more clearly. Now, can we see and hear?”

Here’s the Truth on which to end the Christian year: You and I and all creation belong to the Truth. Like Pilate, however, many of us negotiate our lives inside a “kingdom of this world” that is often—at best, a flat, fuzzy image of the rich depths of God’s kingdom. It’s not real. 

The Truth is this: the reign of God is as close as our breath and as real as the world outside our windows. But, we’ve got to change our perspectives to see it and we have to learn to live it. 

So, let us put the servant on a pedestal. Now, we start preparing to be uncovered and discovered by the Truth once more. We don’t look where we normally look. We need to seek out our lonely neighbor. Step through the door at the local laundromat, hangout, or social service center. Let us be a disciple! And I’m a great one to tell you that. I still haven’t invited my neighbor to church!

At the end of the Christian calendar year, it is time for us to remember the truths Jesus taught throughout his life. As we look back on the Christian year, we are called to confession in order to move forward into Advent. .Jesus’ Truth lifts up very different priorities from the daily cultural truths and messages we hear. So, how does it feel to end the Christian calendar year with this unsettling tension-filled passage of scripture? What message from the scripture helps put into context the end of another yearly journey with Jesus’ message in the here and now?”

 We are invited to gather under the sanctuary of God’s peaceable reign, but we sometimes choose other painful, often death-dealing ways. As we reflect on this year’s journey, let us also ask ourselves, “Where has God’s Truth been manifest in our lives, the church, and the world?

Thursday and Breakfast with the Girls.

At 9:00 this morning, I will go to breakfast with the girls (and Bobby).  Joyce is back from California now and I expect we will hear all about her trip. Last week, I didn't eat anything first and late in the day I noticed I had not taken my meds. So this morning I will eat a banana before  I go to breakfast so I will be sure to take my meds.

I played Skip Bo at the senior center yesterday afternoon and had a good time. Then last night I went with Marilyn to PINCH. That was fine but I was really tired last night. I was so tired I didn't sleep well. I have the sermon coming up on Sunday at church and I was also concerned about that.

It's after 5:00 now so I'd better make my bed and dress. I'll get back to this later...

Made my bed, dressed, made up my face, had my banana and my meds as well as my coffee. I even took my trash out. I still have two hours before the "official"  breakfast. It is light out now.  Missy is in the den on the day bed. She wanted to go out when I took the trash out but it was too cold to stay out. It's 41 degrees now.

We will have a chicken noodle casserole for lunch with a veggie and some more fruit and cookies for dessert.  Bob will bring a salad.  I will take the two pieces of hamburger pie to Marilyn when she gets up this morning. She said she would have it for lunch today. She can reheat it in the microwave.

More later...

That breakfast was kind of a fiasco. I expected to hear Joyce tell about her trip to San Fransisco but Karan and she dominated the conversation to the place where Bobby and I mostly just sat.  Marilyn had opted out. She had had a trying day yesterday and was worn out and needed some private quiet time. That was wise under the circumstances.

Karan wants me to speak at Bobby's services when he is gone. She talked about it right in front of Bobby. I don't know how comfortable he was with that but it made me uncomfortable. When it is my time, the only thing I want to know is that my kids are around until I'm gone and the services will be theirs to plan.  I would like to have a Celebration of Life type service and not a funeral with a preaching service. They have picked out Bobby's casket, made the arrangements and even chosen the headstone.  I'll leave all that to my family. I want to be cremated.

Maybe I'm strange. ...let's face it..I am strange. :)

Now I have to get ready to fix lunch...More later...

What a mess fixing lunch was today. I got the white sauce finished and got ready to add the chicken and discovered that I had bought "Chicken of the Sea" for boned chicken. That's tuna. I was also short on milk. So I ran down to the Dollar General store and bought a large can of boned chicken after putting the tuna in a jar and in the frig. Then since I was short on milk too, I stopped next door  to Braums and bought milk too. When I got back, I finished the casserole and fixed the broccoli.  What a mess. Bob did bring coleslaw and also a Razzleberry pie that he found in Wal Mart. He baked it and brought it and it was very good. We will have plenty for the rest of the week. If the weather turns bad, we will stay home for Thanksgiving and go to "Just Us" for that meal. It's supposed to rain on Wednesday and we will go to Branson in the rain.

Now he is checking his e-mail and I am fixing my blog.

I will take Missy out this afternoon since it is nice out now.  She will be happy. She will hate winter when she can't go outside.

I asked Miss Kitty if she wanted to go out  but she didn't budge. Silly cat! This is her best chance.

She just lays there in the recliner (which she thinks is hers) and ignores me.