Sunday, February 22, 2015

Of Lines (pleasant and otherwise), Oscars, Gaga, and Jesus

The contrast is tantalizing; the contrast is evil; the contrast blurs the lines in the most insidious and damning ways.

"The lines have fallen unto me in pleasant places." 

Lines.  The meaning here is clear, I think.  The lines that define our life have turned out to be good -- pleasant rather than burdensome.  And even when lines are not pleasant, this does not indicate bad character.  Reference the ancient story of Job for one example, or that of Jesus, for another.  Unpleasant lines in spite of exemplary character.  Sometimes the lines are not easy but in the end we know that what Satan meant for evil, God meant for good!

What of other lines in life or, as is the case in my mind tonight, in our culture at large?  Lines define, they show the way, they indicate position.  I've finally lived long enough to know that I don't know much, that points of reference change and one's viewpoint and understanding need adjustment.  But without lines of some kind the world loses meaning.  And when the lines are erased what is one to do?

I am speaking in part, of course, of lines that define right and wrong.  Kansas must make a law against dismembering a human fetus, for example.  The human line says this is never even up for question.  Fetuses are for protecting.  But our collective understanding has moved so far that we no longer know something so basic.

But there is another angst that feeds my dismay and that is the buzz I am hearing about some kind of award ceremony.  If anything traces the moving of lines and encourages the same, it is the American movie industry.  And in their awards ceremony tonight, I am told, one Lady Gaga sang some much-loved songs from another era -- songs from the ever-popular "Sound of Music."

This is about symbols as much as anything.  What does "Sound of Music" symbolize for our culture?  Beauty, truth, hope, family, meaning, purpose.  The story speaks of heroism and family love, idealized to be sure but a symbol of good, if nothing else.

What has Lady Gaga purposively tried to symbolize?  In a word, wanton sexuality and the prevalent notion that beauty, truth and good itself are defined by "me" and to be used or abandoned at my disposal.

Should this bother me?  Do I hate Lady Gaga?  Yes, and no.  I do not hate her -- she is a fallen human person like me.  But it bothers me because her performance couples good with evil.  And this is no mistake.  It seems obvious that Lady Gaga was chosen to perform this song, in part, for this very reason.  Her persona typifies everything the song is not about.  The contrast is tantalizing; the contrast is evil; the contrast blurs the lines in the most insidious and damning ways.

Maybe Lady Gaga has had a change of heart and the song is her way of expressing that.  I truly hope so.  But if that were the case there would be no tension, no contrast, no juxtaposition of symbols, and thus, no appeal.

I remember this fallen world and I ask myself what Jesus would have to say.  Would he remind me that judges risk the same judgment meted out on them?  Perhaps. That loving guidance is always right.  Would he talk about specks in the eye and the 'plank' that obscures my own sight?  Maybe.  What else might he say?

He might tell of meeting one who promoted similar symbols in his own day.  When she met Jesus she knew her sin, washed his feet with her tears, and knew his true goodness and love.  Jesus would make a teachable moment out of it to be sure, a time to reflect on what matters.  And so I retreat to a place of sorely needed prayer, knowing again the old song "it's me, it's me, it's me O Lord!" 

There is a place to speak out and our culture needs to hear.  But they need to hear Jesus, for He alone has the words of life.  And in the midst of my sincere dismay, words of life are what I desperately need.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Brief Reflections on Grey via First Things

Not-too-random thoughts on a Friday afternoon....

Our society "...discourages an intelligent conversation about what manhood should require of men,” while at the same time "asking adult males to be men."  This from one Sebastian Junger, quoted in a commentary in First Things on how our skewed understanding of gender results in something like the Grey book and film phenomenon.

Junger's comment sounds earily like these famous lines from C. S. Lewis' prophetic book, Abolition of Man:

     we continue to clamour for those very qualities we are rendering impossible. You can hardly
     open a periodical without coming across the statement that what our civilization needs is
     more ‘drive’, or dynamism, or self-sacrifice, or ‘creativity’. In a sort of ghastly simplicity
     we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them
     virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.
     We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.

The old cliché about nature abhorring a vacuum bears out in sociological and gender understandings.  When we reject the idea of men being men, the void is filled with a false substitute, never better but inverted, even perverted.  Such is the Grey business.  As the First Things author, Joseph Heschmeyer, profoundly suggests, Grey answers the cry for a restored masculinity, but it is remade in a broken fashion.

There may be this one redemption: as the crying need is met with answers that betray and denigrate the human spirit as depicted in Grey, we will abandon genderless notions and embrace this old-because-innate notion: masculinity and femininity are flaming realities intrinsic to humanity, to be embraced and encouraged.  Such a path naturally restores the drive, dynamism, self-sacrifice, and creativity so necessary to avoid abolition and restore meaningful life.

So how do we "meaningfully ask adult males to be men" and help them to do so?  That is a good question for my next post and I look forward to exploring the answer!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A Tribute to Jane's Wonderful Mother

I clearly remember getting up one Sunday morning and there she was dressed so beautiful ready to go to church. It was that Sunday in the main service that I saw my precious mother go forward to receive Jesus as her Savior! I remember seeing her kneeling at the altar crying and not understanding why, and a dear lady, Mrs. Hurt, sat down beside me saying, “Janie do you understand what's going on?” 
She explained to me that mom's tears where tears of sorrow that turned to tears of happiness and joy because of Jesus!

A tribute to my dear mother who went to be with Jesus on this very date, 6 years ago...

She was small in stature --  not much more than 5'0” -- but had a heart bigger than the universe! She was a farmer's daughter from Kentucky with 14 siblings. Her maiden name was Conner, Irish descent so she had a good mix of fight and stubbornness! She never flew on a plane, didn't want to. She never drove a car and only went to school to the 8th grade. In the world's eyes she would appear very simple, uneducated, no titles, no fame, no fortune. But in the eyes of her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren she was a saint representing unconditional love, wisdom – not wisdom from a book but from just living. She was strength, she was an over comer, a force not to reckon with or if you did you would regret it! She knew her mind, could speak it and yet knew when best not to. She was lovely with a beautiful smile and contagious laughter. Sang like a song bird, dancing about, light on her feet. Always doing something, never lazy, working hard. Doing what needed to be done.

For her, life dealt some very hard blows, a lot of pain, a lot of burdens. But if you were to meet her you would have never guessed it. She was an incredible person full of life, love, endurance and persistence. If life was hard you just dealt with it. She had 12 children, 2 passed on. She loved her children deeply. Oh, she had her opinions and her ways of discipline and for many of us children we felt it at the end of a switch or a hand.... much deserved! But we all knew she loved us and was there for us!

I remember one particular time playing all afternoon at a friends house (did not get permission) and of course mother was worried sick. I snuck in the back door and I ran upstairs to my bedroom, thinking I could pretend to fall asleep and not get in trouble, only to find a switch laying on the bed waiting for me. So I took the switch, broke it in two and turned around and there was mom standing in the doorway ...calmly she told me to march right down stairs and go get another one. I thought that's fine I'll get a thin one, it won't hurt. Needless to say that I had a lesson to learn and many more!

There were no strangers to her, she loved people. She had an unusual way of reaching out to others and making them feel loved and important. They walked away feeling special... I remember as child going with her door to door calling for bus ministry, inviting people to church. She always took the time to listen to many who were hurting. She didn't drive a car, but that didn't stop her. We would just walk to a certain street and start at one end and go door-to-door to the other end. She wanted people to come to church and find Jesus!

Mom loved music. She played the guitar and oh how I loved hearing her sing. She had that sweet mix of slight Irish/country/story ballad type. I can see her now strumming the guitar and singing. What a Day that will Be, There is an Unseen Hand, Take My Hand Precious Lord, Some Through the water some through flood, some through the fire but all through the blood, Where the Roses never Fade, Thirty Pieces of Silver . She loved singing in the church was a part of her life. Whenever we would go to Conner reunions you could understand why...lots of music...lots of singing; it's in their blood! She passed that love on to her children! Every one of my brothers play the guitar and a sister plays the piano!

Mom knew how to cook. She could take a few ingredients, work her magic and make something absolutely delicious out of it..She was known for her yeast rolls, her pies, her fried chicken on and on the list goes. She would always have a spread ready for her children to eat no matter what time they got in. Something was always on the stove or in the oven ready to be devoured. At Thanksgiving everyone always wanted her turkey dressing. Even now when I smell certain spices they bring a flood of memories of watching her cook, pouring love into what she made.

Mom loved Jesus! And that was it clear and simple. We were living pretty close to downtown Indy, off of State street when a knock on the door started a chain of events that changed her life. A pastor, a bus ministry and mom agreeing to send me – I must have needed it more then my siblings! -- to a little Nazarene church on Washington St. I remember seeing children riding the bus with their moms or seeing families coming to the church and I would go back home and ask mom to please come with me.. not knowing Jesus was already beginning the work. I clearly remember getting up one Sunday morning and there she was dressed so beautiful ready to go to church. It was that Sunday in the main service that I saw my precious mother go forward to receive Jesus as her Savior! I remember seeing her kneeling at the altar crying and not understanding why, and a dear lady, Mrs. Hurt sat down beside me saying, “Janie do you understand what's going on?” She began to explain to me that mom's tears where tears of sorrow that turned to tears of happiness and joy because of Jesus! My dear mother came to church that day with a broken heart and left totally changed, transformed by the healing hand of Jesus! She loved her Lord and wanted her family and others to know Him. Calling became her mission! If she couldn't go door to door she was on the phone making calls. I think how every Saturday she would call her children. If they were not home that was ok she would call till she got them even if it was very late at night. I'm sure my siblings are smiling remember those calls and some sermons too! We would always be there for her on Mother's day though...10 children, in laws, grandchildren...she was so pleased to see us all there!

Oh how she loved us, full of spunk, vim and vigor. You couldn't hide anything from her! She had a mischievous streak, loved to play pranks. She ran, played, climbed right along with us. She cried with us, laughed with us, prayed untold hours for us. She talked to us, listened to us, always, always loving on us with hugs and kisses. Those small arms and hands of hers wrapped around our lives the greatness of who she was to us...our dear little mother.

And so it was right about now as I am writing this, six years ago that she was taking her last breaths. The doctors were amazed scratching their heads that she lasted as long as she did from the massive strokes. But her children knew she would fight and hang on till she was ready! That's just how she was. I had the privilege of having her in my arms those last moments and singing, Where the roses never fade. All was quiet and peaceful when she took that last step here from us and entered another place to see her Lord!

I miss her today, and know the rest of my dear family does too. We all have many stories, many memories of this sweet little lady who gave us life. How do you put into words a lifetime of treasures, to put it on paper seems so inadequate to what the soul really feels. My soul feels so incredibly blessed by this little woman. So much that to some degree I understand the depth of love for her family. Here I am reminded how the Lord has blessed me with a wonderful loving husband and two precious sons. What a privilege I have in being a mother. What gifts from the Lord Lawrence and Elliot are! My prayer is that I can be to them what mom was to me. My heart is full of thanksgiving and gratitude for this life I have been given. Happy Mother's Day, Mom! I love you!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Ronald Lee is 30!!

It must've been somewhere in the summer after my Senior year of High School when, just like a few years earlier when number six came along, Dad called us in for an announcement: “Your Mother and I are going to be adding another baby to the family. Sometime next Spring number seven will arrive!” And did he ever arrive! On this day those 30 years ago, Ronald Lee Huff joined our family and we've never been the same – a good thing!!

Unfortunately for me I was off to college when he was born but I still remember Mom flying to South Florida from Kansas with an 8-week old boy so she and he could be with me and my older sister for a week or so. It was some kinda hot and the little brother made some kinda noise, but it was all good!

A few years later I was home for a year and was around for Ronnie's birthday-suit trek through the neighborhood and his attempt to climb on the roof at age 3. I still remember how determined he was to get up there and help us on that hot, steep roof. One time he climbed a radio tower up to the eave of the roof. Mom was the only one home with him and had to climb up and retrieve him herself! Even though I was not home a lot during those years, I always remember how huggable and lovable he was as a boy, a lot of fun for the family and all who knew him.

As he grew into elementary school it slowly became just he and older brother Robb at home with Mom and Dad because the rest of us were gone with our own families or college or work. Robb and Ron were close buddies. Then when Ron was nine we all suffered the loss of Dad. After 20 years it still hits you in the gut, and perhaps Ronnie most of all. I still remember Ronnie – nine years old, trying to take it all in, resting in the strengthening presence of family. After the graveside gun salute he was gathering the spent brass cartridges out of the grass. He held out his hand to show me 9 cartridges: “I saved nine of these for the nine years I had with Dad.” This was Ron – thoughtful, tender, missing the biggest man in his life, and knowing enough to always remember.

In the years to come and up through High School we always loved it when he and Robb could visit our home with Mom. He always had a ready smile and laugh, and we loved him so much. Couldn't help ourselves. I remember once after our first son was born and Ronnie was visiting. He went out to ride around with me and he was old enough by then to help me some. He was only eleven so I should have known better, but I found myself pushing him, insisting that he 'get busy'. I didn't let up very well either, mean ol' big brother that I was! And then I noticed that he was just quiet and thoughtful – not doing much. “What are you thinking?” I asked. He took a moment before he replied.  “Life isn't just all work you know," he said. "Just 'cause I want to be out here with you doesn't mean I'm wanting to work all the time.” It was late, cold and he was right -- "wanting to be with me".  There's a life lesson in that.  Maybe a 30-year old guy could think of something more fun to do with his eleven-year old brother than work and more work. Ya think?

And so along the way we have had a great deal of fun. I wish I could remember some of the jokes. They were often nearly unspoken. One time in particular we were in Indiana for Thanksgiving, enjoying a domino game around the table. He would've been about fifteen I guess and we had discovered a very kindred spirit, meeting somewhere in the exquisite world of “Far Side” and “Calvin and Hobbes.” The worst of it was that we could seldom make our remarks without busting into uncontrollable laughter. Before one of us could finish some wise-crack, the other knew where it was going and we would lose it. The rest of the table had no idea how whatever-it-was could be so belly-laugh funny. Maybe we didn't either – it just was, and this is a special connection we have always enjoyed.

Another connection is this sort of crazy love of big-word-talk, for lack of a better description. It goes something like this: Instead of asking “Why did the chicken cross the road?”, Ron might proffer the following: 

     “Should inquisitions propose grammar leading to quest of determining poultry motive in situations  where horseless carriage ambulations must be transversed by said poultry, such determinations shall be disallowed from being sought via annoying query signs beside said routes of transversing.” 

Perfectly clear, right?

My favorite expression of his was when he referred to people as “sentient beings.” It was LOL funny -- after I looked it up to know what it meant.  Soon I shamelessly stole it for my own retorts. Of course mystified onlookers wonder what marbles we have left, but we don't mind. We might even describe said state for you if you like!

So there has been a lot of fun, and some hard times along the way as well. I remember when Ron decided to join the Army. I had the very poignant privilege of taking him to the airport for his departing flight to boot camp. The memory of that trip and his departure is surreal. I wish I could go there again, hug him again and shake his hand, feel the mix of pride and challenge and knowing life can never be the same again. We drove some 60 miles and made small talk. My kid brother had grown up and was going to do something none of us had done. And it was a life step I will never forget.

I am so proud of Ron for joining and serving in the Army. He has been less than enamored with his memories and experiences, not uncommon I am sure. But the love we all feel for him, and the pride and appreciation for his service and sacrifice will always be real in our hearts.

In the last ten years there were times when Ron lived within a few hours drive and 2 or 3 times I was able to meet him for his birthday. Once we met at this cool sub place in Cincinnati. Another time he took me to a new-to-me Mexican place that served huge portions. It was always so very good to get together with him, talk about old times, new times, good times, life. Like always he was funny, thoughtful, articulate. Good times.

Now he is 30 and I can't believe it, but I get to take a few minutes and say something real, something I mean, something like this straight to my much-loved kid brother: “Hey man, I miss you. Wish Kansas and Virginia were not far separated by, you know, roads and mountains and miles and stuff. You OK? Working hard I'm sure – that makes me happy and proud. I love the memories, Ron, and the blessing of a brother like you. I'm thankful for the now and all we can know and love. I believe in a better Tomorrow but am very thankful for all the todays. Let's stay in touch better – ok?  

"That's all for now except to say again, Happy Big 3-0.  I hope you have many, many more and that I get to celebrate some of them with you.  This thousand miles away stuff just doesn't cut it.  Oh and I almost forgot -- I love you, Bro.”


Sunday, March 2, 2014

"Big cattle"

There comes a final day for all of us, an ultimate reckoning.  On that day we may rejoice or tremble in the hat we wear.  On that day I want cattle.

"Big cattle."

I heard this expression on the radio the other day, apparently common in Texas. It speaks to the human condition.

I remembered a tragedy from Olathe, Kansas nearly 32 years ago today.  Mark Manglesdorf, student leader at nearby Mid-America Nazarene College, murdered his lover's husband.  The case went cold for 20 years and then in 2005 or so he was finally convicted and now sits in prison.  He had been the big man on campus.  After graduation he went on to Harvard and became a high level business executive, married with family, respected by those who knew him. He lived all those years with a damning secret in his heart, the guilt of murder.

Big Hat, no cattle. It speaks to the human condition. We know in our bones that we're made for something great, that we are stamped with the very image of God, that we were Created. This speaks to purpose, to meaning, to significance, and yes, to good, loving behavior. This is our Big Hat...and our cattle. We know we have substance, that we matter, that we are born for a reason. We know we have cattle. So we don the Big Hat. But, alas, the cattle die or run away. We find we cannot really own them. We find we are not what we are supposed to be.

This is sin, the tempter bruising the heal of the Deliverer, tricking Adam and Eve. This is Adam betraying his Maker, Cain killing his brother. This is 'no cattle'.

But we keep the Big Hat.

Yes, indeed, the Hat is fake if the cattle are not there. But we want the Hat more than the cattle. We want to look good even when we are not. We act in ways our heart betrays. Big cattle.

This is the human condition and if Jesus does not have an answer for it, then He is a fake. I believe He is real, that He is who He claimed to be, and that He has an answer. So I'm going to leave off musing, read the Gospels, and find some answers.

Why does this matter?  There comes a final day for all of us, an ultimate reckoning. On that day we may rejoice or tremble in the hat we wear. 

On that day I want cattle.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Wisdom Speaks in Proverbs 1


      Wisdom Speaks in Proverbs 1

“I want to be wise.”

The comment could be hubris, a self-serving, puffed-up attitude. It certainly is a high goal.  To want to be wise is a first step to being wise. And so it must be a constant prayer: asking, asking God for wisdom.

I considered this as I read Proverbs 1 this morning. Wisdom is personified here with various expressions:
  • Listen to your parents.
  • Do not follow sinners.
  • I, Wisdom, am calling aloud to you. How long will you ignore me?
  • You will suffer the consequences of ignoring me. I will laugh at you when that happens.
    I will ignore your calls for help when the wheels fall off.
  • Whoever listens will be secure.
Wow, this is strong, especially the 'laughing at your destruction' part. A personified wisdom will eventually mock those who ignore her. It is the way of life, it is the law of the harvest, it is the vengeance of truth when spurned. Wisdom says, “Because you disdained my counsel and would have none of my rebuke I will also laugh at your calamity.”  But it does not have to be so.

What is the thread here? It begins with that most basic of reminders, codified in that Law of laws, the first 'commandment with promise': “Honor your Father and Mother,” or as Wisdom puts it, “Hear the instruction of your father and do not forsake the law of your mother.” It is not hard to see that calamity comes if we ignore this command.

Consider the family strength that is engendered when this law is followed. Parents who follow this command will humbly seek to honor their own parents, and by extension, honor the elderly among them. This honor or respect is intrinsically wise and enables one to actually hear those older and wiser. And if we honor our parents and elders we will practice what we hear from them.

It follows that we will be better parents to our own children. We will strive to live in a way that deserves honor, that would give light and guidance to a child who honors us. And we will teach that child to honor her parents – us! That puts us on our knees, which, in the wise words of my own mother, “is the best place to raise children.”

And so we have Wisdom calling out in Proverbs 1 “Listen to you parents.” That is a foundation of wisdom.

How does this apply for those of us raising our own families? Perhaps our own parents have passed on. Furthermore, it is sadly common in life to have disconnect or resentments, waywardness, unresolved pain. Sometimes parents were abusive or absent. Honor your parents? Huh?

But the call rings out and it applies to all of us. I am blessed with wonderful parents. And while my Dad is gone now, I can still hear his advice. I was headstrong as a young man, thought I was listening, sometimes was, but eventually settled into a quiet, pained, sort of backward resistance. I loved my Dad but I wasn't listening very well – at all.

That changed as God worked on my heart and especially as I had children of my own! And although my Dad has been gone for over 20 years now I know there is wisdom in the frequent question, “How would Dad have handled this? How did he face this very obstacle I face today? What motivated him – what mattered most?” As I ask these questions I see with opening eyes the truth that Wisdom speaks. As I honor my Dad I am able to really hear what he had to say.  The lessons of his life and words are not lost. And as I honor my Dad and Mom, even now when I am 'older', I find I have insight for the task of parenting.  As a happy byproduct, our sons find it easier to honor us and hear what we have to say. That's a law of the harvest as well, and cause for a happier kind of laughing!

Lord, you are the Maker, the Father of us all. You are the Maker of families. We see all the pain and discord in our world – the troubles we have because we do not heed your call to listen to our parents. We've made an enormous mess that will bring calamity on a wide scale because we ignore the truth that parents are to be honored. And so today we pray with the prophet Malachi ringing in our ears, “Lord turn the hearts of children to their fathers, and the hearts of fathers to their children.”

Sunday, December 15, 2013

On Writing and Making a Difference

“I want to be a writer” – variations of such a thought spring from my heart from time to time. What does that mean? There are millions of people that aspire to that. Most of us are like the late Paul Rees who echoed the sentiment of millions when asked if he liked to write: “I like to have written,” he replied. And so it is. We 'want to be a writer' but the first obstacle is the matter of will and competing desires, the orders and rhythms of life precluding what we would like to do if the obstacles were not there.

And the obstacles are certainly real. Family and work commitments cannot be avoided, nor should they be.

But there are ways of life that work against steady output and here we easily fall short. I want to be all in or not at all. The steady plodding that deals with myriad interruptions across months and years – that approach is so hard. Perseverance is required and that commodity is not easily employed.

But other things are required of course. It helps to have something to say. And love matters so much. Not writing about love, but loving to write and loving what you write. This passion energizes the page.

Discipline, that ugly word of order and boundaries and rigor, is essential to a writer. It means schedule and research and just plain ol' sticking with it when inspiration has left the building, which is most days. As my beloved former pastor once reminded me: “Inspiration is 90% perspiration, you know!”

A writer needs time to work the craft, time for reflection and thoughtfulness, time to let ideas be born and start to grow within, time to sit down with pen or keyboard and conform the thoughts into words and sentences.

And then there is that one final requirement: readers.  Readers might pay the bills, of course, and the desire to be published is natural to any writer. And yet I am thinking that the joy of writing is almost its own reward, the most important reader being the author. Can any reader appreciate the finished work as well as the author?  It would seem true that many and varied readers may appreciate it even better and in different ways than the author.

Some of this came to mind as I watched portions of Lord of the Rings tonight. Tolkien labored enormously for years, finally publishing. And then it was several decades before his books became movies that captured hundreds of millions of viewers. He never saw the wild success of his work but he labored on anyway for the love of the endeavor and the amazing, deep-as-life story he was telling.

It occurred to me that he might turn out like a Homer or Augustine, Hobbits and halflings and Mordor part of collective understanding in the year A.D. 4,550. It's a lesson that goes forever far beyond 'wanting to be a writer'. We all yearn to be creative in the way intended by our Maker. It is one of the ways we live out His image in us. And we long for long-term influence.

Which reminds me – most of us will not have large long-term influence with our creative work, at least not in the fine arts. We lack the talent and other necessaries. But we can accomplish long-term influence in the way we do our work, whatever it is. As the amazing Michael Kelly Blanchard says in his song Daniel Downs, “It's not what, but how.” The song is about Danny, a downs-syndrome child from another song who has now grown up. He bags groceries part-time and knows in his bones that it matters most how he does his work.

Does he do it well – his best? And most importantly, how does he treat the people involved? Are they inconvenient, or do they really matter.  Daniel – and all of us – will make our mark most effectively by treating people with love and concern for their well-being. That makes the most long-term impact, impact that outlasts our lives.

So writing is well and good as we keep all of this in mind. It helps us explore life and work and meaning, and it helps us attempt to share such exploration with others in a way that will provoke them -- and us -- to thoughtfulness and meaningful action.  That's my two cents for today.  Modest as it is, I can toss it out and believe it makes an impact for someone somewhere, not just me!