Thursday, January 15, 2015

Book Review: Losing Our Way


For a thought-provoking look at American society, read Losing Our Way: An Intimate Portrait of a Troubled America. Author Bob Herbert thoroughly researched our state of affairs regarding jobs, war, schools and disasters and points out troubling behind-the-scenes activities that may serve the interests of a few rather than the country.

Herbert faults money-hungry corporate CEOs for diverting money to themselves that should have gone toward decent wages for middle- and lower-class workers. He questions waging a war in which the lives of soldiers are sacrificed or horribly scarred by IEDs, sometimes to win villages where no serious threats exist. And he identifies some who labeled schools inefficient, perhaps for ulterior motives, and set in motion layoffs of staff, elimination of programs and implementation of testing from which the nation has never recovered. According to Herbert, poverty, an issue virtually ignored by the powers that be, is the area that needs to be assessed and addressed as to its impact on education.

As an indication of how we have failed those who serve, Herbert points out the alarming rate of suicides among military personnel and veterans. He also addresses the troubling matter of sexual abuse of women in the military as another area needing attention.

Herbert’s closing “Epilogue: Looking Ahead” begins with this paragraph: “The United States needs to be reimagined. What it has been doing for the past several decades has not worked for the majority of its people. A huge and growing segment of the American population has been left out of full participation in the society as a result of joblessness, underemployment, inadequate education and political and economic inequality.”

This book informed me of matters I’ve wondered about, especially as a former teacher. Whether or not you agree with Herbert’s conclusions, you will be a better informed citizen, more motivated to let your voice be heard, as a result of reading this interesting albeit alarming take on the state of affairs in America.


Monday, January 5, 2015

Looking Back; Looking Ahead

2014-2015


Today I’m reflecting on the highs and lows of the past year:

January – Wrote a letter to Scott on his 12th birthday. With Elizabeth’s letter in November, I have now written to each of my five grandchildren as they turn 12. I simply tell them a bit about my teen struggles and encourage them to walk with God through their youth.

February – Led a women’s retreat with Kim and Janine as Friends of the Heart. I also spoke at my home church, always a privilege. It’s harder, though, to speak to a familiar audience. I feel more reticent about sharing nitty gritty details of my life. Maybe I’m afraid of being judged by those who know me.

March – Seemed to hit a brick wall in my writing. Then I watched Sister Act 2, and in one scene Whoopi Goldberg’s character tells a young girl, “If you wake up in the morning and you can’t think of anything but writing, you’re supposed to be a writer.” I love getting up in the morning and reporting to my computer. Can’t imagine not writing for a day. I think I’m supposed to be a writer.

April – Discovered an eagle cam positioned in Pittsburgh, so I began watching a pair of eagles care for their three newly hatched baby birds. Fascinating. At first the oldest one wanted to dominate the feeding time, and pecked the youngest sibling on the head, knocking him away. Stop that! But eventually they all got fed. Love seeing God’s creation in a fresh new way.

May – More speaking engagements including one to present the book of Ruth from memory at a denominational conference in New Jersey.

June – I learned that my sister Ruth, suffering from dementia, will have to be moved to a facility more suited to her care. That means she will move away from this area. This month we attended the Laurel Festival in Wellsboro and stayed at a B & B. Sitting in a window box watching orioles feed was a highlight of the trip. Also watching my niece Janet and her husband compete in a 10K.

July – Attended a “She Speaks” conference in North Carolina. A great experience, especially since an acquisitions editor encouraged me to pursue my idea of writing a devotional book for seniors.

August – Had three grandchildren here for a week to attend a church day camp. They are now old enough to help themselves; I just have to feed them and play games. I love doing that. Sadly, my sister Ruth passed away this month. The move to a different facility was very hard on her.

September – Began a new Bible study series for the women of our church titled “One in a Million” by Priscilla Shirer. The study reminded me that the goal of life is not to enjoy a carefree ride but to realize that God rides with us—no matter what.

October – The kids came home to celebrate Bill’s birthday. What a joy to have our whole family together.

November – A senior center friend saw 10 bear in two days on a mountain near our town. And one was spotted quite near our house.

December – Each year two couples and Bill and I celebrate our anniversaries together because we all married in 1961. This year we met at the one couple’s home in Allentown and celebrated with dinner at the Bethlehem Hotel. The next day we visited Christkindlmarkt and I started my Christmas shopping. A very special time.

So what do I learn by looking back? Life is made up of special moments, both happy and sad. And God uses all of them to mold our character and draw us to himself. May you too be blessed as you reflect on 2014 and look forward to walking with God in 2015.

Shirley

Upcoming Engagements: 

January 17, 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. – Women’s Retreat at Reigles Bible Fellowship, Millersburg.