Monday, October 24, 2011

A TENTATIVE EFFORT IN OCTOBER, 2011

Life at the moment

If life were ideal, if my faith and joy were as consistently healthy as they should be, each day I would thank God for allowing me to awake and enjoy a new day. Unfortunately, little stresses preclude me from waking up in a joy-filled stupor every morning. Maybe today is one of those less than joy-filled days. Maybe today doesn’t have to remain such, but maybe it isn’t quite as joyous as it could be. 

I’ve been recuperating from a case of pneumonia so bad it nearly killed me. I’ve been recuperating from coding and being resuscitated in a step-down hospital after having two grand maul seizures from a premature, and unnecessary medication withdrawal because doctors orders either didn’t arrive with me or were displaced. As always, and as we all do, I’ve learned a few things about myself, about others, about human nature, about important things, and less important things, about life, and about friendship simply because I have had the experiences I have had.

Today, my husband and I are frantically, sometimes joyfully, sometimes painfully, always flexibly, running down a path we wouldn’t likely have been traveling if we hadn’t decided to take the more scenic route and not duke it out in a foreclosure fisticuff in these grand and united States of America, and we are  in a state, aren’t we? (< the lower case “u” was what we commonly call “creative license” around here).

Recently a friend of mine at my church (hi Christi!) gave her testimony, in part to remind all of us in the family that none of us are alone, that other people have gone through the same things we have gone through, and that we can lean on others and be leaned on by others. I agree, as a general rule, we can encourage and pull each other through bad times because we’ve all had some of the same experiences.

Sometimes, however, and I don’t say this because I am arrogant and think what my husband I went through is so special no one can understand it, but sometimes we do feel sort of alone, don’t we? Sometimes there simply is not anyone in our immediate church family who can fully relate to or understand our specific circumstances.  They can support, they can encourage, and most importantly they can help us grow in faith by sharing their own faith building experiences with us, but what I guess I am trying to articulate is that sometimes, in the darkest hours of our understanding (or misunderstanding) what if God, maybe, doesn’t want us turning to anyone else but Him, and Him alone?  What if He wants us to fall into His arms and not the arms of a friend? I suspect there will be times like that too, I’ve had them. 

Our church family was an immense help and support to my husband and I throughout the entire experience we had. I can tell you they did everything right in the way they were there for us. Our church family is still a tremendous encouragement to us today. I have confidence and faith that they will always be a tremendous support to us any time we need them because they have well-proven themselves to be faithful to serve and care for their extended family. I think we should be aware, however, that God may use times of seeming darkness to force us to turn from others and recognize from whence our help comes (Psalm 121:1-2).  

It might be bitter but necessary medicine to, in the depths of a Christian’s loneliness and seeming despair, recognize there is but one friend who can truly satisfy every emotional and spiritual need we have, and that friend, of course, is our mediator, Jesus, the risen Savior of the world (John 6:35).

Maybe something I should share about the experience Larry and I suffered, in order to encourage others, is this acknowledgement and acceptance that the One (as Christians) we need the most is God and sometimes only He can give us the complete and compassionate understanding we seek because only He fully knows us as intimately as we yearn to be known. Don’t misunderstand me, either.  I’m not saying Christi was wrong. Christi is exactly right. We are not alone.  We do have each other to support one another. We do have each other to encourage each other. We can reach out to one another and should reach out to one another in love, compassion and care and there will be times when we can completely understand what someone else is going through. I guess something extra I am trying to express is that it’s also true that there may be circumstances others cannot fully and completely understand, but the great news is that you are still not alone and you still do not have to go through any circumstance alone, even if no other person you know has had the same experience because, if you are a Christian, you have the very best friend to lean on ever.  Never forget He is there, even when you cannot speak, He is there, interceding for you (Romans 8:26).

Remember how I mentioned my husband and I are always running "flexibly" on our new life path? That’s true because our means are limited, and it is by the grace of God and a friend that, for today, I have access to write on the internet. That may last a very long time, it may last a month, it may last a day, hey, to be honest, I could no longer have internet access from home this afternoon, and so that’s what I mean about being flexible. I have to be okay with that. I have to enjoy what I have at any given moment and be willing to just shrug my shoulders if it walks out the door this afternoon. In other words, I have to just deal with it. What? Well, okay, that isn’t entirely true. That is only true if I choose to stay where I am and continue to live in these circumstances and do nothing to change these circumstances. It is only true if life is static rather than unfettered.  It is unbelievable the freedom we have if we really cared to grasp it, isn’t it? We only think we have no choice or, at times, no hope because we allow ourselves to believe it is true, not because it is true.  

Anyway, check back here sometime if you want.  Why you’d want to I cannot say, but maybe I’ll be around sometimes this winter when there isn’t so much to do in the garden, and maybe I’ll share some more thoughts and tell you about whatever farm projects Larry and I are in the middle of any given day. No promises mind you.

One of the things I am considering is creating a new Web log more suited to my life today. If I decide to do that at some point I will leave the new link here.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Collective Bargaining "Unit?"

Did a Local Springfield News Paper Article Display an Agenda?

In the Springfield News-Leader article today, "Teachers will vote on contract," first the article reports that Springfield's public school teachers will be voting to approve or reject a contract reached through collective bargaining. The contract will solidify terms and procedures related to wage and benefit increases along with other conditions of employment.

Historically, such an article would have identified the National Education Association (NEA) and the Springfield National Education Association (SNEA) as teachers' unions, but what I observed was that the term "union" was omitted throughout the entire article and not mentioned in any of the sidebar information shared at the News-Leader site. On some occasions in the article, whenever one might have expected to see the word "union," it was replaced by the word "unit" and although the article begins announcing the contract was reached through "collective" bargaining, later, when identified, the "unit" was referred to as simply the "bargaining unit," rather than the collective bargaining unit.

These observations give rise to some questions we should ponder:

Why do you suppose the writer of the article or the editing staff of the News-Leader chose not to identify the National Education Association or the Springfield National Education Association as the unions that they are?

Did the News-Leader writer or editorial staff want to obscure the fact that these are teachers' unions because of recent controversial national union news?

Would such a seemingly careful omission of the term "union" imply whoever is responsible would like to see this action on the part of the SNEA fly under the local radar rather than command any controversial reaction?


Ask yourself those questions, and after you ask them you can judge for yourself whether there is a potential media agenda involved.  I just wanted you to think about it beyond the surface.

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Sunday, April 17, 2011

MO Director of Agriculture Hagler: Springfield is “the Hot-Bed of Garden Activity” for the State of Missouri and this Region

Agri Director Praises Springfield’s Well Fed Neighbor Alliance for Inspirational Vision


Springfield, MO - It seemed odd to see almost no notice on the part of Springfield’s local news media when our State Director of Agriculture, Dr. John Hagler, showed up to honor both local citizens and non-profit success in their own city. However, that pretty much sums up what happened when Dr. Hagler honored Springfield and members of Well Fed Neighbor Alliance (WFNA) Galen Chadwick and Aubree Taylor, among others, at the Midtown School Garden near Cox North on Thursday morning.

Springfield’s 1,000 Garden Project’s creator Chadwick, and Director Aubree Taylor were honored that the name of Missouri’s 10,000 Garden Challenge was inspired by WFNA’s 1,000 Garden Project.

Hagler wanted to kick off Missouri’s 10,000 Garden Challenge at the site of the Midtown School Garden in Springfield because he considers Springfield the State leader of the “grow local” food drive.

“We have a whole staff who has just been dying for the opportunity to sink their hands into the type of initiative that could promote this very important effort all across this state, and when they stood there and heard the story of Ruell and Galen and Melissa and Aubree and all the people, what they’ve done, starting off with their 1,000 Gardens…we made a commitment to each other that we would start working together slowly but surely to take that kernel of seed of an idea and see if we could plant it ourselves for a greater effort across this State and we did that,” Hagler said. He credited Governor Nixon with stepping up to the plate to start the 10,000 Garden Challenge.

The President of WFNA, LTD Ruell Chappell had indicated an interest on the part of the MO Dept. of Agriculture in securing a local food supply and rebuilding a sustainable local economy in a comment at JackeHammer back in September of 2009. Chappell had just attended an Urban Garden Task Force Meeting in Springfield. 

“I will be the first to cheer our city if the right of the people to grow, own and do as they will with their food is upheld!!” Chappell wrote. “This thinking is in line with a new focus that can help secure our local food supply and rebuild a sustainable local economy. Springfield can be the first city in the Nation to go this far! The MO. Dept. of Ag is extremely interested,” he wrote.

Chadwick and Taylor had served on that Urban Garden Task Force Chappell wrote about. So had Director of Springfield Urban Agriculture Coalition (SUAC) Melissa Millsap.  Millsap was instrumental in establishing the Midtown School Garden, along with Project Coordinator Lucy Howell. The school garden is a pilot project intended to be the first of ten school gardens SAC would like to install this year.

Millsap seemed as interested in building sustainable community as she is in a locally sustainable food supply.

“It’s (Midtown School Garden) not just a school garden, it’s a community, and a school garden. That’s the way it needs (to be) in order for sustainability,” Millsap said. 

She said the cafeteria is not currently utilizing the food produced in the school garden, but it is getting into the mouths of the children. The kids are taking some of the fresh produce home with them, and it is making its way into the classroom.  Middle schoolers are even cooking with the vegetables in their home economics classes, Millsap said.

“We’re not trying to push too hard (to get the food into the cafeteria) because I think that once people see how successful this program is, how much the kids enjoy this food, it’s just going to be a natural thing that takes place, and of course we’re supportive of that…. I think time will tell and people will adopt it,” she said.

As Ruell Chappell introduced Dr. Hagler Thursday, he noted the importance of fresh produce in the lives of children.

“The children that we are raising today may not live as long as we do because of obesity and the litany of things that result from that,” Chappell said. “It is important that we grow and we feed our children good food. It produces economic opportunity (and) jobs.”

Millsap identified some of the main partners of the Midtown School Garden as: Cox North, Caring Communities, Drury University, Midtown Neighborhood, the YMCA, and Childhood Obesity Action Group.

For Hagler’s part, if the local media in Springfield is suddenly averse to giving credit to WFNA members, he appeared unaffected by that aversion.

“It is an honor to be here in Springfield which is the hot-bed of garden activity for this state and, in fact, this region,” Dr. Hagler said. “You know Galen, Ruell, Aubree, Melissa and all the Councilmen and school folks that have gathered here today, I can tell you this,” he said,  “I fully expect in one capacity or another to be standing here in a couple of years…and we won’t recognize what we’ve built because it will be that successful.”

Earlier in the morning when Hagler was making his point that everyone is vested in agriculture he had quipped his favorite statistic was that 4 out of 4 people eat.

“Everyone has a stake in agriculture. It is this state’s number 1 economic driver…it is something that each and every child, each and every family, each and every school, each church and each community can set root in, take a part in, and can build the future for tomorrow for our State, our cities and our country,” Hagler said.

If you would like to take the 10,000 Garden Challenge you can register at agrimissouri.com  and enter for a chance to win a $500 gift certificate from Tractor Supply Company

If you would like to view the three part video series of this event, go to wellfedneighbor.com and click on "community activity."

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Disclosure: Jackie Melton is a member of the WFNA and is a caretaker of a Gateway Farm

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Thursday, March 31, 2011

EARS TO HEAR

Chamomile tea
          email
distraction
                  
                              value

At some point

the value stirs its way
toward attention

1975

Harrison, Arkansas

old-timers on green park benches
set upon even greener grass
Small hills of cedar shavings
          nestled
at their feet
Old-timers
          whittling away more than time

Earthquakes-Tsunamis-Tornados
-Hurricanes-Floods-Fires
roads split well in two
causes and clauses and bears, oh my

Pause to look at
Old-timers  

1975

stories among the wood
stories among the shavings

Could you hear?
          Could you stop to hear?

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Single JackeHammer City Council Endorsement

Endorsing a political candidate, especially a Springfield City Council candidate, is an action you will rarely see coming from this particular contributor of JackeHammer, however, unapologetically, I offer my endorsement of Fred B. Ellison for Springfield City Council. 

Fred Ellison, who is running for a general City Council seat (which means every Springfield citizen has an opportunity to cast a vote for him, regardless of the zone in which the citizen lives) is the real deal. He genuinely cares about representing the citizens of Springfield through a true understanding of the facts and details surrounding each item on each agenda of the City of Springfield.  Ellison understands the process, and as a personal friend of Fred's (as disclosure) and as a previous free lance writer who covered the Springfield City Council for almost two years, I can tell you he DOES understand the issues. If you are a Springfield voter who wants a compassionate, listening representative sitting on your City Council, one who can explain the Council process and would take the time to discuss important issues with you, you could do no better than Fred Ellison.

Since I have moved out of the city limits of Springfield I cannot vote for Fred.  I need you!

I would really appreciate your vote for Fred Ellison on April 5.  

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