August 20, 2012

What Works vs. Expert Training

Posted in Biblical Prophecy tagged , , , , , at 5:49 am by Mo Dardinger

Lionel Logue was the speech therapist who helped King George VI of Great Britain with his stammer. Mr. Logue developed his system of treatment without having been formally trained.

Marva Collins taught students in the ghetto. Those students consistently excelled over other children their age, and they exhibited a healthy love of learning and a willingness to work hard. Marva developed her method of teaching without formal training.

Vivien Thomas was a carpenter by trade. He signed on as a laboratory technician for a ground-breaking medical researcher, eventually running the whole lab. He assisted in the discovery of the cure for shock. Together, he and Alfred Blalock developed a surgical repair for Tetralogy of Fallot, one cause for “blue babies,” which leads to early death for otherwise healthy children. Their operation (and the surgical instruments Vivien created which made it possible) saved many lives. It also opened up the field of heart surgery. Vivien never attended college or medical school, but he ended up training surgeons at Johns Hopkins. They were the surgeons who went on to be the best in the country.

The doctors I listen to about the connection between diet and health did attend medical school. But they found their training flawed, inadequate. So they now treat and teach based on scientific research and what works for their patients in the real world rather than on what medical school encouraged them to believe.

What actually works in the real world often differs from what we have been led to believe by our theories and by the “experts.” I’ve found this to be true in my study of biblical prophecy, too.

July 21, 2012

In Memory of Betsy

Posted in Friends, Uncategorized tagged , , , at 3:11 pm by Mo Dardinger

Her birthday would have been in about 6 weeks. But we never shared birthday celebrations. We shared Thanksgiving Day once, before her sister moved to town.

We both liked to think and to talk about spiritual topics. We didn’t talk much to one another about them, though. She’d share a video from time to time or tell us what she’d heard taught at the latest prayer conference. But we didn’t discuss and debate our differences. I wish we had. Not that being right matters. It’s the truth that matters. It matters desperately.

She came to my classes — our classes, the ones that Dave and I co-taught. She supported me in my fledgling efforts at teaching, at making the difference I’m called to make.

She made a difference. She prayed and taught others to pray. She worked to see our congregation make a positive impact at home and around the world. She will have our prayer room named after her, a fitting tribute.

I miss you, my friend. And I look forward to seeing you again. Someday. Selfishly, I hope not soon. But when I have finished my course, as you have already (so young) finished yours.

November 19, 2011

Is God Good? Is God Angry? part 1

Posted in Reading List, Spiritual Life tagged , , , at 10:58 am by Mo Dardinger

When someone who claims to know God well misrepresents Him, it’s annoying. Just as if he were misrepresenting your best friend or your beloved husband. It makes you want to chuck his book out the window rather than read on.

At my small group, we are now studying The Good and Beautiful God by James Bryan Smith, ©2009. This week we’re reading Chapter 2, “God Is Good.” If we hadn’t studied it before, I would at this point think the author had some serious problems with understanding both God and the Bible. And I’d likely quit reading it and turn to reading a different, more profitable book.

Since I’m still a bit under the weather, I’m going to just do the easy thing here and go through the chapter in the order it was written to discuss the difficulties that I find in it. If this gets to be too long, then it will become a series of posts rather than one humongous blogpost.

The author and his wife experienced great sadness when they learned that their second child, a girl, would probably die at birth. He says, “During that time both my wife and I felt as if we had been kicked in the stomach — repeatedly.” A perfectly understandable reaction to a situation that no one would have wished on them.

Then along comes this fellow — a pastor, the author claims, though this is scarcely believable — who takes him out to lunch. He makes a truly vile, thoroughly unchristian assertion: either Jim or his wife must have sinned or their daughter would not have a chromosomal disorder. And the author entertained this thought! For a while, James Bryan Smith actually listened to this “pastor.” Scripture does not back up this claim. Science does not back up this claim. It is made of whole cloth.

The little girl lived for two years. There were other believers who said odd things, too, during that time and after her death. I suspect that we all can relate to how hard it is to find something positive or uplifting to say to grieving parents. Sometimes it’s best to say nothing at all.

The statements that wounded Jim and his wife were these:

  • It’s okay, honey, you can have another child.
  • Sometimes children are too beautiful for this earth.
  • I guess God just wanted her in heaven more than he wanted her here.
  • Well, I am sure the Lord had a reason for this.

The reasons that the first statement could be wounding or offensive seem obvious. The second and third are marginal. But the reason anyone would take offense at the fourth statement is obscure. In fact, later on in the chapter, the author himself makes the fourth claim (just as an expanded version of the thought).

Is this not the very same thing? James Bryan Smith imagines an ideal pastor saying to him, “One day you will fully understand why God allowed your daughter to be born with a birth defect and why she died young, and I believe that when you understand why, you will see that God was not only just, but good.” In other words, “Well, I am sure the Lord had a reason for this.” He is in charge, He is good, and He knows exactly what He’s doing. Exactly, down to the last detail.

The rest of Chapter 2, which largely discusses whether God is angry, will wait for a later post. This is enough to cover for now. God is, indeed, good, though His goodness and His overall purpose for what He allows or causes is often veiled.

September 23, 2011

My Husband, My Hero

Posted in Family Life tagged , , at 7:54 pm by Mo Dardinger

We met online. He appealed to me by being a churchgoer and an elder at his congregation. He lived on a farm, which sounded wonderful, but I didn’t end up living there.

He is someone I admire. He is forthright. He has a good sense of humor. He loves me.

He knows how to exercise self-discipline in what he eats and drinks, and how to learn from those who have genuine facts to present. As a result, he has lost tons of weight and is becoming healthier.

He donates to good causes cheerfully. He keeps our household running. He cooks delicious and healthful meals every day.

He leads or follows as the situation demands. He cares.

This is my mate.

Happy anniversary to the wonderful man I married. Whatever would I do without you, my dear one?

May 1, 2011

The Lights, the Cameras, the Conference

Posted in Personal Growth, Toastmasters tagged , , at 1:31 pm by Mo Dardinger

This weekend my husband and I attended our first Toastmasters conference. There were bright lights at this conference. There were cameras at this conference. There was action at this conference, and there will be actions taken in response to this conference — “ripples,” as one of the speakers termed them.

The Lights:

  • Stellar performances in the two speech contests. My personal favorites were the fictional story of the waffle and the true story of a 17-year-old young man at the crossroads.
  • Acts of kindness on display.
  • Great appreciation shown for any small service rendered.
  • Keynote speaker Jason Schechterle, the Phoenix police officer badly burned in an auto accident a few years back. What an inspiring story he tells. (Ask me about making coffee.)

The Cameras:
I brought my own, of course. Then I was asked to photograph the Parade of Dignitaries with the official conference camera, which was a blast and also an honor. I’ll be posting the shots from my own camera — at least the highlights — either in an album on Facebook or on Picasa.

The Action:
My take-aways from the conference, the bits that I mean to act upon, are these:

  • A little appreciation goes a long way. Someone I helped out the first afternoon kept singing my praises to the conference leadership, and each of them in turn thanked me. I want to be the sort of Toastmaster, the sort of person, who routinely expresses appreciation for others both to their faces and behind their backs.
  • Networking pays off. It’s easy to learn enough about your friends’ businesses to prove to be a real blessing to them.
  • Help is there for the asking. No one is born a great leader or a great speaker. Many mentors are available in Toastmasters and elsewhere to help you learn, grow, and reach new heights of accomplishment. Just start moving, then be open to suggestions from those who have trodden the path before you.

January 8, 2011

What a Year!

Posted in Community, Travel, Work tagged , , , , , at 10:42 am by Mo Dardinger

The nearly empty shelves of the library near Lima, serving a whole community. My own overstocked bookshelves, serving mostly to collect dust.

The fall this summer that could have killed me. The sorrow this fall that almost did.

Happy, busy Food for the Hungry staff members crowded together, wearing jackets inside in the cold office. Townhouse hallways and rooms at a perfect temperature, spacious rooms, crowded with possessions rather than with people, topsy turvy.

Women whose husbands work far away all day, managing to keep their families going and even make things better for them. My husband nearby all day and taking care of the laundry, the meals, the patio, the vehicles. How blessed they are with courage and resourcefulness. How blessed I am with companionship and prosperity.

The hard-working women who struggle against poverty and disease and often face domestic violence, learning to cope and to thrive. My efforts to put one foot in front of the other and keep going, get more done for work, be a blessing to those I teach, encourage others, start up neighborhood community.

Children dwelling on the steep hillsides. What happens when they are ill or injured? Does anyone there have a stretcher that two adults could carry a child on, down the hill? How far is the nearest doctor?

Dear Maria, eager to tell us more about the communities, about our FH programmes. Our lack of time, the need to hurry back to the technical tasks we mostly went for. So much I’d like to learn from Maria.

The graduation ceremony. The odd sandwiches we were served, dried chicken with minute fries. The sweet, refreshing tea.

Enjoying visits with three sets of friends on four days on our vacation in the Seattle area. Our excitement in seeing one another. Wondering why my happy, chatty girlfriends live so far away.

The school on the hillside. A start. What one begins with when books and desks are hard to come by. The mothers who developed it, so proud, so determined to make a difference, glad to show it off. Trying to see how my job connects to all this and what difference we at the Phoenix office of FH are making.

Sleeping in while the others exercised, trying to get the energy to be useful while sick. A late lunch of chocolate cake and a salty tube of peanuts and raisins, very tasty.

The Lima office on a holiday, deserted, just us geeks doing some last-minute stuff. Hearing the party next door, the first day of Fiestas Patrias. Music, laughter, the things that make life worth living.

Expecting the 400 varieties of potatoes in Peru to be available in all sorts of imaginative dishes. Finding out that Peruvians are just as stupid as Americans in this regard, thinking French fries count as potatoes. Wondering if I’ll ever make it back to continue the spud hunt.

Being watched over on the trip, and at home, and at work by those who want what’s best for me, who want to see me thrive. Feeling very blessed.

Mourning over a closed door, but rejoicing over the opened window now apparent — friendship within a circle of near neighbors. Not many weeks from now perhaps. Closer all the time, as we meet the neighbors, host the parties, pray for the spread of Truth and Mercy into our corner of the world. Trusting in God’s plan. Quite glad that He allows us glimpses of His wonderful plans — and sometimes allows us see just why His answer to our prayers was No.

These are the memories and reflections that jumble together when I think about the year 2010. It’s a mixed bag of hope, joy, sorrow, courage, and fear.

So . . . what was your year like, my blog readers and friends?

September 30, 2010

Enjoy Fine Food!

Posted in Spiritual Life tagged at 9:14 pm by Mo Dardinger

Why pay money for something that will not nourish you?
Why spend your hard-earned money on something that will not satisfy?
Listen carefully to me and eat what is nourishing!
Enjoy fine food!
(Is. 55:2, NET Bible)

My father would have agreed with the first line of this verse. He often said of some purchase my mother or I made, “You can’t eat it.” He valued what could be eaten, as it was necessary for life. Wasteful, excessive, pointless spending was rejected by him. He didn’t have many needs or wants.

What is money for? To pay for our own needs and the needs of those for whom we are responsible, such as our young children or elderly parents.

Should we ever use money for something that we merely want, beyond basic survival? Such as for hosting a party when your daughter gets married or your son earns his doctorate? And for other wants, not just needs? This seems to me to be quite acceptable as well.

The limits on it may be a great deal more strict than we’re used to thinking, but spending on some wants and comforts seems permissible from the evidence we have in Scripture. Let’s enjoy our fine food and the other nourishment that the Lord provides.

August 15, 2010

What I Learned by Cheating

Posted in Fantasy and Science Fiction, Spiritual Life tagged , , , at 3:32 pm by Mo Dardinger

This week I cheated on a commitment that I’d made. Not intentionally, but on accident. Here’s what I learned while cheating:

  • it’s okay to take care of yourself and put your own healing first
  • it’s not okay to live in clutter
  • beauty and organization are high values, ingrained in most of us
  • we can de-clutter and re-organize
  • some folks are much more loused up than the honey-lamb and I are — but without knowing God, would we be there???
  • sometimes ya gotta break the rules
  • it can be okay to distract yourself from pain for a while
  • when you go on a quest for someone, you’re expected to return and report to that someone
  • when you serve well, you are praised and rewarded
  • God still wants me to go on quests for Him, and these will be the best, most important quests

I was alone at home on Thursday evening — bored, lonely, discouraged, looking for some fun. So I flipped on the TV.

Dr. Phil was on with a messed-up woman whose craving for positive attention from men had led her into one adulterous affair after another. She’d had some bad experiences growing up, and a lack of a father in the home. (Which is roughly equivalent to what I experienced — having a father present but “not there.” A lot of us have that problem, and most of us don’t resort to affairs. That attempted solution seems understandable on one level and yet totally unthinkable on another.) At the end, Phil offered to pay for counselling for her to get the psychiatric help it was clear she needed. Her emotional healing needed to happen first. Later, she, her husband, and her latest shack-up honey could decide what was the best way forward for each of them and all of them.

From this I learned it’s okay to take care of yourself and put your own (emotional or physical) healing first. You don’t have to always put the job first, or the friends first. You can be first.

After Phil ended and before my husband arrived home, Dr. Oz started in. He was dealing with a woman who was burying her own home in clutter. It was really sad to see. Dave and I had a clutter problem a few years ago, before his brother Bob and our sister-in-law Dianna came along to get us de-cluttered. Then, when Bob brought out most of Dave’s stamp collection and when we closed down our mini-storage unit, we ended up with clutter in our lovely townhouse again. We need to re-de-clutter. Because, as I learned from watching Oz, it’s not okay to live in clutter. We aren’t doing as poorly with our things as the gal on the TV show was, but we’re beyond my “comfort level” for clutter.

As I reflect on this, I’ve realized that beauty and organization are high values, ingrained in most of us. We need to expend time and energy to press order into our homes and work spaces. We need to invest in beauty and cleanliness. It matters.

I also realized that we can de-clutter and re-organize. I was unable to help out much while I nursed my knees back to health for a month. But now that I’m over that and over my ear infection and cold, I can jump in. (The honey-lamb has been preparing boxes and stacks of clothes for me to sort through. We’re half-way organized already.)

It was entertaining, thought-provoking, and even a bit of a relief to watch the loused-up lives of the adulteress and the hoarder exposed for all to see. One assumes that they were compensated for their appearances, and that they are glad they endured the ordeal both for the money and for the better lives that will follow these appearances. The “relief” part comes from realizing that I’m not doing so badly after all. My loneliness, lack of parenting, and craving for approval hasn’t driven me to adultery. My acquisitiveness, while bad by some standards, hasn’t totally buried our couches in useless junk.

So I learned that some folks are much more loused up than the honey-lamb and I are. Upon reflection, though, we both have had abundant blessings and great opportunities lavished on us. The primary blessing is knowing the Lord God, maker of heaven and earth. We grew up exposed to the Bible, and we are surrounded by genuine Christians. Without knowing God, would we be where these sadly lacking women on TV were?

Friday, the friends I met for lunch discussed a massively multiplayer game that they enjoy playing online, World of Warcraft (WoW). I’d never tried it. But when I was feeling blue that evening, I decided to give it a whirl. There’s a 10-day free trial, and that will encompass two weekends. So I downloaded it, read a little on the basics, and got underway. I invited my husband to join me. That’s when he reminded me of the “ban” on watching TV and playing Internet games. Our community life pastor had preached the previous Sunday, and he’d asked us all to back away from these and other distractions for a month. So that we can spend the time on our relationship with God and on building relationships with our family and our neighbors. I’d totally forgotten. I was cheating! On Sunday morning, I’d thought, “No problem. We already don’t watch TV or play games online.” The honey-lamb really got into the spirit of the thing. He gave up playing FreeCell on his computer and also stopped working cross sums puzzles, which he loves.

Now, I’m generally in favor of obeying any rule around. The Lord indicates that the authorities in our lives deserve our attention and obedience. This time I ignored the rule. Since it’s okay to take care of yourself and put your own healing first, that’s what I did. I figured the distraction of learning this new game (and the consequent lift to my spirits) made it okay to ignored Pastor Mark’s request. Sometimes ya gotta break the rules.

As a long-term solution, I wouldn’t recommend playing a game by yourself rather than interacting with others. But as a one-shot temporary measure it was okay. I learned that it can be okay to distract yourself from pain for a while.

World of Warcraft is a fantasy role-playing game. You set up a character, then take him or her through quests to gain experience. You acquire more armor and weapons. You learn new skills or “skill up.” When you have enough skills and experience, you rise to a higher level or “level up.” The challenges get tougher and the rewards get larger at each level. You have to make sure you’re ready for combat before you Engage! At the end of a successful quest, you and your comrades return to the one who sent you out. He receives what you have collected for him, or the report that you have vanquished his enemies. Then he rewards you.

One thing I learned while playing is that it would take a lot of time to learn to play well. Another is that it would be more fun to play it with your friends or family members, like the guys I had lunch with do. Whether I’ll play it again during the “ban” month is up in the air. Today I feel a lot less blue, and there are tons of real-life connections I need to make with friends, so it’s doubtful.

After completing the quest in WoW, I realized: when you go on a quest for someone, you’re expected to return and report to that someone. Then they evaluate your mission and give you what you deserve. When you serve well, you are praised and rewarded.

Later, something else became clear. I’ve been on several “quests” for my heavenly Father over the years. Such as writing my book, creating my Website, and teaching two classes on the End Times with my dear honey-lamb. I’m called to study the biblical prophecies and share what I learn with others. That “calling” still applies. God still wants me to go on quests for Him, and these will be the best, most important quests — not the quests that other people send me on. I have every confidence that He will thoroughly de-brief me. If I overcome, if my quest is successful, then He will reward me handsomely.

So it is for the honey-lamb, too, and for any other boon companions who join in my “quests.” First, let’s trade some of this useless clutter for a prayer mat. Then let’s skill up, level up, and Engage!

August 7, 2010

Welcome Home

Posted in Community, Spiritual Life tagged , , , at 6:33 pm by Mo Dardinger

Eight days ago I arrived in Houston from Lima, Peru. I stood at the line in Customs and Immigration. When the customs officer was satisfied with my documents and my answers, he told me, “Welcome back.” I mumbled my thanks, then trotted off to collect my baggage. “Welcome back.” It’s a nice way to greet citizens and permanent residents of your country. I wasn’t quite ready to kiss the ground, but I had definitely been looking forward to returning to the US and to my husband and friends. And to the comforts of home — air conditioning in practically every residence, business, and automobile (because we live in the desert southwest); safe water from a tap, not just a bottle; vehicles I can drive, and traffic flow that makes sense; being able to converse with everyone I meet, because they all speak English; my heating pad.

My boss was wrong that the two-day extension for some site-seeing and shopping was a mistake, that I would be ready to come home after just the work portion of the trip. I would have missed out on a lot, on many of my favorite moments of the trip. I was glad to stay the extra days. Sorry that we didn’t get to do more site-seeing, sorry I hadn’t brought more cash and exchanged more dollars for soles.

Why was the official Customs greeting, “Welcome back,” I wondered? Why not “Welcome home”? Probably because a lot of people arriving back in the States will have left loved ones behind in Mexico or Peru or wherever. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, fiances, and fiancees. So a greeting of “Welcome home” might sound discordant, might bring up memories of those left behind. Home, after all, is where the heart is.

I have a different home-coming to prepare for. It will be on a much grander scale than getting to tell a few stories at my small group or in Google Wave or over lunch. My true home awaits me. If I work hard, that is. If I stay true. If I don’t abandon my post under fire. If I remain committed to the Lord through the Great Tribulation or whatever else the enemy throws at me. A big IF. Especially given my history of failure to work hard and to stay joyful.

The home-coming ahead will make all the trials here worth facing. More than worth it. Much more than worth it.

While we were in Peru, we saw a part of the hillside community Nueva Jerusalen II. New Jerusalem with streets of dirt? Floors of bare cement? Tin roofs? That little community on the hill is making the best of what they have, using the materials at hand to build homes and community centers. But the real New Jerusalem will feature streets of pure gold, “like transparent glass.”

More importantly, the souls of those who live there will have been swept clean. No dust, no dirt, no filth of any kind will enter the City.

Our flesh that loves to sin will have been removed. Perfected bodies await us. This place of astounding beauty and exuberant joy will be reserved for the righteous, those made clean by the blood of the Lamb of God, those who do deeds in keeping with their status as saints. The offer is open to all, and some few will accept the offer and render obedience.

Someday — if I do my part while I still can — there will be an ear-splitting cry of, “WELCOME HOME” that reverberates throughout heaven. And it will be for me. For insignificant Mo, who can’t even find a lunch partner most days.

The grandest Being in the Universe is making ready already for my arrival. He will not forget me or fail to care about me. He loves me. He will include me in dances and parties, in feasting, in joyous occasions without number.

Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. (Matt. 10:31-33, ESV)

May the Day of Rejoicing hasten, and yet may I have plenty of time to earn the rewards of the heavenly realm, the rewards that will pay off forever. May I become thoroughly faithful. May I reach the “true home” that my heart so longs for.

July 10, 2010

Opening for a Few Good Friends

Posted in Community tagged , , at 9:29 am by Mo Dardinger

To build true community, to grow really close to others, it helps a lot if you live near one another. Then you can take over meals when they need help. And water their lawns when they’re away. And get to know all of their children’s names. And interact regularly, several times each week. I need this, and I want to make it a high priority — right after my next trip.

You can grow close, I think, in your workplace, too. If you work with others three or more days a week and have lots of interaction. But the evenings and weekends at home and in the neighborhood provide the best chance for real friendship and fellowship. Like Randy Frazee says. So I need to get to know my neighbors and become a “team” with some of them. Just a few families will be enough. It doesn’t have to be ten or twenty. That would be overwhelming. Just a few will do.

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