They were my kinfolk, my people - many of whom I'm still friends with today, though we've scattered across the country, spilling out in different directions as fast as we could once we'd tossed our graduation caps in the air.

Aimee Nezhukumatathail - World of Wonders

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It's In the Past

Three Dave's No Waiting

Saturday, January 30, 2021

12 from 2020

One of the reason why I continue blogging is to read and respond to the great content other bloggers provide.  I have decided to highlight 12 posts from other blogs from 2020 that really moved me.  

Blogs these day are somewhat of an endangered species.  I feature 9 different blogs in this article.  2 of them only posted one time in 2020.I feature posts from two other blogs that have been dark for at least 4 months now.  So, unless those 4 blogs begin to produce content again none of their fine writing will be here on display if I choose to make this an annual thing.  

As you might imagine, the majority of these posts are about Covid, race, and the election. Each bloggers puts their own unique take on these and other subjects,  Some of these bloggers are fairly well know people like Rhett McLaughlin of Rhett and Link fame and Pastor and Author John Piper.  Others are regular everyday people like my Sister-in-law.  . In any case, I think they all deserve more mention than my mostly unread blog can provide.  However, we all should do what we can, and I can cut and paste links.

The Kinship of Things March 4, 2020

It may be difficult to imagine a hopeful piece about house arrest. Steve West talks about his life in an early covid lockdown and by using his and other's memories talks about doing far more with far less.  

Favorite line: I keep my neighbors at a distance, and yet hold them close.

Cristina Ramos Payne brought her blog out of mothballs :) to bring encouragement to Covid induced new homeschooling parents.  She must have saved the moth balls because unfortunately for the blogosphere she has not posted since. :(

Favorite line: The idea of having the kids home 24-7 can be overwhelming, but it is also an opportunity to deepen your relationship.

My Sister in Law captured Covid anxiety as seen  through the eyes of her children in a palpable and powerful way. 

Favorite line: I finally said to him, "I don't know what it's like to be you!"
Allies  April 29, 2020

One of the many things I like about Steve West's fine blog is that to misquote When Harry met Sally is I want to have he's having over the more than a decade I've been following his blog his descriptions of film, literature and music have informed what I have consumed. I need to read his posts with my library card next to me so I can look for the materials he's mentioning right away.

Allies continues the house arrest theme he started in The Kinship of Things but focusses as our homes  being the hero of the story. A concept he is quick to point out comes from author D.J. Waldie.

It's hard to make 1 line my favorite out of such a profound and poetic piece.  One line that sums up the piece well is ...

My ally stands. “Here’s a place—a fragile, earthen vessel, admittedly, yet one that will hold you, for now,” it says

And yes, I just did order Diane Keaton's book House which D.J. Waldie wrote the text for from my home librray. 

Rhett McLaughlin gives advice to himself and all other white men about how to process  the racial discord  of the Spring of 2020. I found it a helpful reminder.

Favorite passage: Before you begin building your case as to why you’re not contributing to the problem — or why there really isn’t a problem in the first place — just be quiet.  Black Americans are speaking loudly and clearly. If you take a moment to stop defending yourself or finding fault with those fighting for justice, you might be able to listen.

Idolatry and Politics August 5, 2020

In 1982 I started attending Des Plaines Evangelical Free Church. Shortly after that their former youth minister took the job as their pastor.  He influenced much of my early Christian thinking and thanks to his blog continues to do so almost 40 years later.  

In Idolatry and Politics he makes a convincing argument that poliitcal extremism on any side of the political spectrum is just another name for idolatry.  Lindy's posts make up 1/4 of this years review, so expect to see a couple more of his writings later on in the list.  

Favorite Line: If people are totally "pro-Trump" or "anti-Ttump" they have abandoned their use of logic and reason. 

Author's Note: Erstwhile (former) and penultimate (2nd to last) are 2 of my favorite words and I use them as often as I can.

My erstwhile pastor appears on this list for his penultimate time with a profile of Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse.  At the time of this post's mid October publication, Sasse was one of the few  GOP lawmakers who would stand up against President Trump.

My favorite passage was a quote from Sasse:

 “If young people become permanent Democrats because they’ve just been repulsed by the obsessive nature of our politics, or if women who were willing to still vote with the Republican Party in 2016 decide that they need to turn away from this party permanently in the future, the debate is not going to be, you know, ‘Ben Sasse, why were you so mean to Donald Trump?’ It’s going to be ‘What the heck were any of us thinking that selling a TV-obsessed narcissistic individual to the American people was a good idea?’ It is not a good idea.

Blog: Thirst
The Good Place October 21, 2020

Full disclosure: I discovered this blog earlier this year while researching my previous post about Comedian a song by Steve Taylor and the Perfect Foil. While I did not originally read this post in 2020,   it does meet the 2 the criteria I set for this list: 1) it is a post from 2020 and 2) The blog it comes from is on my blogroll.  

Keith Shields post which waxes philosophical about the NBC comedy The Good Place is one of the few post from this list that is not about covid, politics or race relations.  It is an old school blog post that takes a culturally relevant topic to explore the human condition. 

I liked how Shields did enough explaining about the show so someone not familiar with the show could still relate to the point he was making but did not over explain it in a way that would take meaning away from the point he made.

Favorite Line: It becomes obvious that we must give up on seeking to be good or we will turn ourselves into neurotic do-gooders who question every move. 

Blog: Desiring God 

Policies, Persons and Paths to Ruin: Pondering the Implications of the 2020 Election October 22, 2020

Author and Pastor John Piper  is not the only contributor to the blog on the Desiring God but his posts are generally the ones I most appreciate.  This post I found especially gratifying as I had decided on the same course of action for the election as he did.  Well approximately the same, he chose a write in candidadte, I just moved on to the next race. Piper makes a very good defense of not voting for Trump or Biden without mentioning either by name.

Favorite Line: In fact, I think it is a drastic mistake to think that the deadly influences of a leader come only through his policies and not also through his person.

In the aftermath of the horriffic events of January 6th, 2021 many people wrote that they were not surprised by the events.  Lindy Scott was one of them but I think that's because he said this 2 weeks prior to the election: (Italics mine*) 

Something similar is happening now in the presidential election. Trump has predicted that he will win when the votes are counted OR if the tally shows him losing, it will be because of vote fraud. He has also affirmed  that he would take the election to the Supreme Court if he loses. This is dangerous for our country. If there is a fair election AND Trump actually loses, many of his more devoted followers might protest the counting of mail in votes and declare fraud. Some of these followers might turn to violence.

I am certain this is not something Lindy wanted to be right about. At least we can't say He didn't warn us.  

* I've always wanted to say italics mine.  As long as we are doling out punctuation marks, I'll take the ampersand.

Blog: The Aaugh Blog 

Colorblind Eye Patch Dec 9, 2020

The Aaugh Blog is an independent Peanuts website that I quite enjoy.  I really liked this post that talks about some of my favorite strips from when I was a kid when Sally had lazy eye.  No favorite line just favorite memories.

Blog: Thinking Person's Guide To Autism

Losing Hard Won Freedoms: The Pandemics Toll on People with I/DD  December 10, 2020

I hate to end on a sour note but Covid has been especially hard on people with disabilites. as I'm typing this on My daughter who has high functioning autism is playing monopoly with her Mom and sister.  (More on this epic game here and here.  That reminds me  that she has been unable to attend her monthly game night for young adults with HFA for almost a year.  As Ivanova Smith  states it ican be much more difficult for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities than just missing a game night.  

Favorite Line:  (Smith describing the effects of the isolation that pandemic restrictions has caused her). I feel like I am stuck in a car that keeps going backwards and backwards and I can’t make it stop.


Saturday Afternoon Monopoly

 My girls are passing this Saturday afternoon with a game of Monopoly.  

I figured this might be a good time to catch you, readers, up with my family

Emma FKA Bunny Girl is 21 now.  

She says Monopily is going good. She has two light blues an orange 2 railroads and a Brown. She is functioning as the banker,

Amy is still working as a School Bob Newhart/Psychologist.  She is doing real estate in the game and 1 monopoly 1 blue, 2 railroads,2 greens and a red.  She is currently in negotiations with L.J./Lucy FKA Wolfina/Puppy which have come to a standstill over the red and blue properties.

The previously mentioned LJ is a Freshman and has finally started live (hybrid) learning as a public school high school Freshman after being homeschooled for all of her middle school career and most of elementary school.  She has 2 reds, both utilities Boardwalk, and New York.

They are taking a break right now. All in all, it's a nice way to spend a Saturday as more snow heads our way.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Ski Lodge Lunch


Lunch was kind of a hodgepodge today.  We had some leftover chicken taco meat in the fridge and a can of cream corn and some beans.  So I whipped up something chili like and had it with apple cider. I felt like I was at a ski lodge! Yummmm!

Sunday, January 17, 2021

How to get through 2021: Day by Day

I volunteer with our church youth group, It is for 6th graders through 12th graders.  Until recently it was two separate youth groups one for 6th 7th and 8th graders and one for 9th through 12th graders  meeting on separate nights of the week.  During the Summer we would allow the incoming 6th graders to join the middle school group and the outgoing 8th graders to attend both groups.  As the Summer would draw to an end I would give the outgoing 8th graders a short (2-3 minute) commencement  on their last night of the younger group.

In 2016 my son Charlie was one of the kids moving up to the high school group.  I challenged the students to have a "2020" vision of what they hoped to achieve in High School especially how they could be used by God in their new schools.  

Little did any of us know about what the year 2020 held for us. In fact my son's senior year was progressing quite normally until March 13th turned out to be his last day of high school that actually met at the high school.  Since that day, 2020 was a rather tumultuous year (Understatement Alert).  

The events of the past 2 weeks make 2021 look like it's going to be more of the same.  How do we get through another year like that?

The answer both figurarively, literally and musically is Day By Day

As this  great song suggests we can not only get through 2021 but thrive in the midst of it by doing these 3 things from Day by Day, day by day.

Seeing God more clearly

Loving God more dearly

Following God more nearly.

So like I told the YG in 2016 vision is important.  The vision that God is showing me for 2021 requires more time Seeing God through time spent in his word, Following God through obedience to his word  and Loving God by loving his creation.  I hope to expound on this more in further posts. Right now I'm just taking it day by day.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Comedian By Steve Taylor

 I lived in Russia between the end of 1992 and the end of 1994.  During those 2 years abroad, I missed many things.  By missed I don't mean longed for, although I certainly did miss Mountain Dew and Lou Malnatis's pizza by that definition and was glad when my brother brought those along when he visited me.  I also don't mean by miss that I wasn't there for it, yet heard about.  While I want there for the Bronco chase , Nolan Ryan's pummeling of Robin Ventura, Michael Jordan's retirement announcement , or  the birth of my first niece,  I was acutely aware of all 4.

No, what I mean by missed is there were some events that I did not hear about until I was back in the states, sometimes for several years.  Some of these were deaths of famous people, others were books, movies, or music that came out during that time.  It wasn't uncommon to hear someone talk about a movie I had never heard of, only for me to ask if it came out in 1993 or 1994 and quite often it had.  Finally, I had to come to grips that due to my decision to leave the U.S. and plant a church in Russia in the early 1990's that there would be indeed certain things that I left behind and missed entirely.  I never regretted that decision and certainly experienced many more things that I would have never experienced in the states had I stayed put.

Over the past few years I have realized that I have experienced another gap without leaving the U.S. for more than a fortnight every 10 years or so.  I experienced it today when I was playing with my Spotify account in between classes.  There was a recommended song by Steve Taylor and some band he was in and I had never heard of the song or the band.  Now not to be confusing Steve Taylor uses to front for a band called Some Band.  So, I am not referring to them.  The name of the band is The Perfect foil,  and according to Wikipedia it is an alt. rock supergroup featuring artists from 2 more of my favorite groups (Peter Furler from Newsboys & Jimmy Abegg from (A Ragamuffin Band).  What was odd is this super group was formed in 2010, and I was only just hearing about it 11 years later.  Not really odd when you think that in 2010 I was homeschooling my 3 children all under the age of 11.  Listening to old music on c.d.s is something I did when I had the occasional spare time. Keeping up with music was  not something I invested much time in.  Again, I would not trade that time in my life for anything but it does explain how a song like Comedian stayed off my radar for so long.

A nice thing about discovering something you missed from long ago is that when you do eventually discover it, you also  discover many other things alongside it.  In finding out more information in this missing chapter of Steve Taylors musical journey I discovered a blog that writes an awful lot about Christian Music and other topics that interest me.  It is a blog by Keith Shields called Thirst  and he does an entire post about this song.  I encourage you to do what he suggests in his post which is listen to this song (I have put the Spotify link below at the same time you read the lyrics to the song and then read how the song affected him.  (The link to his post is here.) 

I enjoyed his interpretation of a song from 11  years ago that I only just discovered this morning.  Still in all I'm glad I didn't miss it.