Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Porch Is Closed

UPDATE - My New Blog: lifeaftertheporch
The End.

My final post to this blog.

I began posting to this blog on Monday, July 9, 2007. This is my 417th post according to Blogger.

According to Sitemeter there have been more than 31,000 visitor sessions. That's rather amazing in itself.

Today is the 10th anniversary of the day that I traveled from my apartment in Dallas to spend the weekend with my Mom and Dad in 1998 and then to take them to the doctor on the following Monday. Looking back that was the closing of one chapter of my life and the opening of another. Then I could never have imagined myself as a caregiver for a few minutes let alone nearly a decade.

I did, some months back, begin writing a book about those 9 years, now turned 10. It does not seem very important to me now and I do not know if I will write more.

The last few months of caregiving were difficult for me. The time since my Dad's death has been difficult. Blogging helped.

I am grateful to all I've met and who have befriended me here in one way or another. My best wishes to all my friends and my most earnest prayers that the Lord sustain and keep you.

My heartfelt prayers for those of you still in the midst of your own caregiving. It is a difficult task as we all have learned. You all have my greatest admiration and appreciation and thanks.

When I started the blog I needed a title and I chose to use the porch.

The porch was where we gathered as a family to celebrate holidays. It was where I found my parents when I came to visit after I left home when I was 20. It was where we watched the hamburgers and the sausage cook on the gas grill. It was where we sat to eat them. It was where we made ice cream on the 4th of July and then watched fireflies and fireworks out the windows.

It was where the three of us sat and visited and watched the world out the windows when I came to live there in 1998. It was the first place Mom wanted to sit when it was warm enough and when she could walk again in 1999.

It was where Dad and I sat for hours at a time after Mom died. We grieved there together. He, in his recliner, and I, in the old springy lawn chair, would sit there together. I would read the paper and in the early days he would read to me sometimes. We both would comment about the headlines and we always read the obituaries. Sometimes we knew some of those people who died. Sometimes we just read their stories in the paper and somehow that made them more real.

We would listen to music on the old CD player that barely worked. Sometimes we listened to the classical station and sometimes we played a CD over and over.

Judy brought us a bunch of People magazines once and we read them all cover to cover.

We watched crews of people build bridges and widen the streets and build the car wash and the tire store and the Tractor Supply.

We watched the old pond and the trees and the creek disappear. We watched the traffic increase. On Saturdays at noon we listened to the siren that always sounded.

It was where Judy and I sat alone together when we first met in person.

It was where I sat alone early on Saturday mornings and sometimes late at night and often on Sunday afternoons.

Every winter about this time it began to be cold on the porch. There was an old radiator out there but it hadn't worked in years. Besides it wasn't the same during the winter months. So it was better to just shut the doors and open them again during the spring.

This time its different though. The porch will not be opened next spring because there will not be a porch there to open.

So this porch, the old porch at Dad's and Mom's house, is now closed.

Adieu and all my love.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Renew Your Mind

Reading Pastor Stan's book made me think about the Biblical admonitions to renew my mind. Among others this verse is well known:

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12:2 (NASB)
Immediately I found myself drawn to the latter part of the verse. I need to be able to "prove what the will of God is" it says and it seems to indicate that this is the purpose of renewing or renovating my mind.

It is that which transforms me as opposed to being conformed to the culture in which I live and work and play.

Now I find this exceptionally interesting. A lot of people, believers and not, seem to think that God's will is pretty obvious and quite easily understood. If you wait around long enough they will tell you so, too. Often they seem to think I am the one that is on the out while they are the in the know.

But this verse to me at least seems to indicate that is not the case. And this is written not to unbelievers but believers.

It reminds me of a time when I was in graduate school taking this philosophy course. The course was something to do with critical thinking but I no longer remember exactly what it was called.

I got into quite an animated discussion with the professor about the merit of modern physics and the inadequacy of the old. He pointed out to me that the Romans and Greeks had built some structures that were still standing today and their physics held that there were 5 elements: earth, air, water, fire, and ether. I had to admit that their bridges and aqueducts were proving to be considerably superior to ours.

He also argued quite forcefully that the history of science demonstrated that the great advances occurred when someone departed from the accepted thinking of the time rather than staying with the norm. They questioned everything while not abandoning anything.

That's what my professor was trying to get me to understand.

Critical thinking is all about fighting to release oneself from his or her own biases for the most part. Or at least recognizing we have a bias about something and then trying to take it into account while searching for a conclusion.

I think this is one really good reason why my (and everyone else's) mind needs renewal. Like it or not, admit it or not, I have ideas that I just accept. These originate with my culture or my family or even my friends and acquaintances. I accept them because, for the most part, I don't even think about them.

Just Sunday I was reading something and discovered that information I have believed to be true for nearly my entire life has actually been proved wrong. I was shocked. Not because the thing was overturned but because it was one of those little tidbits of fact sitting in the untouchable part of my brain.

So I think one of the most important things about renewing the mind is getting rid of the biases.

It sounds so trivial that we should rid ourselves of our biases but it has to be one of the most difficult things to do I have ever attempted.

Another thing that strikes me in this verse is that the will of God is both knowable and provable. Many people do not believe that and in fact believe exactly the contrary.

Yet another interesting thing to me about this verse is the three characteristics of God's will that are mentioned: good, acceptable, and perfect.

I had not thought about this part of this verse before. Often times the good is difficult to discern. We think a particular choice is good at some time but later, sometimes years later, we find out that it would have proven not so good or even bad for any number of reasons not apparent at the time.

The "acceptable" part gives us a lot of latitude in making decisions. I believe that is true, too. I think in many cases there are various choices that can be made and all are acceptable. Sometimes I think I make too big a deal out of certain decisions.

Then there is perfect which in this sense I think means being complete and lacking nothing. That's a little different I think than being flawless.

Anyway these are just more thoughts I have had about renewing my mind.

Two more days until the porch closes.