Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Are they in Heaven now?

Several years ago a non-Christian friend of mine called me, very angry, with some really serious questions.  She had just come home from a funeral of a relative of hers.  Some member of the family had made arrangements for a "Christian" pastor to speak at the relative's funeral. I use quotations there because I don't know who the pastor was, but his message at the funeral left me questioning if the man knew anything about Christianity at all.

She was angry, because she relayed to me how she thought the pastor lied to everyone there.  He repeatedly told the family this man was in Heaven now, in a much better place, with relatives that had preceded him in death, etc. She told me the whole time he was speaking, every time he said such things, the more angry she became and had to bite her tongue. She didn't know a lot about Christianity but she did know enough to believe the only people that actually go to Heaven, are Christians. She went on to tell me about this deceased family member's lifestyle and how he was into this, that, the other, and several other things that are not indicative of a Christian's lifestyle in any way. Despite all this, he was family and he was loved, and she was grieving.  Then she wanted to know some things:

1. Was it possible he was actually a Christian and she didn't know it?
2. Was he actually in Heaven?
3. If not, where was he?
4. If not, why was the pastor lying?

Really loaded questions, especially coming from a grieving family member. I didn't really feel qualified to answer such questions so instead I asked her some questions to let her sort it out for herself.  That may not have been the best approach but I was a new Christian myself and genuinely not studied enough in doctrine and Scripture to feel confident I was giving her the correct, Biblical answers.

I don't remember every question I asked but these are some of them, and her answers:

  • Q: Did he ever talk about Jesus? A: no, unless he was using his name as a cuss word.
  • Q: Did he ever talk about the Bible? A: no, never around her, or anyone that she knows.
  • Q: Did he ever read the Bible? A: no, not that she ever saw. She wasn't even sure if she'd ever seen a Bible in his house.
  • Q: Did he attend any kind of church? A: no, and never had anything nice to say about church.
  • Q: Did he have any Christian friends? A: no, all his friends were the same kind of person as him, heavy drinkers, men who thought nothing of cheating on their wives or taxes, some of them drug users, etc. 
  • Q: What was the most important thing in his life? A: not sure, all she ever saw him do when he wasn't working, was hang out with friends, drink, and laugh at dirty jokes.
After I asked her those questions, then I asked her if she thought her relative was a Christian and she said no. Then I asked, if she didn't think he was a Christian, where does she think he is now?  She replied, questioning "hell?".  I said yes, he has entered into eternity not knowing Jesus as his savior, and will answer to God for his own sins, instead of trusting in Jesus' payment on the cross to atone for those sins. Then she briefly cussed and swore as she talked about the pastor at the funeral and how much she hated that he told the grieving family that he was in a better place, seeing grandma, etc. Then, she wanted to know why a Christian pastor would lie like that, instead of telling the family the truth.

I had no answer for her.  I told her I honestly don't know why he'd say that.  I offered some possible reasons such as a.) he wasn't actually a Bible believing Christian in the first place and didn't understand the gospel, or b.) he is a Christian but he couldn't bring himself to tell the family that this man will face God's holy wrath and pay for his own sins (because frankly, that would probably be the hardest thing ever to say to a grieving family).  I can't even imagine being a pastor and being called to give a funeral service for someone who lived their life rejecting Christ's forgiveness.

I thought of this conversation I had with my friend years ago, after noticing time and time again when someone "famous" dies, despite how they lived their life here on earth, everyone and their dog is all over social media talking about how he or she is in Heaven now. Just like the pastor told my friend's family.  

Understandably, a lot of people believe good works or being a "good person" get you there once you leave here, but that's not what the Bible says.  While doing good for others and being a kind, loyal friend is to be commended, it's not what gets us to Heaven.  Believing in the person and the work (who He is and what He did for us) of Jesus Christ is the only way we enter into Glory once we leave this world.

Entering eternity without knowing the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, means you have no advocate in front of a just, holy, righteous God.  It means you, and you alone with answer for your sins.  Every thought, every word, every deed that broke God's law.  Every single one of them.  No matter how good or kind or loyal anyone ever was while living this life, once it's over if we face God without an advocate, God's righteousness justice demands we pay for our own sins by suffering His wrath.

I know this isn't what people want to hear.  They want to reject this because it means... the person they loved is not in Heaven.  The person they currently are, is contrary to what the Bible says we're to be living like.  It also means making a decision many simply do no want to make, and thinking about things on an eternal level, that many do not want to think about.  Except, the time is now to seriously consider such things.  No one is promised another moment, let alone another day or living until old age.

Just some things I felt needed to be said today. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

My Red Cup Can Beat Up Your Red Cup


By now you've almost certainly heard about the Starbucks Red Cup Controversy or at the very least seen the hashtags #redcup #itsjustacup or other variations with the words cup, red, Starbucks and Christmas.  Some have clicked, some have laughed, some don't care and others even thought it was an Onion parody article.  I confess, I actually did think it was parody at first.

Yes, a cup controversy, if you can believe that. If you haven't heard about it, consider yourself blessed. In any case, here's a good explanation of what the kerfuffle is all about.

Here's the interesting thing...

While I am a designer, I'm also a Christian.  What that means is, the vast majority of my social networking feeds have Christians on them.  Christians expressing opinions about pretty much everything under the sun.  Guess how many of my Christian fiends, fellow designers and acquaintances have voiced their pearl-clutching fears about the #redcup? Exactly ZERO.  Yes, you read that correctly: none. In fact, I had to click a few links to see what the big deal was when I first started hearing about it from non-Christians.  I mean, if we (Christians) are supposed to be all woe is me, I figured I needed to know what I was supposed to be woeful over!  So I read and thought... really?  REALLY??  With all that's going on in our world, from social injustice to homelessness, terrorism, crimes against humanity, governmental corruption (shall I go on?), this is the thing a handful of folks have their bloomers in a knot over?

I confess, I don't drink Starbucks, so maybe the reason I never heard about how outraged I was supposed to be was because I'm not in the Christian Starbucks Fan club. It's possible. It's also possible I didn't hear about it first hand from fellow Christians because... it's just stupid, and the folks I associate with don't care about it?  I'm going with the latter.

In any case, I decided to have some fun with it because, well, I LOVE CHRISTMAS! In our family, we celebrate both the birth of Christ (even though we know He wasn't actually born on 12/25) and the combined family traditions of my husband's childhood, my own, and some new ones we've created along the way. I love everything about Christmas: food, family, decorations, lights, exchanging gifts, music, classic movies, designing for a wide variety of Christmas items, etc.  I know a lot of folks have a problem with seeing Christmas displays in retail stores before Halloween is even over but to be honest, when I see the boxes of wrapping paper and stockings and lights, I start to kind of feel like... a little kid at, well, CHRISTMAS!

Frankly, I don't care what Starbucks has or doesn't have on their cups.  Mine are prettier anyway. :) And they'll last for years and years. So if you're in the mood for a pretty RED Christmas cup, see the links above. And have yourself a very, Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Cussing and Swearing Once Again

Since today is Back to the Future I figured it's a timely day to get into my little blogging time machine and revisit a topic I've posted about before: swearing.

I hate swearing.  I hate hearing people swear. I hate when I swear myself (yep, sometimes it still happens) and I have wracked my brain for the last 21 years trying to pin down why it bothers me so much. Everyone that knows me, already knows all this.

Over the years I've had countless conversations with all sorts of people on both sides of the believer fence about this subject.  We've had the 

  • "out of the heart the mouth speaks" conversations
  • fresh water/bitter water/same well conversations
  • exploring why words are offensive, who makes them offensive (the speaker or the hearer) and why they are offensive
  • discussions about the psychological and emotional affect to both the speaker of the words and the hearer of the words (and why some even believe it's beneficial to swear)
And probably more conversations with other angles I can't even remember.  One of the things I've always found odd about such conversations is that some people go out of their way to justify why it's not only okay, but good.  To cuss or swear. I find that odd because one would think if it's good or beneficial there would be no reason to explain why.  Like brushing your teeth, or wearing a coat when it's cold.  It would be obvious and/or common sense to most adults why such things are done, without any explanation needed.

In any event, I observed something a few days ago on social media and then again today, that made me think about this again. What it all comes down to, in the most basic sense, is that the type of words used in cussing and swearing are *intentional words that sound hard and cutting.

All the hard consonants in these words (in the English language anyway) are spoken with the emphasis on those sounds, and in many cases with an intentional exaggerated pronunciation of those sounds.  So these words fly out of the out of the speaker's mouth like little razor blades, shards of broken glass, angry hornets, venomous snakes, jagged rocks and pointy sticks... and fly right into the hearer's ear.  And they hurt, and they're supposed to (that's why they're said the way they're said).  Even when what's being said isn't about you personally, what you're hearing said about (whatever) is designed to be hurtful, bitter, hateful and angry.  It's not as if you're "choosing" to assign offense to these words anymore than you'd be choosing to allow a razor blade to slice you if it made contact with your skin.  It's what the razor blade is designed to do.  Just like these words. (This is usually where the argument is made for "other words" that are equally as cutting, such as calling people stupid, ugly, useless and other such personally insulting things designed to hurt them.  I don't disagree that there are indeed other words designed to hurt, sting and bite.  There is no justification for using those words either.)  I just have absolutely no desire to be a part of a conversation where words like this are used.

I prefer a better conversation.  One where the person speaking digs a little deeper, thinks a little longer, and chooses more carefully the more constructive way to express him or herself. People who do that, take the time to adequately express their anger, disappointment, disgust or whatever it might be, almost always have a more optimistic, hopeful and problem-solving tone to their expression as well.  Such as: "so and so really made me angry today and I really wanted to tell him/her off but instead I did such and such and realized had I said this or that I would have probably regretted it."  These people are thinkers, They're honest about their anger or disappointment but they think about it before mouthing off about it.  The longer they think about it, the more scenarios they play over in their head and they tend to choose a better way. A more constructive way - and one that doesn't cause me to want to guard my ears when they're speaking.  In fact, I want to hear more of what they have to say.  These are also people that tend not to emotionally react to something, but keep their cool in most situations.  I like these people!  They're an awesome example for me because truth be told, I've always been a mouthing-off type of person.  Reacting emotionally and speaking before I think.  Ugh.  Not proud to admit that, but it's the way it is.

I know this is all very long-winded and such, and I don't really sit around and think about this at length (anymore).  It just occurred to me today when listening to something online where the speaker used the F bomb several times, how much more enjoyable what he had to say, would have been. Great points made on a political topic but F this and F that and I got sick of listening. 

When razor blades grow fangs and stingers and attack your ears, it's time to move on.

*Except when those certain folks just start using cuss words in place of everyday words in everyday conversations.  I'm not even sure what to make of that mindset.  They're not trying to sound mean or cruel, they're just using f%*# in place of anything and everything.  It's a little disconcerting.  Like those folks that wear pajama pants everywhere, or start putting ketchup on everything. There are no more boundaries or contextual usage/application.  It's like they've just given up on intelligent conversation once and for all.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Just a Few Thoughts

(you may need to click the image to enlarge & read) ;-) 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Cartoony Stuff

Not too long ago someone asked me a rather odd question.  "Why do you do all that cartoony stuff?"  they asked.  By cartoony stuff, they meant these guys here. 

By "why do you do" they meant create them and use them in various formats such as baby shower, birthday party or seasonal party invitations, t-shirts, binders, dry erase boards, stationery, magnets, coffee mugs, etc. I'm honestly not sure why that question even came up, but I took it to mean that at my age, I suppose it might expected that I'd be "doing" something more grown-up with my time.  As if, "cartoony stuff" was something young people do.  I'm not sure it was meant that way but that's the way it came across.  It kind of bothered me actually so I had to think about it.  Why do I do cartoony stuff?  

Here are some of the reasons in no particular order:

1. I LOVE THEM.  I see things and in my mind I picture them in cartoon format.  Cats, dogs, birds, french fries, pickles... it doesn't matter.  In my mind, everything has a cartoon version.  Well, almost everything.  Bad/creepy things don't have a cartoon version, only fun things.

2. They make me smile.  Once I start a new design for a character I don't stop until the final product looks like the image in my head.  Once I get there, or get close... once the character starts making me smile, that's when I know.  I have some characters I've never even used on anything for commercial sale.  They just live along side the hundreds of others in a special file.  Some day, I might bring them out and share them with the world.

3. They make others smile. These little guys and gals are on thousands of products and I don't even know how many reviews I've read from customers that absolutely love them on whichever product they've purchased.  That makes me smile too!  Knowing I've brought a little fun into someone's world with my designs makes me very, very happy.

That's it.  Those are the only reasons I can come up with and perfectly okay with them. I suppose at some point in my life I'll grow up and stop doing cartoony stuff. But in all honesty, I hope not.  I'll miss them if I do.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Product Review: Yellow Jacket Traps

So, it's that time of year when the yellow jackets go a little nutty. If you enjoy eating outside on a patio, they will automatically assume your food and drink is for them, and 700 of their closest friends.  It makes for a rather unpleasant meal time.

I don't really know why they do this, I just know they do.  For whatever reason, this year they seem to be more obnoxious than usual, and we've been having a rough time with them for the last couple of weeks.

I looked online and there are all sorts of ways you can "upcycle" old pop bottles and such to lure them away from your outdoor dining area but since we don't drink pop, I decided I wasn't going to do one of those crafty things.  So off to the store I went to find some kind of yellow jacket trap that actually worked (I'd never used one, so I wasn't even sure what to get).

What I found were all sorts of traps and devices with all sorts of inserts and "attractant" which all had price tags far higher than I wanted to pay. Then I found this cheap little plastic jar with a plastic lid, and two openings on the side. I think it was 2 dollars or something and since I'm cheap, I bought two of them.  Assuming of course, I should have paid 10 times as much for something that works.  I was happily wrong.

The instructions said to fill half-way with sugar water or pop, then hang away from where people gather.  So, I did that but I used sugar water.  It worked so-so, but not like I wanted it to.  So then I bought a bottle of Sprite and used that.  It worked a little better, but still not as well as I'd hoped. So then, I decided to get some fruit juice (apple juice was on sale for a dollar, so that appealed to my cheap-side) and try that.

Well, I filled them half full of apple juice, moved them over to the fence on the side of the house and OH MY GOODNESS!  Within minutes, yellow jackets were swarming all over both of them and there wasn't a single one on the patio.  I went out again just moments ago to get this picture and there are already numerous little buggers inside them.  Still none on the patio.

Now, we haven't had a meal on the patio yet with the traps out there so I don't know if they're a powerful enough draw to keep the beasties away from the food, but for now, it's working.

So do yourself a favor if you're looking for a solution to getting rid of these pesks, and don't want to spend big money.  Either make your own (google it, there are pics all over how to do it) or get the cheap little jars and fill them with fruit juice.