Archive for September 2011

Jury Duty

September 30, 2011

Two weeks ago, I came home from a baby shower to find a summons in the day’s mail.  Jury duty summons.  For me.

First reaction?  Who me?  Lord, what on earth do I do with this?  After staring at it for a minute, flipping it over a couple of times, I slowly opened it.  Sure enough, I was summoned for the week of September 26th, which you will notice is this very week.

At first I was inclined to hope that I wouldn’t get called in.  My number was high enough to make me think it likely I would not have to even go to the courthouse.  My dad got a summons a year or two ago, and he called every night and never had to go in.  Perhaps I would be the same.

A friend told me that he’d gone in one of the days and answered questions but wasn’t seated on the jury.  My parents and I traded a few jokes about what kinds of things I could say that would make them send me home in a hurry.  I’m a homeschooler.  (i.e. — radical or weird)  I’m squeamish enough to faint on the stand if the case involves any blood and guts. (quite true in my case, although I’m guessing they wouldn’t take my word for it)

Then, of course, there was always the chance I would get seated.  My summons was as a trial jury, so of course if I got seated I’d be serving as long as it took to decide the case.  My grandmother has served on several juries in her lifetime (she has nearly reached her fourscore years, and I’m excited for her), so of course she told me a bit about that.

Another friend had been called for Grand Jury duty, and had enjoyed the experience, so she encouraged me that it wouldn’t be so bad.  Granted, for a grand jury, you only have to say whether there’s enough evidence for a trial, not whether someone is guilty or not.  Much less at stake.

In the midst of all this, I realized that my first thoughts were about the likelihood that I would not have to serve and ways to get out of serving if I got called in.  Wait a minute!  How on earth would the justice system work if everyone thought like that?  Most of the people I’ve heard talk about jury duty spoke of it as an annoyance.  And it’s true, serving on a jury might come at a bad time for your business or personal life.

But put yourself on the other side.  You’re the defendant.  You want a fair trial from your peers.  How would you feel if you knew that every last one of them just wanted to get out of there quickly and therefore wasn’t really paying attention to the evidence all that closely.  Suppose you’re innocent even though the evidence looks pretty bad.

Or maybe you’re one of the attorneys.  Say the prosecution.  And the defendant is charming or darling and the bored disgruntled jury is inclined to let him or her off despite your clear evidence of guilt.

Jury duty is not something to be taken lightly or shirked.  Whether we like it or not, jury duty is one of the things that helps keep America democratic.  It’s the people’s voice on justice.  Would we prefer to leave everything up to authoritarian judges?  Yes, it can be very inconvenient.  Yes, it’s annoying to have it be mandatory (but would anyone do it if it weren’t? and where would we be then?).  Yes, I wish that there were no criminals or that the police would always get things right so that we wouldn’t need trials.  But since we live in a world of fallible humans, the jury system is about as good a system as we’re going to get.  If you don’t like it, design a better one and pitch it to congress.

Oh, so I was about to end this and post it, and then it dawned on me.  I never told you what actually happened this week!  Not much, really.  They called in the first 157 jurors Monday and Tuesday, and then no one else all week.  Since my number was in the 300’s, I never had to appear.  But at least I’m now less inclined to shirk if it ever happens again!

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The Little Beggarman

September 28, 2011

I sang with my local homeschool choir for a semester during my sophomore year of highschool, and one of the songs we did was called “The Little Beggarman.”  It’s a fun Irish song, and we had a blast singing it.  But we didn’t sing it nearly as well as these guys . . .

About the Nice Guys

September 26, 2011

My brain goes on some pretty funny tangents sometimes.  For instance, the other day I was remembering a passing comment said by a friend some time ago.  The friend and his wife had been fellowshiping with my family, and toward the end of our conversation, something was said about a young man in our church.  The friend made the passing comment that the young man was “a nice guy.”

Now, if I hadn’t already had a couple of comments thrown in my direction hinting that this “nice guy” and I would make a good couple (as if the speakers really had any clue what they were talking about), I might not have noticed.  In all likelihood, the friend had no such meaning in mind when he said it.  Nothing was said in direct response by anyone in my family.  But it kind of felt to me like the comment was made for my benefit.

That’s not the first time I’ve heard the words “nice guy” nor will it be the last.  When I hear that phrase, however, I can’t help thinking how shallow it is.

Especially within the church, any guy can be a nice guy.  Think about it.  How would you define a nice guy?  Somebody who is polite, opens doors, and generally wears a smile.  Depending on the particular nice guy, he might add one or two other traits to the list, like good looks, teaching Sunday School, or a good job.  But all of these things are pretty superficial.   What about this list makes a guy good husband material?

Okay, so you have to start somewhere, but seriously, I want to know why the well-meaning sisters in our churches use these words when hinting about someone they think we ought to consider.  I think I have a pretty good idea of why, actually.  Two reasons.  In some cases, it is probably because there isn’t that much more to the guy than that he is “nice.”  Why that might be is a whole different can of worms which I am not going to open.  In other cases, I think they use the phrase “nice guy” because their own relationship with the guy is so superficial that “nice” is all they know about him.

What do we girls do about it?  Well, I generally just smile tolerantly and move to the next topic.  People get the idea.  I’m not interested in talking about “nice guys.”  But sometimes I wonder if there isn’t a way to encourage people to spend more time getting to know a guy before they recommend him as nice (enough to marry).  Then they could use stronger words to describe him that would be more likely to catch a girl’s attention (or not).

Does this happen to guys too?  Do they get pushed toward the “nice girls”?  Sure.  My brother has seen a little of it (some from the same ladies I’ve been dealing with), although with him it has been easier because he’s away at college and because people give guys a break longer because it’s generally expected that they should have a job before they get married.  Granted they may expect a guy to have a girlfriend before that, but it doesn’t seem to be a major cause of concern to them if he doesn’t.

I don’t think the “nice girl” label is any deeper than the “nice guy” label.  A nice girl is polite (meaning doesn’t talk your ear off), pleasant, usually pretty, and generally has either brains, artistic talent, housekeeping skills, or a love of children to recommend her.  Now, this description gives the guys a little more to work with, in my opinion, but still doesn’t really indicate whether the girl is really good wife material and completely ignores the compatibility question.  I suppose because the guys are supposed to go find that out.  But don’t you think that young people are perfectly capable of going and finding that out without the distracting hints?

How about the other side to this “nice guy” “nice girl” issue.

Are you one of them?  Do the people who know you know enough to give you a good recommendation?  This one is a tougher one to assess because we don’t generally hear how others describe us.  Still, we should be aware enough of ourselves to know whether we have a distinct purpose and mission in life that is visible to other people.  We will know if we are genuinely caring about other people enough to get involved in their lives beyond carrying a few bags for them when they need a hand or pitching in to help with refreshments for an event.

I’ve also found that it pays to look beyond the “nice guy” label and find out for myself what someone is like.  Just because someone else’s relationship with a guy is so superficial that they are reduced to “nice-ing” them doesn’t mean that mine has to be.  At the same time, it pays to be realistic.  Not every nice guy has interests or goals that are similar to mine (or yours).  And maybe I also don’t need to be more than “a nice girl” to some people who don’t share my particular frame of reference and aren’t likely to understand why I’m uninterested in chasing guys, however nice they may be.

Just some thoughts.  Like I said, sometimes my brain goes off on tangents . . .

Steady Pace

September 24, 2011

Mark @ If Only Music wrote this in his introduction to a song he wrote that spoke to me today.

In the past few months, God has been dealing with my heart. He has shown me how anxious I am, how little trust I have in Him. I find myself staying awake at night, asking questions about my future.  …  read the rest at “If Only Music.”

James 4 – A Test

September 19, 2011

1 From whence come wars and lightnings among you?  Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?

2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.

3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?  Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

5 Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?

6 But he giveth more grace.  Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.

7 Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.  Cleanse your hands, ye sinners: and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.

10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

11 Speak not evil one of another, brethren.  He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.

12 There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?

13 Go to now, ye that say, today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:

14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow.  For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

15 For that ye ought to say, if the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.

16 But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.

17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

Strong words from James.  I decided to post the whole chapter, even though the verses that stuck out to me were 7 and 8, partly because there’s a “therefore” in the middle of them and you need the background to fully comprehend, and partly because there might be other people who need to hear different verses from this chapter.

James wrote us a book of tests, as I learned when my father taught it several years ago, but he tucks comforting nuggets in the middle of those tests too.  He’s a no nonsense kind of guy, but I like that.  He’s just telling it like it is.  And we can’t measure up on our own.  I rather think the key is hidden in verse 8, where he bids us draw nigh to God.  When we do that, He draws near to us, and in that process, we become more like Him.  And only He could ever stand up to these tests.

The Closet

September 15, 2011

Do you sometimes feel as if every time you try to change yourself, you discover more that needs changing or fixing?  Maybe you should consider coming out of The Closet.  Seriously.  Rachel Starr Thompson has painted a striking picture in her poem, and I recommend some deep thought after you read it!

10 Years Later

September 11, 2011

I know.  Everybody and their little brother is going to be blogging about this today.  Often I would avoid adding to the cacophany of voices all saying the same things.  In this case, I have avoided the topic for long enough.

Ten years ago, I was twelve.  A seventh-grader, I’d been wearing braces for about nine months.  One fateful Tuesday morning, I was working on my Latin, trying to finish it up before we had to leave for an appointment with my orthodontist.  My memory is a little shaky on whether I completed the assignment or took it with me, but I do remember that as I walked out of our schoolroom/office, my mother was turning off the television.  The last image I saw was of a building being enveloped in an orange and grey cloud.

I figured it was some commercial, or maybe one of the action movies I’d seen promos for occasionally.  In any case, I didn’t think much of it.

At the orthodontists, they had the radio on.  Normally the station would have been playing music, but they had interrupted that to give breaking news.  I did not pay much attention, being much more interested in what was going on in my mouth than in anything going on at something called the “World Trade Center.”   I didn’t even know where that was.

Mom, of course, understood the import of what was coming over the radio.  So did the other adults in the office.  Still, I remained barely cognizant of it until later, when I saw a full broadcast.  That was when I recognized the footage I had seen before my appointment.  I had seen the shots of one of the hijacked planes hitting a tower.

As a twelve year old, I was shocked and a little scared, but normalcy returned fairly quickly.  Granted, I saw several pieces on TV later which dealt with the survivors and the families of those who died that day.  But I could not let myself be dragged down by it.   It would have been very easy for me to be overwhelmed by the things I was hearing, besides being fighting mad at the people who had attacked my country.  But I did not lose anyone I personally knew, although I have since met people who did, so the loss for me was more academic than personal.

Where do I stand, Ten years later?

I don’t have braces now, for one thing!  Seriously, though, I’m much more aware of the threats to our nation today than I was ten years ago.  Of course, that comes with being 22 instead of 12, but I also understand much more of the tireless efforts of our protectors to keep us safe.  And I still have confidence in the One who holds the whole world in His hands.

What does 9/11 mean to me, as a Christian?  It’s a dramatic reminder that we do not know the hour or the day when we will be called to give an account to God for our lives.  The people who died went to work that day just like any other.  They weren’t expecting anything out of the ordinary.  That can happen to anyone, not just those who live or work in potential terrorism targets.  The other day on my way to and from work, I passed two fender-benders, both of which appeared to have occurred only moments before, and an ambulance.  People die every day from car accidents (the two I saw were minor).  Tragedies happen in workplaces.  People are murdered for whatever reason.  Our lives are fragile.

This being the case, 9/11 reminds me that I need to live each day as if it was someone else’s last.  My witness could be important to their future.  As for me, I know where I’m going.  Heaven isn’t just a someday for me.  I’m enjoying fellowship with my Lord here and now.  But I am looking forward to the day when I will see my God face to face.

It’s sobering to look back ten years and think how far we’ve come.  It’s sobering to look ahead ten years and think how far we have to go.  But in the words of a song by Jim Cowan, “when it’s all been said and done, there is just one thing that matters.”  Here’s Robin Mark singing it.


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