Don’t Forget True Religion

I just learned about the Manhattan Declaration last week through a forwarded e-mail. Then our pastor mentioned it at church, so I went to ManhattanDeclaration.org and gave it a “look, see”. I agreed with the front page, so signed it.

This blog was going to be about how I don’t think signing this document will make much of a difference in America. And I still think that is true, as do the authors of the declaration. Unless the signing is also followed up with actions by the signers, but the actions I saw suggested on the website were not very inspiring to me. So I was going to say how those suggested action  items weren’t going to be very helpful to America (e.g. tell your neighbors about the declaration and ask them to sign it).

But to make sure that I wasn’t writing out of line, I decided to do a little more reading on the Manhattan Declaration website, and came away with the opposite opinion. What this declaration encourages Christians to do is, I believe, just what the Bible recommends:

1) Remember that people will know Christians by the love they show – nothing else matters if that is not first and foremost.

2) True religion is to take care of the widow and the orphan (e.i., take care of those who cannot take care of themselves).

3) People must be told about about Jesus. But remember No. 1 and No. 2.

There is so much more in the declaration, but these points stood out to me.

Advertisements

Why do we do that?

My cat loves any water, except the clean water in her dish. Her favorite is the water in the goldfish bowl. But she shows up every morning to lick the water off the door of my embarrassingly dirty shower, and bathtime for the kids always leaves her hankering for the gritty, soapy aftermath in the bottom of the jacuzzi.

I don’t understand it. The goldfish water smells fishy – not just from the fish, but from the additives I put in it to make it safe for the fish. Oh, then there’s the toilets, the bathroom sinks, half empty water glasses drooled in by one of the kids.

But when I put her water dish full of crystal clear, unscented water down, she walks over, sniffs  it, looks at me, and walks away. Every once in awhile she will humor me with a lap or two, but the amount of cat litter I scoop, does not correlate to the amount of water that disappears from her dish. And I have to refill the goldfish bowls more than what would be required simply from evaporation, even in the dry winter air.

My theory is this – she was born a wild kitten in my sister’s barn. She drank from a nearly stagnant rivulet that, I guess a generation or two ago had been used as a sewer. It is all she knew, and now, when presented with something different, though better, she snubs it.

I, unfortunately find myself doing the same thing at times. When presented with a new way of behaving, that will definitely bring more joy into my life than my current way of  behaving, I may give it a little try. But in the long run, I go back to the old lousy way of behaving.

I guess this is a common human problem, since Paul writes a whole passage on it in Romans 7. Verses 15 and 24-25 are my favorites of that section.

I am thankful, that, unlike my cat, whom I allow to continue to drink dirty water, God finds positive and negative pressures to encourage me to change, until, eventually, I want to choose the new, better route. Though I still get lazy and drink the toilet water at times, that happens less and less often, and he promises the same for all of us!

Getting Ready for Spring Break

We just booked tickets to South Padre Island for Spring Break. I am so excited – almost nothing gets me down. I feel like I can endure anything – in 10 weeks I will be on the beach with my husband and kids! I need to make sure I have the right clothes for everyone. I think I may need to trim down just a bit so that I don’t need a whole new wardrobe, but my swimsuit does need replacing regardless.

Need to make sure that there are diversions for everyone for the plane rides, though they are not going to be too long. That is the benefit of living in the midwest – it is only 3 hours to the farthest point in the contiguous 48 states.

All of this excitement and preparation made me think of how I should feel about life, in general. I have a big, glorious mansion in heaven to look forward to. I should be preparing for that experience with the same zest and awaiting it with the same unassailable peace and joy. After all, God has promised that He will give me that mansion, and that he will sustain me as I eagerly await that day.

I should be more excited and preparing more zealously for heaven than for South Padre Island. After all, this world is full of uncertainties. There are many things that could happen to prevent us from going, or that could require us to leave early, or could cause us to have a lousy time while we are there.

But I am thankful that God understands my human frailty and is, as far as I know, allowing me to enjoy his wonderful creation on a vacation. And I thank Him for reminding me to look to him everyday with the same anticipation, since his promises of joy, fulfillment, and security are greater than those offered by an island vacation (though in my frailty, it is hard to fathom!).

Funding for ASD/Military Family Camp

My parents have a lake home on Spirit Lake, directly across from the Whispering Pines camp property in Burnett County, Wisconsin. The camp property has come up for sale.
 
My husband and I are interested in keeping Whispering Pines a Christian camp that serves the spiritual needs of families in the area. We would like to start a religious non-profit, so we would not own the camp, the non-profit would.
 
Our dream is to have a place for whole families struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to have a place to recuperate both physically and spiritually. We would like to offer hippotherapy (horse therapy), physical, occupational, and recreational therapy. We would also like to offer educational and counseling services, and most importantly spiritual support for the whole family through chapel services, kids programs and chaplains. Then, of course, the beauty of the lake and the enjoyment of the outdoors would add to the healing process. Our focus would be on serving military families and other families who have a loved one with a long-term developmental or physical disability. But all families experience extreme stress at times, so we would like to provide a place for all families to heal, and grow closer to God and each other.
 
I realize that there are several other Bible camps in the area, but they all focus on children or offering spiritual retreats for families and individuals without the added physical and psychological care that the we would seek to provide. Also, I understand that there is a new retreat center in the area for families who have lost a child or are suffering under the stress of a terminally ill child. The families we hope to serve do not fit into these categories – the families we hope to serve have a member who is temporarily or permanently disabled, but who is not terminally ill.
 
I realize that there are already two other offers on the property – one to make it into a housing development, another to make it into a campground. However, those offers are contingent on zoning changes.
If we can go to the zoning commission meeting on Thursday, Dec. 17 with a viable plan to keep the property a camp, we may be able to persuade the zoning commission to not approve the zoning changes required for the other two offers.
 
I figured out that with 20% down on a $970,000 dollar loan (that is what the current housing development offer is), we would need about $210,000 for a down payment and closing costs, and about $4500 a month to pay for the mortgage, assuming a loan at 5.25 %. My husband and I are able to finance a chunk of this project. If you, or anyone you know would be interested in supporting such a project, let me know and at what amount. If we could have some sort of viable funding by Thursday, that may help to keep the zoning change from being approved.
 
Thank you for your thoughtful consideration. I will not make any comments that disclose financial or contact information public.
Heather Holbrook
 

My biggest Bumper Sticker pet peeve

You know that bumper sticker that says mean things about mean people? It’s been around for years. You know the one – it says, “Mean People S#!%.”

The first time I ever saw that sticker on the back of someone’s car I gave them a WIDE berth. Definitely did not want to get into their way for fear they might decide for some reason that I was mean and would then proceed to do me harm.

The funny thing was, the other day I mentioned to a neurotypical friend how oxymoronic I found that bumper sticker to be. My friend stopped, thought for a minute, and actually thought the bumper sticker was OK! Seriously?!

After I explained that saying someone, “s#$%s,” is mean (I really didn’t think something this obvious needed explaining!), my friend had to agree that the driver with the bumper sticker is now just as mean as the people this driver is supposedly trying to call out.

This bumper sticker helps bring home the reality of the verses in Matthew 5 where Jesus says to be good to those who are your enemies. Because if we are not, then we are just as despciable as them (hey, that’s two weeks in a row God has had me blog on that section of the Bible – hmmmm, God is up to something here…).

This interaction with my friend is a poster child for the social problems those of us with Asperger’s encounter. We are constantly confused by the double-standards that neurotypicals live by (e.g., thinking that it is not mean to say something mean about a mean person to everyone who drives by).

I believe that is one of the reasons God has allowed us Aspies to be around – we point out the obvious hypocrisies considered normal, acceptable behavior to everyone else.

However, before we Aspies become too high on ourselves, remember that even though we realize these hypocricies that are hidden to others, we are no better at living out the truth. Ironically, because of our extreme sensitivity and difficulty at doing more than one thing at a time (e.g., feeling angry and being able to think of the correct behovioral response at the same time), we spend more time being angry with people and more time treating them poorly than much of the general population.

Thank you God for using us to show others the truth of what you expect of us. Thank you for keeping us humbled by the limitations of our syndrome. Thank you that by relying on you, you can help us act in accordance to your will, when we can not on our own.