Author Archives: dawnlizjones

About dawnlizjones

Tends toward TMI, so here's the short list: guitar and banjo (both of which have been much neglected as of late), bicycling (ibid), dogs, very black tea, and contemplating and commenting on deep philosophical thoughts about which I have had no academic or professional training. Oh, also reading, writing, but I shy away from arithmetic.

Fake News by any other name…

news-1337740_1920When I was younger, we had several words for what is today called “fake news”.  We called it embellishment, exaggeration, or bold-faced lying.  Consider, however, a peculiar strain of philosophers who question whether or not truth empirically exists, and if so, is it actually knowable? 

Solomon seemed to think so, and he pretty well had the monopoly on wisdom, not be mention several other things:  

Commit yourself to instruction;
    listen carefully to words of knowledge.

And a little further down the page:

Get the truth and never sell it;
    also get wisdom, discipline, and good judgment.

I appreciate his imperative use of “get the truth”.  It invokes another part of philosophy called logic, which states  or ‘a’ cannot equal ‘not a’.  In other words, you cannot have two opposing statements be true at the same time (or something like that; one my end, sometimes it’s helpful to put down the philosophy book and pick up Calvin and Hobbes.)

According to King Solomon, truth is something I can go get; I can commit myself to its proper and prosperous instruction because (1) it exists, and (2) is available.  Evidently, it comes with wisdom, discipline and good judgment thrown in for good measure.  But I have to go and get it.  Intentionally.  Persistently.  Disregarding all that is “not truth”.

Which is a muddy pool to wade in for our society these days, or any culture in any time period since we got booted out of the Garden.  We have a distinct tendency (as opposed to the rest of creation, if you’ll notice) to prefer “Not-A” if ‘A’ is less to our liking, and we have various and sundry reasons as to why don’t like it.

Actually, ‘it’ is a ‘Who’, which puts a name and history to just what we are rejecting.  Here’s what Jesus says about Himself:

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

Which makes the rejection personal, not merely philosophical. 

Proverbs 23:12,23; John 14:6  Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Advertisement

Beware: Fierce lions in my yard

cat-2536662_1920“A man generally has two reasons for doing a thing.  One that sounds good, and a real one.”

That’s from the practical wisdom of J.P. Morgan, one of most influential bankers of the early 20th century. 

Of course, then there are those who are a bit more honest about their motivation, like Phyllis Diller:

“Housework can’t kill you, but why take a chance?”

On the one hand:

A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions.
    The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.

On the other hand:

The lazy person claims, “There’s a lion out there!
    If I go outside, I might be killed!”

Why is one cautious person congratulated for being prudent while the other is vilified as a three-toed sloth?

It really all has to do with motive. 

The prudent (wise, forward-thinking) one “foresees”, meaning he’s diligently done his research and understands the probabilities (are lions endemic to this area?), and based on those probabilities, he may take his gun out with him and search the area before proceeding. 

The lazy person, by contrast, stays on the coach and opens another beer…because that’s what he really prefers to do.  Making excuses for his decision assuages his own conscience, regardless of how ridiculous those excuses seem.

In fact, humans are probably the only part of God’s creation who uses the art of rationalization, that finely tuned skill of making excuses, even deluding ourselves into thinking those excuses are true.  

Here’s interesting application: “I don’t read the Bible because I don’t understand it.”

I’m glad medical students don’t adhere to that philosophy: “I don’t read my A&P text because I don’t understand it.”  A student—a real one, that is—does something about their lack of understanding. 

And for my sake, I’m glad they do!

Proverbs 22:3,13  Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


“Mahwidge…mahwidge is what bwings us togetha today…”

jealousy-3029711_1920Please pardon the old movie referred to in the title.  If you don’t know where it’s from, no worries–it’s not worth it.

We’re coming up on thirty-eight years, Bob and I.  Old-timers know how the stars in the eyes you both had walking down the aisle fade pretty quickly after maybe five years. 

How about five minutes?

And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because communication patterns have to be adapted to each other’s personality type, fatigue level, ongoing external stresses, and for some of us, that time of the month.  Just bein’ real here. Continue reading


T-bones or corncobs?

bag-147782_1280I love the story of the Prodigal Son, on several layers.  Did you know that the word prodigal doesn’t mean “sinful”?  It means extravagant.  Wasteful.  Lavish.  I guess I didn’t know that until well into my adulthood.  The kid in the story certainly exemplifies the concept quite well.

But do you ever wonder why that father acquiesced to his son’s request for the early payout on his inheritance?  Maybe I just don’t know the Jewish custom back in that day, or maybe it isn’t relevant to the point Jesus was trying to make, because here’s the thing:

An inheritance obtained too early in life
    is not a blessing in the end.

This kid was in no way ready to handle his inheritance wisely.  His father had to know that, but handed over his intended wealth anyway and, well, we know the end result…something about trading T-bone steaks for empty corncobs.

Recent brain studies are telling us more about the frontal lobe of the human brain; in particular, how this part of our brain (which determines good judgment, actions/consequences, as well as being the reasonable brakes on otherwise impulsive emotions) does not fully mature—are you ready for this one?—until early to mid-twenties. 

I wonder how long it takes my spiritual frontal lobe to mature? 

Here’s an example: I heard a pastor say, (see? I really do listen!), that many times God intentionally withholds His blessing because we’re not ready to use it properly.  That this withholding is, in fact, God’s discipline preparing us to handle the blessing in the most sustainable way, in the way which produces the highest return to bless others and build His kingdom. 

Maybe instead of asking for blessing, I need to pray for disciplined maturity.  I think somehow the blessing will naturally follow.

Proverbs 20:21 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


Spoon-fed

study 2Dad is a retired engineer, a graduate of Purdue University, a true Boilermaker is ever there was one.  He was the first of his family to go to college, not a small accomplishment having been born at the start of the Great Depression.  After his stint in the Navy, and a bit of disgruntlement with the union’s treatment of his hard work ethic, he decided to go back to school.  So here was a seasoned vet in his early twenties heading off to classes with fresh-faced high school graduates in a post-Korea university setting.

The stories are hilarious, and quite enlightening. Continue reading


Don’t kill the mockingbird (just shut him up)

tree-46766_1280I’m sitting on the back porch as the birds herald in the morning when I hear the cat-bird.  Yea, he’s back!  I love that odd avian sound truly mimicking a cat. 

Oh, wait.  Now I’m hearing a jumble of sounds (including the cat-bird’s) all mixed together, all different.  There seems to be a cacophony of twitters all coming from the same bird in rapid fire succession.  It’s still pretty dark, so I can’t see the perpetrator, but it’s got to be a mockingbird—that strange creation that can’t seem to find a voice of its own.  Continue reading


Tickets, please.

airplane-2619434_1920I love to fly.  I’ve been in jets, small private planes, and even a free-float hot air balloon.  Something birds take for granted, I suppose, but for me, being up in the air is exhilarating. 

I’m not a pilot, however, so I reap the benefit of their knowledge and expertise.  My oldest brother is a pilot and has a couple of small aircraft up in Minnesota.  One year when visiting up there, he took me up for a look-see around the area with all those beautiful lakes and lush countryside.  We took off and landed on a dirt runway, and he even let me take control to actually “fly” the plane. 

That lasted about ten seconds while I freaked out.

He also told me not to worry, but since my door was partially open, and would I please full it shut and latch it?  Sure, no problem.

I still love flying. Continue reading


Have a plan

moses-2628535_1920Moses, what a guy.  Talk about job stress—the perks were pretty great but so were the occupational hazards.  (And I think I have tough days!)  At least there was clear communication with the Boss; no lost email trails or intra-office misinterpretation of body language, all that.  God’s instructions were always unmistakably clear, right down to what colors of decorative embroidery thread to use for the big church tent!

One year into their miraculous escape/rescue from centuries of Egyptian slavery, God now has them positioned to pull up the stakes and start their journey in earnest to the Promised Land. 

He has also promised to be their Guide, a cloud by day and something that looks like a pillar of fire by night.  Again, fairly distinctive, even for someone directionally challenged, like me.  When He moves left, they move left.  When He stops, they stop, and up go all the tents.  Kind of like a cosmic GPS.  What could be easier?

Then I read this short conversation sandwiched in the account of the Israelites getting ready to leave.  It’s between Moses and his brother-in-law, Hobab, (who is not an Israelite).  Moses is inviting him to join them on their journey, and that they will share all the blessings that God will give them. 

“But Hobab replied, ‘No, I will not go. I must return to my own land and family.’  ‘Please don’t leave us,’ Moses pleaded. ‘You know the places in the wilderness where we should camp. Come, be our guide.’”

Hold on.  I thought God was their guide…?  Has the great leader of the Old Testament who walked his people through the sea on dry land and spoken to God Almighty in the burning bush suddenly gotten cold feet?

As much as I love the “humanness” of our biblical heroes, I don’t think that is the case.  We’re talking about over a million human beings here, so “camping out” isn’t just a matter of taking over, say, an entire State Park.  It’s more like taking over Chicago.  God was going to guide Moses to a general area; a good leader was needing to prepare for at least some of the particulars.

Now, I’ll admit that one of my failsafe, fall back phrases is “God’s got a plan”.  Okay, true enough.  But many times, the very real question of the moment is,… do I?

“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.”

In other words, God’s guidance does not preclude my personal responsibility.  Reasoning brain and redeemed spirit work hand-in-hand.  It may seem like push and shove sometimes, but God can still get His end result accomplished.

ThreadBecause sometimes He may just give us the pattern and let us pick out the color of thread.

Numbers 10:30; Proverbs 16:9 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


What’s on your summer reading list?

gossip

Another insightful painting by beloved Norman Rockwell.

Bob and I were watching a really interesting TV show on the top 100 popular books.  Now, how they came up with that short list, I don’t know, and it ranged from John Bunyan’s Pilgrim Progress to modern day novels that have influenced people in, well, other ways.

One of the neat things about this program is that it’s interactive, meaning you go online and cast your vote for your favorite book (among the short list, naturally), and you can vote once a day until the show’s finale.  Which means you can stuff the ballot box, I suppose. 

During the show, different people were interviewed on their Number One choice, and I was impressed how this divergent sampling of human effort has influenced individuals, and in some cases, greatly.

Like me.  One of John Bunyan’s other books, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, was my door to deliverance in a very real way.  But that’s another story, and anyway, I doubt that’s on the list.

The point is that words, or communication of any sort, are powerful.  That includes not only what we put out but just as importantly, what we take in.  In Proverbs chapter 15, information transfer of some sort is mentioned at least fourteen times!  And they didn’t even have social media yet!  Here’s an example of output:

“The tongue of the wise makes knowledge appealing,
    but the mouth of a fool belches out foolishness.”

Most of us have probably been party to both—my hand is raised.  What we perhaps don’t emphasize enough is the personal responsibility of intake:

“Plans go wrong for lack of advice;
    many advisers bring success.”

What I choose to listen to (or read) is actually just as important as what I choose to say (or write, as it were.) We all know the damage done by slurs on social media.  But do we realize that the damage is done not only because those things are put out there, but because they are read? In other words, the reader is just as culpable as the writer.  Always.

I know that I can be quite impacted by stories, mental images both from descriptive writing and the silver screen.  It’s the way we are wired, since the word (lower case “w”) is powerful, being created so by God Himself.  Therefore, what I choose to listen to is also powerful decision.

Sometimes earplugs are a good investment. 

president-1822449_1920

Proverbs 15: 2,22 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


Teenage bedroom–hard hat required.

kids-2030268_1920When our youngest went to Peru on a month-long mission trip right before high school, I decided I would take advantage of her absence to clean her room.  Thoroughly.  As in a full-scale geological excavation. 

I found a full laundry basket, only it was stratified with layers of clean, dirty, clean, etc. I unearthed underwear from elementary school, and (if I recall rightly) a hard, green mass under the bed reputed to be petrified Jello—lime, I think.  Continue reading