Archive for December 2015

The Force Re-Awakens   Leave a comment

That is what I was waiting for!

If you’ve been a fan since you were 10 years old, like I have, and you haven’t yet seen the new movie–you will not be disappointed!

Let’s ignore the prequel movies, which I always think of as the 4th, 5th and 6th movies because that is the order they were released in, and the new numbering just confuses the heck out of me.  We can be thankful those are over and done, and I’m still thankful I didn’t waste my money seeing them all in the theater.

This new release is just the right amount of old and new to make a very satisfying “comfort food” movie for us life time fans.  And it’s exciting and interesting enough for someone who’s never gotten into Star Wars before.

I’m the kind of annoying viewer who likes to whisper comments and questions to the friend I’m sitting next to.  I did that yesterday, during the previews, and then for maybe the first fifteen minutes of the film.

But after that, I honestly pretty much lost track of who I was even in the theater with.  It’s that good.

If someone had told me in 1977 that the new movie I loved would still be going strong 38 years later, with 6 sequels, I would never have believed it.  I mean, yes, it’s good, but who could have dreamed the story would capture so many people?

So much family history.  My mother had read a review about it and wanted very much to see it (besides it had Alec Guinness in it) and our family drove 100 miles from the Montana backwater we lived in to see it.  I was given a black Star Wars T-shirt by someone, which I still have.  Yes, it’s a bit small, but it’s in my top dresser drawer.  Back in the day before VCR players, imagine my delight when my father took me to town to see the movie for an unprecedented second viewing after I won the school spelling bee!




imagine my horror when Han Solo started out onto the catwalk to try to reach his renegade son….not good.

Imagine my delight to see a woman taking on the head of the new First Order, and putting out his light saber for good.  (Did anyone else notice the empowering feminist message represented there?)

Love to see new actors get cast in great roles.

You’ll love it too.


Posted December 28, 2015 by swanatbagend in movie reviews

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Define Friend   Leave a comment

One word in the English language is not descriptive enough: friend.

We have “acquaintance” and “bud.”  We have other words for family members and in-laws.  I suppose some of them are not so complementary, but at least there are specific terms for just about every relation you have.

But for friends there is–friends.

If a person is not just an acquaintance, then she becomes a casual friend.  Then maybe a good friend.

Then a close friend or a dear friend, and after enough years have passed, an old friend.

See the problem?  There aren’t words for the friend herself, only adjectives for clarification.

There really are many distinctions in friendship, but there are no words available in American English with which to make those distinctions.

Colleague? Associate?  That’s business, not friendship.

Chum?  too British; we don’t use it.

Companion?  Too formal.

Cohort, compatriot, comrade?  Too Communist!

Sidekick?  Too cheesy.

Intimate?  Familiar?  In our culture, we generally use those words as adjectives.

There are words for friends, but they aren’t in common usage, and many of those which I’ve sampled above are intended for specific contexts.  I’d like a one word word for a new friend, a casual friend, a long-term friend, a good friend, a childhood friend and a lifetime friend.  There aren’t any words for the amazing range of friendships that exist.

Maybe my soul mates and my best buds can help me out on this topic.




Posted December 28, 2015 by swanatbagend in friendship

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Must it be so exclusive?   Leave a comment

I spent the first eight years of homeschooling life, if you count preschool co-ops, with a group of people who made decisions by consensus and who took turns doing the work of the co-op.  We met in a church, but had a variety of faith beliefs amongst us.  We talked about what to do in group meetings, which were facilitated by someone who was good at hearing our concerns and helping us hear each other.

I always felt respected in this group.  Each person was free to speak up about problems that had come up with the kids during the co-op.  Each person was valued.  Our children had a lot of fun spending time with each other.  They also got group problem solving laid out for them, not just in the way the adults modeled it, but when Miss Janet helped them to walk through the very same process in circle time when they had conflicts with each other.

So–I thought this model was the norm.

In my current city, there are quite a few homeschool co-ops.  When I moved to the area I had trouble narrowing down the options.  I found few that were similar to what our family was used to.  Many were quite large and well established, which can be a plus for those who want the playing field already marked out.

But in a large group you will find it impractical to solve things by consensus.  And with dozens or hundreds of students and parents, you can’t create the schedule or student conduct guidelines by consulting everyone.  All that is understandable due to size.

What bothers me is that some of the co-ops and homeschool mailing lists require member parents to agree to a statement of faith; in my area that’s the Christian faith.

However, there are quite a few homeschoolers in any metro area who aren’t Christian.

That doesn’t mean Christian homeschoolers don’t have a great deal in common with them.

Most homeschool parents want to give their kids a quality education.

Most have moral standards they live by, such as the Golden Rule.

Most homeschool parents have talent, skills, creativity and energy (well, some energy) to offer the group.

Most people want to experience community.

When you homeschool it’s nice to have a place where your children can learn some new subjects, be part of a group, meet some new friends, and be part of a broader community.

But you can’t really do that if the door is shut in your face up front.

For some online homeschool mailing lists signing a statement of faith is required to be on the list, receive email, and post to the group.  This is viewed as necessary in order to avoid list members getting into doctrinal arguments.  But it seems to me that variable could be avoided by simply stating that discussions of theology should stay off list.  If any person broke that simple rule she could be removed from the list.  Other online groups work in a similar way, for example if flaming occurs.

Possibly more to the point would be a code of conduct which could be effective online and definitely in a co-op.  If the expectations of how the group would work and how the people in the group would treat each other were published up front, everyone would know how the group would operate.  The Golden Rule, conflict resolution, co-op goals, what elements of faith (if any) could be discussed, what the master plan is–all of these could be laid out.

Utilizing a code of conduct would allow people from different backgrounds to come together for a mutual purpose.  You’d know what you were signing up for and how you would be expected to behave, but you wouldn’t have to give assent to a set of religious beliefs that might not be yours.

If you can’t ethically sign a statement saying you adhere to a faith, but all you want is to find a good, active co-op for you and your children to be part of…where does that leave you?

On the outside.

Talk about missed opportunities.   It’s a loss to all parties.

Posted December 22, 2015 by swanatbagend in community, homeschooling, the church

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Emmanuel   Leave a comment

Did you know that this “God with us” thing is covered in the book of Exodus?  I didn’t until recently.  I figured that all started when Isaiah was mentioning it in his prophecies, but it predates that.

Of course there are many passages of Scripture that show and tell us about God’s holiness and his “otherness.”  But to be fair, there are plenty of passages that emphasize his “with-us-ness.”

I had completely forgotten or never knew the significance of the tabernacle.

The tent of God was with the people in the camp, not far away or on the highest mountain they could find.  I’m thinking that’s a contrast to Mount Olympus, where the Greeks thought the gods lived.

The tent of God was portable.  It would fold down and pack up to move with the people when they needed to move or he wanted them to move.  In other words, he wasn’t going to stay in a certain land.  They didn’t have to worry about getting left behind or him leaving them behind.  He went with them.

The tent of God was furnished (and I find this very cool) with some items that were similar to what would be found in a home of the time.  The storage chest, the table, the lampstand or candle holder–all of these would be used by ordinary people.  Of course the items made for God were anything but ordinary in workmanship and appearance, but apparently they were the type of items any person would use on a regular basis.

This kind of tickled me.  I thought if updated to our modern age, God would have a smart, sporty, yet energy efficient RV.  There’d be a comfortable couch and chair in it.  And all night every night, just like the candles in the lampstand that never went out, you’d see the glow of God’s laptop or tablet inside the screen door.  He’d be showing you he’s always there and he’s always awake.

I guess I got started with that after I learned what it meant that the candles were always lit.

I had always thought of candles burning twenty-four hours a day as representing God’s eternality and I suppose in a way they do.  But more to the point of Emmanuel, they show that God is always at home.  He’s never away on business.  He’s never forgotten us.

And he’s shown us this in every way possible from a long way back.


~~thanks to Lisle Drury for starting my thinking on this


Posted December 21, 2015 by swanatbagend in reflections, the church

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Love   Leave a comment

I thought that Love meant always liking the beloved.

Yes, falling in love, adoring our children, or laughing with good friends–all of these things are glorious.  All of these states of being bring pleasure and joy and take us out of ourselves to where we are more–we are part of something bigger than ourselves.  But the sensations of pleasure that these wonderful times bring us are fleeting.  By definition they and we are finite.

However, these times of intimacy and joy are so delightful that we wish to remain in them permanently.  Our culture teaches us that love or being in love is the only reality to seek for; we demand that we stay in that frame of mind and body permanently.

What happens when the beloved is no longer pleasing?  What if his needs are downright demanding?

Before I had children, my parents had done such a dedicated job of raising me that it never even crossed my mind there may have been times they did not want to take care of me when I had a problem.  So I was unprepared for the mental dissonance caused by my lack of desire to take care of my baby when it was inconvenient for me.

All lights out, except the night-light in the hall.  No noise except an occasional random bark from the dog, and the far-off roar of the interstate highway.  There is the peaceful snore of the husband, but the most pressing sound is the wail of an infant.

Imagine my shock when I found I did not experience an overwhelming rush of happiness that caused me to leap joyfully out of bed to care for him.

Before I was actually in the situation, I really thought I would want to.

And I didn’t.  I had absolutely no interest in getting up at two o’clock in the morning and fixing the wet or hungry problem of my child.  I just wanted to get back to sleep.

I thought that Love meant always liking the beloved.

I learned then I did not have it in me to like the beloved at two o’clock in the morning.

But I also learned that is not what Love is.




Posted December 17, 2015 by swanatbagend in parenting, reflections

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I don’t know how it happened   Leave a comment

But–I. Am. So. Blessed.

At night when he is ready for bed and has been read to by his dad, my going-on-12-year-old son comes into my daughter’s room and tells her goodnight.  They touch noses by way of friendly greeting.

Sure, he only remembers to knock first intermittently but he’s trying–and that he wants to come in and touch base with everyone in the family before he goes to bed is worth celebrating.

I’m usually there with my daughter talking before I say goodnight to her, and so we both get the benefit of his usually cheerful goodnight.

I don’t remember doing this with my brother.

My mother usually tucked me in at that age; I also have many memories of moments spent together at bedtime with my father when I was little.  But I don’t think I have any memories at all of saying good night to my brother.  I guess we were too inclined to get on each other’s nerves throughout the day to have any wish to wrap the day’s annoyance up with a friendly greeting.  I regret that.

So I am grateful for children who do more than tolerate each other most of the time.  Makes it incredibly pleasant to get to the end of the day and go off to sleep in harmony.


Posted December 12, 2015 by swanatbagend in gratitude

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