Monday, April 30, 2007

Moron Alert?

If there is a way to cover a wide variety of current topics affecting individual Christians, and the Christian church at large, Neil Shay figured out how to address it all in one fell swoop:

"Hijacked. By morons."

In his post he describes a ridiculous anti-global warming slogan called Flick Off, being aimed at teenagers and endorsed by the Ontario government. In the article linked we read this:

"Flick Off promoters say the campaign is a hip, edgy way of getting the environmental message through to teenagers."

I couldn't help but read that this way:

"EC promoters say the movement is a hip, edgy way of getting the gospel message through to the unchurched."

It's exactly the same message. Exactly.

So in one very short post, Buggy has nailed modesty, propriety, public education and pragmatism gone insane. And I realize that I run the risk of being thought of us unloving, unkind or un-hip, but I'm going to quote Buggy one more time:

"Hijacked. By morons."

Bittersweet Emotions

How do you publicly address the topic of human emotion (from a Biblical worldview) in a succint way, without the potential of someone responding or reacting in an emotional way to something you've said - or haven't said? I don't think it's possible really, but I'm going to attempt it anyway and hope for the best.

I'm sure there is nothing I could possibly say on this topic that hasn't been said before, so I have no intention of trying to reinvent the wheel - and at the same time - I believe it's important to revisit topics like this to keep ourselves in a right balance, a proper perspective on the whole issue so that we don't make the mistake of leaning toward one extreme or the other. Especially for women, since we have the tendency to do this for various reasons.

While emotions can be a good thing, and have been given to us by our Heavenly Father, they are also just as corrupt as any other part of us. Just as our physical bodies are fallen and begin to deteriorate the moment we're conceived, just as our logic and reasoning skills are limited - our emotions are also corrupt and often at the mercy of our own pride, and often dictated by a self-centered perspective.

Emotions can be deceptive, and further can often be destructive in both a spiritual sense and a practical sense. They can lead us to say things we shouldn't have said, think things we shouldn't have thought, and feel things that aren't even real. We have to be so careful not to be led by our emotions and yet at the same time understand where those "feelings" come from and keep them in check, so to speak.

Depending on a wide variety of circumstances (such as stress, joy, good health or poor health, weather, good relationships or bad ones, and yes girls, even that time each month when our body/brain chemistry does the rollercoaster loop-de-loop), on any given day we can easily experience a broad range of emotion, such as:

Feelings of... being overlooked, left out, disregarded, unimportant or useless. Feelings of failure, regret, sorrow, frustration, anxiety, fear, anger or jealousy. In the very same day (even in the very same hour) we can easily experience the sensation of the opposite kinds of feelings such as feelings of joy, peace, contendedness, success, pride or accomplishment.

For most of us (I think... if we're honest) we don't always gauge accurately whether all of these kinds of feelings we experience are good, and/or coming from a Biblical view - or if they're sinful and coming from a "me first", self-centered view.

I'll use jealousy as an example - this is something we all deal with whether we want to admit it or not.

The other day Kev and I were joking around about the kind of sloganeering that goes on in advertising. Ad agencies know that the average consumer is self-centered, so they design their campaigns around that truth. In various forms there is always one kind of ad that works every time, and that's the ad that tells you if you buy this/use this/wear this that others will want to look like you, walk like you, even BE you. It feeds into the pride in man that says "I want to be noticed", and it works quite well. At the same time, it fuels the jealous streak in men & women that says "I want to be/look/sound like that person".

Obviously, this is sinful jealousy that leads directly to covetousness and discontentment and should have no place in a Christian heart. But it's just one example among the countless kinds of examples of how emotion can subtly creep in and lead our thoughts, feelings and in this case even our buying dollars.

Being led by emotion is something that can potentially happen in a wide variety of situations. There are entire Christian denominations that have been affected this way, whirlwind romances are started this way, cut-throat divorces are fueled this way, and abusive relationships are kept abusive, for this very reason as well. In some less extreme situations, even the difficult job of Christian parenting, marital relationships or even on the job relationships can be adversely affected by allowing emotion to lead, rather than wisdom and prayer.

Have you ever experienced (or heard or read someone else say this) that "feeling" that you could burst into tears at the drop of a hat, and you really don't even know why? It could be that there isn't really a legitimate trial going on in your life, but for some reason you feel weepy, or melancholy. I can't pretend to understand why we sometimes feel that way other than to say that it can be a physical, chemical/hormonal imbalance, but I can say that we (especially us women) need to be so very careful and guarded with our words and thoughts when we are feeling that way. Even the smallest or most innocent thing can set off a cascade of thoughts or emotions that aren't really based on anything real, but we just took it the wrong way at the time because we were already feeling despondent, already prone to receiving it the wrong way. This is when we let emotion lead - and it's never a healthy thing either spiritually or as it pertains to our relationships with others.

There are a million other kinds of examples I could give, all very real, real-life examples that we all deal with at one time or another. More important than giving these examples (I think) is pointing to Scripture to deal with them, however extreme or subtle they may be. Just for the record, I do go through this too, so please be assured this isn't finger pointing - it applies to myself as much as anyone else.

The one verse that always comes to mind whenever this topic of emotion comes up, is this one:

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)

A corresponding verse for this is here:

He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered. (Proverbs 28:26)

It should grab your attention that the heart, the seat of emotion in a human being, is described as deceitful, above all things. What Adam and Eve experienced in the Garden of Eden, the purity and joy of unfallen, uncorrupted emotion – is something that no other human being has ever experienced. No matter if its joy, sorrow, anger or contentment, any emotion we experience is in some way touched by sin, and by selfish pride. Our emotions are corrupt because we are fallen people.

Secondly, in the verse in Jeremiah the heart is described as being desperately wicked. Not just wicked, but desperately wicked – that’s important to note. Another way to say that is that the human heart is incurably weak, frail and sick without hope of getting any better. If you think for a moment about a person who has or has had a terminal illness, the first image that comes up for your in your mind should give you a good visual image of what condition the human heart is in. Not only is the heart above all things deceitful, leaving us prone to subtle, shifting, insidious mood swings and emotional over-reactions, it is also the very source of our weakness and our frailty.

The second verse from Proverbs spells it out quite clearly for us. Putting your trust in your own heart makes you a fool. By stark contrast the message of the world will tell you to “follow your heart” or to “listen to your heart”. A quick google search on just those two little phrases yields over 2 million hits. It’s a pretty popular sentiment, but it’s also what the Bible says renders you a fool, dull of mind or even arrogant.

Knowing all of this, and keeping it all in proper perspective is very important but its not even the most important way to approach our own emotional responses or reactions.

The second part of Proverbs 28:26 is the key:

“but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered”

As I considered writing about this over the last few days, I made it a matter of prayer that the Lord would use me to deliver this to those who needed to hear it the most. Truth be told, I am among those who need to hear it the most so I wanted to make sure I indeed addressed this Biblically. One of the most important things I believe we could ever do in our walk with Christ is to routinely and purposefully humble ourselves before the Lord in prayer and pray that He reveal any wicked way, any flaw, any issue within our hearts or minds, just as David did, when he said “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts”.

It should be a constant in our prayer life that our emotions, motivations and intentions be guided by wisdom from above because left on our own, we simply do not have it in us, to bring God the glory. Especially is it pertains to how we deal with emotion and emotional response, we would greatly benefit from an intentional "pause" of thought and seek the Lord for His wisdom, rather than our own emotionally charge reaction.

I do pray that this has blessed you and encouraged you in some way today.

High Tech Dummy: Needs Assistance ASAP

Okay so here's the task:

Transfer roughly 50 VHS and VHS-c video taped memories from 1991 through 2006, onto DVD. Easy, right?


I know I need a video capture card (got that) and I know I need an s-cable... cord... thing (don't have that) and prolly 19 million other cords/jacks/adapters, etc.

Here's the thing:

For some reason, every single site out there that tells you how to do it, assumes you REALLY know what you're doing, rather than starting off with the assumption you haven't a clue in the world, as to what you're doing. The latter would be much preferred.

I refuse to pay the fortune they want to charge me to do it at the camera shop, so I am determined to figure out how to do it myself. If there's anyone out there that has done this, knows what they're talking about and knows how to explain it to a bumbling, low-tech newbie, please speak up now.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

An Unusual Sunday

Normally, Sundays here are the best day of the week. After a hectic morning of making sure everyone is up, fed, dressed/showered, brushed, etc., we're out the door by 10:30 for church. It's not the easiest thing in the world to get 4 little kids (and one teenager) rounded up and still remain presentable - but it's what we do and it does get easier the older they get. It's all worth all the hectic moments to be able to sit under great teaching, be blessed by great preaching, and worship with the saints in song. 100% worth it!

Today however, was a different story. Ruth woke up sick, or should I say woke up Kev at 3:30 am, being sick. I never knew a thing about it until morning when she told me. She's been sick all day. :-( Kev had a rough night with her, so by the time he got up at 9 he was looking a bit haggard. He's on a rotating shift at work and tonight he goes back on midnights. The first night of midnights he needs a lot of sleep, so today is all messed up for him anyway, plus he missed sleep last night taking care of Ruth. So today we stayed home from church. For whatever reason only the Lord knows these things seem to happen more on a Sunday than any other day. I'm not happy about it, but there isn't much I can do, except thank the Lord that it wasn't anything worse.

So tonight, I took my kids shopping. It was the easiest shopping trip I've ever been on with 4 kids all under the age of 9. We didn't even have to put our shoes on, drive anywhere or spend any time in changing rooms. And it all took less than 10 minutes.

We went to Reflections, and they each got to pick out their own new t-shirt! Here's what they each chose:

The Empty Tomb MooseLeaf©

Smiley Flower Pink Carnation

I think they did a fine job picking out their own shirts. I enjoyed not having to battle any crowds, the sleezy selections made available in girls tops, and the bad attitude slogans on boys t-shirts at most stores.

I also spent some time today being inspired by my 6 year old son's bedroom:

Demo Expert

... and wishing I were here:

Summer Breeze

(newly redesigned!)

So... that was my day. Not exactly the usual Sunday around here.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

A Baby Story: Jennifer

Jennifer and Carla - April 28, 2007 I'm pretty sure I've told this story before, but I'm going to tell it again anyway. I get to do that because it's my blog. :-)

Twenty one years ago tonight, my best friend Marlyne (mentioned in the movie meme) had her baby girl Jamie. I was near my due date as well, and in an odd turn of events my due date with Jennifer, was on Marlyne's birthday - May 12. Being that we'd been best friends since we were 12 years old, we thought that was just extremely cool. The next night after Caryn was tucked into bed, I called Marlyne at the hospital to see how she was doing. During our conversation, I was sure I had a labor pain. I didn't say anything at first, but then I was 99% sure I had a second one. I told her I'd better get off the phone because I thought I might be in labor, and we joked a little bit about my baby wanting to be born right away to play with her little girl.

What wasn't so funny, was that I had placenta previa, and early labor was not a good sign. I'd been diagnosed with this at 7 months when I was rushed to the hospital in early labor with frighteningly heavy bleeding. I'd been ordered to bed rest twice, and we already knew I was probably going to have to have a c-section before the actual due date, if things didn't improve (and they were not likely to improve).

So for about 10 minutes I jotted down every "odd" pain I had, no matter how mild. Sure enough, they were contractions and within just a few minutes we had Caryn in her car seat, me in sweats and off to the hospital we went, after a quick call to the doctor. "Get her there NOW" was what he said, and that he'd meet us there.

The next few hours were quite a blur for me. I was admitted, examined and hooked up to all the routine IV tubes & baby monitors. They began an IV drip to slow down my contractions and that seemed to work. The doctor arrived and examined me again and said "yep, you'll be staying this time, and we're going to do an emergency c-section first thing in the morning". I cried. I think I cried mainly because I was scared, but I think I also cried because it wasn't time yet, I wasn't ready - but I was also anxious to meet my baby girl and hopeful that she was okay. It was very emotional news for me.

At some point, Ben and Marlyne met up in the hallway when she was on her way to the nursery to put her newborn daughter back to bed, and she was shocked to see him. She said "Carla is NOT here! Is she?" He assured her I was, and that the baby was coming tomorrow.

The surgery was just as much of a blur to me as the night before, and to this day I wish it wouldn't have been such a drug induced experience. I only remember vague slices of conversations, feelings and sensations during that entire day. I do clearly remember someone saying "here she is, and she's perfect". Then I was handed the most perfect, amazingly beautiful little baby. I cried as I kissed her little face, and then I was out. That was April 30, 1986.

For the next 3 days, I was in and out of a morphine induced nap, while the nurses took care of Little Miss Perfect, and family members came and went and took care of Caryn while Ben was at work. No one told me just how much pain I'd be in, and to this day, the post-surgical pain from that operation outdoes any other kind of pain I've felt. I couldn't walk, couldn't even hardly take a breath without it hurting.

It wasn't until 4 days later when I was released and took my baby home, that I really felt like I connected with her for the first time (because of the drugs in the hospital - I don't tolerate pain well, but I tolerate perscription pain medication even less, as it knocks me completely out).

I was 21, and that was 21 years ago. I'd do it all again in a heartbeat, too.

Happy birthday to my beautiful girl!

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Overheard in my house yesterday:

Samuel, age 6 to his sister Rachel age 8: "Did you know that if you pray upside down, you're actually praying to... (points downward)... him?"

Rachel: "Samuel, that's retarded"

Samuel: "nuh uh, it's true because your prayers go up, so if you're upside down, your prayers have to go down".

I have several observations about this little exchange:

1. I can only assume my son was referring to Satan, unless he thinks we have someone living in the basement.
2. We do not teach our kids to pray upside down - so I haven't a clue where he got that idea.
3. My daughter's dialog skills (while quite astute) could use a wee bit of polishing.
4. My son's logic skills are almost hard to argue with. Almost.
5. My kids are funny.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Movie Meme

1. Name a movie you have seen more than 10 times. Well... there was RHPS, once upon a lifetime ago.

2. Name a movie you’ve seen multiple times in the theater. Easy, that would be Grease. My best friend Marlyne and I saw it 14 times at the theater.

3. Name an actor who would make you more inclined to see a movie. That's tough, but I'd have to say Morgan Freeman, Adrian Brody or Edward Norton.

4. Name an actor who would make you less likely to see a movie. Brad Pitt or John Travolta.

5. Name a movie you can and do quote from. The Princess Bride.

6. Name a movie musical in which you know all of the lyrics to all of the songs. RHPS - what can I say, O'Brien was brilliant.

7. Name a movie you have been known to sing along with. See #6

8. Name a movie you would recommend everyone see. Just one?? Well, if I had to pick only one, that the whole family could watch, it would probably be...The Chronicles of Narnia.

9. Name a movie you own. We own lots of them.

10. Name an actor who launched his/her entertainment career in another medium but who has surprised you with his/her acting chops. Dennis Farina.

11. Have you ever seen a movie in a drive-in? Lots! When I was a kid it was a regular summertime tradition to go to the drive-in.

12. Name a movie you keep meaning to see but you just haven’t gotten around to yet. The Notebook.

13. Ever walked out of a movie? Which one? No, but I have turned off a few I've been watching at home.

14. Name a movie that made you cry in the theater. Laugh if you must, but yes, King Kong. The remake premiered in theaters on my 14th birthday and my best friend and I went to see it. I cried when he died.

15. Popcorn? Definitely, with lots of butter, and raisinettes too!

16. How often do you go to the movies (as opposed to renting them or watching them at home)? Never, it's too expensive.

17. What's the last movie you saw in a movie theater? Independance Day - 1996.

18. What’s your favorite/preferred genre of movie? Psychological Thriller or Drama.

19. What’s the first movie you remember seeing in the theater? I don't think it was the first one I saw in a theater, but one of the earliest that I can recall was The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. I would have been 9 yrs. old. I also had a crush on Jeff East, who played Huck Finn. :-)

20. What movie do you wish you had never seen? The Exorcist.

21. What is the weirdest movie you enjoyed? That's hard, I've seen a lot of weird movies that I enjoyed. I'm a weird person, so it's right up my alley.

22. What is the scariest movie you’ve seen? See #20.

23. What is the funniest movie you’ve seen? Another really hard one, there are so many great, funny movies. Raising Arizona ranks right at the top though.

Feedback Please?

I'm not sure if it worked for anyone else, but it's viewable/playable for me. I added the google mp3 player from over in the right sidebar. I'm also using to host my mp3 file. Both are free (free is good and free blog goodies are even better!), and even on dial up they seem to work pretty well, even if it's slow loading.

The thing is, is that I'm not entirely sure they're working and functional for you, the blog readers.

So... ? Do they work? Is the blog loading too slow? Do you have chocolate for me? Oh wait... that last question has nothing to do with blog widgetry.

But, do you?

Friday Morning Ramblings From an Overtired Mom

No Friday BlogFodder this week, since I've had 'puter woes and deleted my history files. Just to let you in on a little trick I use: if I can't remember all the coolest of the cool stuff I read during the week I go back through my history and pull up the sites that completely rocked. So... in place of BlogFodder you're going to get a smattering of thoughts from an exhausted/end of the week/'my house is a mess' mind:

I woke up this morning to find a size LARGE, dead mouse on my living room floor. After I just cleaned the carpets a couple of weeks ago. Then, came into the kitchen to an empty coffee pot with a note from Kev. It said "this is dead" with an arrow pointing to the coffee pot, and it also said "love you" with an arrow pointing to the 2 Tim Hortons cafe mochas sitting in the tray, next to the coffee pot. This... is life in RolfeLand. Dead varmits in the living room - dead appliances in the kitchen. Someone much more clever than I am could write a country song about that, I'm sure.

Nathan Busenitz over at Pulpit Magazine has posted parts 1, 2 and 3 of The Blog in our Eyes, and you need to read all three of them, and the conclusion coming on Monday. Yes it's all been said before (I've even written on this same topic and said many of the same things, in exactly the same way) but it clearly needs to be repeated, since some of us are not listening. What does it say about me when I read this kind of post or series and immediately think of a couple of high-profile bloggers I know that do NOT follow this wise counsel? (nope, not naming names and you can't make me, so neener!) I'm not sure, but I am sure that I don't pretend that I follow it myself 100% of the time, and that's why I needed to read it again. You do too, so don't think you're exempt either.

teenagers... 'nuff said Teenagers are aliens that are put on this earth to make us insane and second guess every thought, word and deed. Just when you think you've got it all figured out, they dodge and weave like devious, sci-fi shapeshifters and mess up your game plan. If you disagree, you've already snapped and their sinister plan worked.

Phil and his dear wife (and my dear friend) Darlene are leaving today for Italy for a week. Please remember to pray for their safe travels and that they may be blessed, and be a blessing while they're over there. I've read Phil's legendary "travel adventures" and every time I hear he's traveling again I wonder what natural disaster we're going to be reading about in the part of the world he's traveling in. I also miss Darlene when she's gone and I'm a whiner and don't like missing my friends.

Last year, my mom sent to me a quilt kit that my gma started. It's not kit she bought, it's a kit she put together for me to finish. Everything I need to finish my gma's quilt. Squares, batting, backing, thread, pins - you name it - it's in the box. Other than taking it out and ohhing and ahhhing at all the pretty quilt block patterns and prints, I haven't even touched it. The reason for that is twofold: 1. It's freezing in my room (where my sewing machine and privacy are) in the fall and winter and I almost never do any sewing in there during that time. Almost all of my sewing projects are in the spring and summer. 2. My time is consumed by school, household chores, and errands. This time of year (and summer, obviously) I have more free time as we begin to wind down our daily lessons and often have shorter school days.

Today, after Bible and a spelling test for 3 of the kids - I am going to disappear into my room and pull out gma's quilt. I'll post a picture later (maybe, depending on how much I get done) so you can all ohh and ahh at the pretty quilt top, in progress.

And that just about sums up what's going on for me. Tomorrow we celebrate Jennifer's 21st birthday with Kev's World Famouse Barbequed Hamburgers®, and a strawberry cheesecake. Maybe I'll post a Jen-Baby-Story, in the morning.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Tech Difficulties

I've been having nothing but tech/widget/bloggish headaches all day, on various fronts. I did have a friend help me but it seems it didn't quite do what it was supposed to do - so for that reason the audio widget is gone. At least for now.

In light of the post at Neil's, none of that seems important at all, but I thought I'd mention it in case someone wondered why it's gone.

From the Protestant Church of Smyrna

Go to Neil's blog and read this.
I have no other words.

Store Stuff

I had a post in mind tonight but was just too heavy hearted. Too much going on with family & friends & such.

So instead of writing, I did this instead:

John 3:16 Do YOU Believe?

In His Hands

Click the graphic to see the full line, for each.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Modern Culture and Godly Families: Oil & Water

If I had things my way, the only things I'd ever talk about would be things like God's mercy and grace, great music, good food, fun hobbies, and fluffy little kitties. The good stuff, you know?

However, I'm a mom, and a mom to a small army of various ages and temperments and maturity, so I don't get to sit around and discuss great music and fluffy little kitties all the time. In fact, I get to sit around and discuss things that are often high tension and fueled by high standards, and high expectations.

Things like:
• The culture we live in
• Personal holiness
• Honor
• Image
• Responsibility
• Courteousness
• Submission
• Right to privacy
• Respect

On any given day, those are the things discussed in my house, between myself, Kev and any one of the five kids still living at home. Such was the discussion three different times yesterday in varying degress of focus.

In all honesty, I have absolutely no idea from a personal experience perspective, what it is like to be a professing Christian teenager, in the culture that our teenagers live in. Now this is the part where I tell you that when I was a teenager, we walked to school barefoot, 5 miles, uphill both ways, in the snow, and all of that stuff. The weird thing is, it doesn't even really seem like it was that long ago that I was a teenager. Last night I heard a song on the radio that was a hit when I was about 16, and the memories really did feel just like yesterday.

No matter how it seems or feels, it wasn't yesterday and the culture that our teenagers live in today is so drastically different than the culture we grew up in, if you're anywhere near my age.

When I was 16, there were things that just weren't shown on TV, or in movies, or heard in songs, or lived out in social settings. Their were still cultural taboos that were there as a result of a more conservative, polite society that said; marriage is between a man and a woman, kids are supposed to respect and obey their parents, boys should be respectful and responsible, girls should be femine and modest, music should be fun, and families should love one another.

Fast forward a brief 25 years from when I was a teenager and take a good, hard look at the culture we now live in. What was considered normal and expected just a few short years ago, is now out the window. Marriage is between whoever and whoever, kids are killing kids, boys & girls couldn't care less about their personal honor, music (and movies, video games, etc.) is all about doing whatever with whomever and families are splintered and shattered.

While I am certainly no expert on cultural trends, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that when a man parading half naked down main street with his half-naked boyfriend, with 500 other half naked man/man - woman/woman couples, is considered normal and acceptable - - but - - displaying cigarette cartons in public view in convenience stores is now illegal in Ontario, there is without question something putridly wrong in our culture. To give another example - when you can turn on the TV at 7am on a Saturday morning and find hard core porn being broadcast on certain non-pay cable/sat channels (at least in Ontario), you better be asking yourself if you're sure what the Saturday Morning Cartoon club in your house, is really watching. Do they have access to this garbage? Did you even know it was on your tv? (I didn't know it was on mine until last week). Where in the world did our propriety go? Where did our priorities as a society go?

Our kids are literally bombarded every day, with this message. What was once morally repugnant, is now okay, and what was once good, is now ignored (or mocked, or simply unheard of). In other words, wickedness and licentiousness is the new good. As parents, we get the ever-popular job of teaching them and training them that the messages they see in movies, hear on the radio, and watch being lived out in their own group of friends & acquaintances is are the wrong messages, and why they’re wrong. It’s almost an uphill battle at times, and can leave even the most saintly parent pretty well emotionally and spiritually exhausted.

Obviously this issue is certainly not exclusive to our generation of kids. Our own parents (and theirs before them, and so on) dealt with the same kinds of issues. The whole “Elvis the Pelvis” thing in the 50’s (or was it the 60’s?) comes to mind. Indeed every generation of parents, and every generation of kids goes through this to one degree or another.

I am convinced though, that this particular generation of kids is being immersed in a deviant culture unlike any before it, in western society. I’ve asked parents who are older than me, that have raised their kids in my generation and they agree that it’s much worse, and most are glad they’re not still raising their kids, in this culture.

Indeed it’s a battle. The solution? Holy living, teaching them what’s right, reinforcing that every single day in word, thought and deed, vigorous prayer for them and with them, fellowship with a local church body that also reinforces these same Godly standards, and constant communication with your kids.

While it may be impossible to know first-hand what it’s like to be a teenager in our modern culture, it’s not impossible to display a standard for them in their own house, where they can see the difference between the message of the culture and the life of a genuine Christian. That’s our job, our duty, and our responsibility, as their parents. We persevere and we pray and we keep talking to them. We hope God’s word is being cultivated in their hearts and blasting away the message of modern society.

Then, at the end of the day, we might be able to take a deep breath and discuss good food, great music, and fluffy little kitties.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Prayers for Jen

Earlier this evening I tagged Jen in a book meme. Then I visited her blog to find she has a rather personal and serious prayer need. Please take a moment to leave a word of encouragement at her blog, and lift her family in prayer.

A Very Short Book Meme

Libbie tagged me for this very small meme. When I first skimmed it I thought "oh it's short, this will be easy". TA! It's not as easy as I first thought, because I don't read as much as I used to. In any event, here we go:

Name three characters (from books)...

1). You wish were real so you could meet them.

The smallest garden faerie in my faerie story, RuEm.

2). You would like to be.

Well, they're not 'characters', they were real people. Since I just recently read (and was blessed by) again about Martha and Mary, I'll say I'd like to be a combination of the best character traits of both of them.

3). Who scare you.

Cave trolls.

And now, I'm tagging....

Jen, Rebecca, and Kim - three characters who blog and also love books (and read more than I do, I'm guessing).

Store Stuff

REPENT Inspired by a great statement used yesterday by James:
"God bless America, with soul-shaking, tear-producing, behavior altering repentance!"

And a hearty amen to that!!

Monday, April 23, 2007

I Need a Volunteer - and VOTERS!

Okay kids, I've been goofing off with sidebar toys today. Over yonder in the right sidebar you'll see a widget for audio comments. Now..............

Who's going to be the first one to try it out? :-)
Fine I'm a copycat, and yes I saw this at other blogs, but that's the way it works. The Blogger's Choice awards are on, and I wanted to be voted the #1 Blog About STUFF!

The way I see it, there's no WAY I'm going to be voted in #1 Religion blog, or parenting blog, so I'm going to campaign for being the #1 blog about STUFF.

Thanks to my readers voting, Reflections Fun T-shirts became the #1 store, so I'm hoping we can do this again and shoot me straight to the top of STUFF!!!!

Now click the icon in the left sidebar and show your stuff by voting for me. I only need 113 votes get to #1 as of today. YOU did that with the store votes, you can do again for the STUFF votes, easy!

Pretty please? :-)

Bible Promises: Spiritual Maturity

(From the Bible Promises series found here)

Every once in a while I run across something online that I wrote maybe 5 or 10 years ago. The first web page I created in 1997 is still online ( and some of my older writings are there. I’ve updated many of them, removed many of them, and changed things around a bit, but some of my earliest Christian thoughts are there for the whole world to see. There’s even an online archive of a discussion forum I was on back in 1993, before I was saved – and no I will not be pointing anyone to that link.

Whenever I come across something I’ve written long ago, I cringe. I don’t make it a secret that I used to be a charismatic, and when I read my old writings sometimes I secretly wish I could sneak in and edit them when no one’s looking so that no one knows how much of a doctrinal dummy I was, years ago. (Which is not to imply all charismatics are dummies, it simply means that I was one, once, and I was also a doctrinal dummy). Whenever I have re-written something that I first wrote many years ago, I make it clear that I’ve updated it and edited it, so that no one thinks I’m trying to be Mrs. Sneaky Pants – making it appear as if I did it right the first time around.

I suppose not everything I’ve ever written was filled with error, but those earlier Christian articles stand as a testimony to God’s grace in my life to continue to “grow me up” in Him. As unpleasant as it can be to see where I was 5 or 10 years ago, it’s also a good thing because I see how far I’ve come. Oddly enough the more I see that, the more I see how far I still have to go. Amazing how that works out.

When we “get saved” or when we become converted to Christ, for most of us it’s a literal matter of being in kindergarten. We just don’t know much of anything outside of the gospel that we heard that transformed our lives. We ask a lot of questions (either openly or privately with someone) and we often make some very ignorant statements. It’s just the way it is.

Recently my husband and I were having a conversation about a Christian singer’s music. I made the comment that in the more recent material, the tone of the songs and the emotion in the voice is seasoned with life, and all that comes with that. Going through painful trials down in the valley and and then being restored with unspeakable joy up on the mountain, and having that Christian maturity that ongoing sanctification brings with it, makes a big difference in the way you sound – no matter if you’re speaking, singing, or writing. The more growth & maturity, the more obvious it is that the person ‘has been there’ and knows what they’re talking about.

Here are just a few of the Bible promises, that tell us He will be faithful to ‘grow us up’ in Him:

• That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ. (Ephesians 4:14-15)

• And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. (Psalm 1:3)

• But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. (Proverbs 4:18)

• I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:3-6)

• But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. (2Peter 3:18)

Sunday, April 22, 2007

New and Improved! Post-Be-Gone!

blackberries... YUM

Well what do you do when you had a HUGE post nearly done and you're disconnected from the internet and lose the whole thing?

You eat blackberry ice cream (home made) and sigh a lot.

Some day I'll remember to compose offline so this won't keep happening to me.

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Humbleness of Mind, Anyone?

Well then... if you've been reading the latest hoo-haa over at TP, you'll get this. If not, let me 'splain:

A commenter left this message in this thread:

"Has anyone noticed that anytime there is a post here that even loosely refers to critiques of the emerging movement, the meta runs rampant and turns into a tiresome deconstruction of words used, tone expressed, presuppositions presupposed and eventually becomes a sophomoric "I said/he said" exchange?"

You might as well have asked:

Has anyone noticed that anytime the mainstream media runs a story on the nightly news about "Christianity" you're inevitibly going to see a clip of a RC church and/or a shot of the pope?

In other words, it's a given that the MS media is going to misrepresent Christianity with Catholicism, and it's a given that if you critique the EC that all sorts of EC adherenets, supporters, sympathizers and fellow critics are going to jump into the fray.

I can only assume the #1 reason for that is because both 'camps' take this subject as serious as the other. The EC folks believe their way is the right way (or at the very least really want to talk about their, or some kind of way) and the critics are convinced that this is the wrong way, filled with heresy and apostacy and all sorts of ungodly philosophies of men. Lines in the sand, butting heads and all that.

The thing is, is that rarely does this actually go anywhere or become profitable at all. At least in my limited experience. I indeed have seen critics come to a better understanding of the EC (and I am one of them) and I've also seen EC adherents realize error and walk away from it. Overall however, that is not the way it tends to work.

One fellow critic commented nearly two years ago now that attempting any real discussion with many of these folks is akin to hearing from the angst filled lips of a teenager "you're SO mean!" with a storm of words to follow. Rabbit trails and red herrings and strawmen, oh my! to quickly follow.

you're SO mean!While that might conjure up a somewhat humorous image, the truth is - we all need to watch our attitudes, our choice of words, our motives and our intentions - no matter what side of the camp we plant ourselves in. All of us, no matter who we are, can be mean, snarky, insulting, condescending, flippant, arrogant, rude, dismissive and obnoxious. Especially when engaged in a discussion that we don't think is going the way we want it to go. Especially when it's a topic that we hold dear to our hearts and want to convey the importance of it to someone that isn't listening. That's called pride, kids, and if you think you don't have it, I've got some beach front property in Desert Hot Springs for sale.

Lest anyone be confused about my intention here, I can assure you that being an EC critic for the last 2+ years has given me an insight into the way these folks think (and why) but it's also given me a good look at my own conduct and reaction to the critique of the critique. If I were to be 100% honest I would have to confess that my motives, my words and my attitudes have not always been completely above reproach. That doesn't contribute much of anything useful to the "conversation" no matter what you're discussing.

I guess all I'm really saying is this:

Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. (Colossians 3:12-17)

I wonder what would happen to the image of evangelicism if this govererned every dialog, every conversation, and every discussion we ever had in any context (not just blogging)? Maybe we wouldn't look or sound like Mr. Happy pictured here, if we tried a little harder to do this?

Just thinking outloud.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Friday BlogFodder: April 20, 2007

I'm just going to go right ahead and bump that incredibly cool palm tree t-shirt right off the top spot. You wont mind, right?

Last night I was having a particularly difficult time getting around. Not only do I still have this brutal sinus thing & cough, but I also have this neck thing. One doctor calls it "chronic muscle spasm", but I'm sure there's a cooler term for it, like "MAN, get this flaming spear out of my neck!" or something like that. When it flares up, it hurts, really really really bad. No, I mean really bad. So anyway, there I was sitting on the laundry room floor sorting whites, darks & coloreds and it was nearly impossible to make the slightest move of my head without a pain shooting through my neck. So I did what any reasonable, rational person would do, and started crying. I'm not sure if I was crying because it hurt, or because I'm just tired of this pain, or because I'm a wimp and can't be okay with the fact that God doesn't take it away. Probably all of the above.

Kevin, being the voice of reason that he is, made a comment to me that he had to offer a disclaimer for, first: "don't take this the wrong way, but" Don't you love that disclaimer? It's my favorite, because it tells me I'm PROBABLY going to want to take it the wrong way, and shouldn't.

He just reminded me that as much as it hurts and as miserable as it makes me, to remember that there are so many people in so much worse condition than I am. Now, if I were prone to hysterics and all that other spooky hormonal female stuff, I'd snap and accuse him of being uncaring and all of that. I might even throw things and really get my point across. (Not that I haven't ever thrown things or anything, I mean... well, nevermind). The thing is though, he's absolutely correct and it's something I have to force myself to remember when I'm having a particularly intense bout of IBS. I have to think outside myself, so to speak. Putting my own situation into a larger perspective and measuring it that way makes such a huge difference in my own attitude - but I still have force myself to do it, because I forget.

Kev rhetorically asked last night "why didn't God take away Paul's thorn?". Well, we all know the answer to that (and if you don't, it's in 2Cor. 12:7), but regardless, I can only assume Paul was in a fair amount of discomfort from whatever his infirmity really was. I don't suppose Paul ever sat in the dirt sorting his laundry and bawling, but I know for people with chronic pain, it's no walk in the park to deal with it - especially if you can't take anything for it, like me. Paul said of his thorn in the flesh that he gloried in it, and took pleasure in it (that the power of Christ might rest on him in those times and that in his weakness he would be made strong, through Him). That is why Paul was so cool, and I'm such a crybaby whiner. I want to be more like Paul in that regard.

Think on these things, it'll do ya lots of goodSo this morning I was reminded of 2 things that I want to pass along to you, because they made a difference to me and I suppose the might make a difference to you too. This is the hyper-condensed version of Friday BlogFodder:

"Do you want to know who you really are? Take a hard look at your private life—especially your innermost thoughts. Gaze into the mirror of God’s Word, and allow it to disclose and correct the real thoughts and motives of your heart."

Read that again. Now one more time. This was the closing statement of Pastor John's post here on there being nothing safe about secret sin. You REALLY need to read this post, and really really need to read this post if you think for one second that you don't need to read this post.

Someone once said something to me that left me undone. You've heard it before I'm sure, and that saying goes more or less like this "what kind of Christian are you when no one's looking?" Ouch. Truth be told, sometimes I'm exactly the person you read at this blog, and other times I'm on the laundry room floor bawling like a 4 yr old that got the broken candy cane. You know how kids act when they get the broken one - it's monumental and the whole world is supposed to be revolving around them, and serving them unbroken candy canes! Yep, momentary episodes of pure selfishness and lack of faith. Ouch again.

Moving right along...

Phil's Linkage
You might recognize this from the sidebar at TeamPyro. Phil routinely lists good books, audio and web links that he's currently enjoying, under this little heading. I click the links there quite often, and did that very thing night before last, to this link that Phil called "The last enemy that shall be destroyed". I stayed up well beyond my bed time to scroll through the entire story as my dial up connection was smoking and sputtering to load each picture. It was worth it.

I continually amaze myself with my selfishness when I can click a link like that and still wallow in my own pathetic whinery. No, I did not mean winery. If you click that link and follow the story of this mother and her son, and you do not feel compelled to tell yourself to 'stick a sock in it' and it does not break your heart, then you just don't have a heart to begin with.

I could have listed a bunch of other stuff for this week (and last, since I didn't 'Fodder last week either) but I want to focus on these two. Besides, I keep getting disconnected from my ISP and every time I do, I lose what I've written. I wont whine too much about that, but that is annoying.

Off with you now, go read Pastor John's post, then go look at the link Phil posted. It'll change your perspective BIG TIME.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

A Little of This, A Little of That...

We're sorry, the number you have reached has been disconnected...

I feel somewhat disconnected lately. Not from my family or my walk with the Lord, but just in a general, can't-really-put-my-finger-on-it sort of way. It's not a pleasant feeling and I suspect it has a lot to do with the illnesses around here that seem to never end, and the exhaustion I feel by the end of the day.

Today, I declared war on clutter, and after our Bible lesson we all had assigned chores to do. It took all day for them to get done, but they all did get done, and that made a big difference in my general mood. The kids also felt a sense of accomplishment to get so much done as well, so that was a good thing.

The unsettling disconnect started several months ago actually, when my friend Michael died. There was a time (before he got sick and weak) that we'd talk almost every day via MSN messenger. A typical conversation might have looked like this:

Michael: hey
Carla: hey yourself
Michael: you comin' into chat tonight?
Carla: probably, will your room be open?
Michael: Lord willing
Carla: k, see you all later on then

Not very earthshattering, is it? That's the whole point though. While I knew Michael for many years, and we often had some pretty deep theological conversations online, it was the kind of friendship where we could also just pm one another and say "hey" and hey was enough to just sort of touch base. His mom loved pics of baby Ruth, so I'd often send an updated shot with a comment such as "this is for your mom, you can look at it IF she says it's okay". Or he'd pm me with a message from his cat Kitty, for my retarded and demonic cat Otis (who is no longer with us, thankfully). If more than a few days at a time passed by without hearing from one another, it didn't feel right.

Then he got sick, and with his illness & treatments the conversations were less and less. The last time we "talked" was right before Christmas time when he pm'd me with a "hey" and asked me to take a look at a website he was building for a local dog breeder. It was a cool site and the German Shepherd graphics he made were superb. We only chatted for a few minutes before we both had to go and do other things. He was gone less than a month later.

Michael was a dear friend and a part of my day, nearly every day, for many years. Adjusting to him being gone hasn't be easy or enjoyable, and that's part of what makes up this disconnected feeling.

I guess we all have times like this, don't we? A new job, a move, someone dies, or something else changes drastically and you try to figure out how to adapt & adjust. Maybe a teenager in your house turns into an alien and your sanctification is tested & tried as you spend what feels like every waking moment attempting to talk some sense into them. I've been there - in fact I spent 3 years there once. Or maybe you get sick and the entire house falls apart along with everyone's schedules, bills being paid on time, and all sorts of chores being backed up. I've been there too (and am there now, actually). I suppose it could be any number of things that might come along and make you feel out of step with where you long to be, or as I used to say when I was little and felt this way, walking along side everyone else, but in a bubble, where you can't quite blend in. As you may have guessed, I have a good number of years experience of not blending in. As a child most of friends were boys with cool bikes, and when puberty hit that messed me up pretty good. Learning how to fit in being a girl, and all that comes along with that, wasn't so easy to manuever for me. Truth be told, it's still not easy sometimes, especially when I want to fire off a scathing rebuke of a societal ill, or theological heresy - and I'm gently reminded by the Holy Spirit that my intended tone is better left for a male to address. That's a hard one of for me. I'm still learning how I fit in, in that capacity.

All that to simply say that lately I feel a lot like a helium balloon with a severed string. I need to get over my miserable virus and the sun needs to shine brightly, so I can get outside and work in the garden. I need to open doors and windows and let a warm breeze drift through the house to clear out the musty winter air. I need to go to the dollar store and buy a pair of flip flops & put all my thick winter socks away. I need to get my bike out of the garage, clean it and oil it and start riding again.

mmm... ice cream & stuffOkay, maybe I don't actually need all those things, but I sure want them. Being sick and having cabin fever and being disconnected really stinks.

I probably need one of these to really cure me once and for all. Better yet, I probably just need to go to the store and buy what I need to make homemade blizzards.

hmmm... now there's a great idea for this Sunday's dessert.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Miscellanies In RolfeLand

Well then... I should write a manual on how to have a really SNARK-O-RAMA day. You know, for when things are just going too well, and you haven't had a rotten day in a while, and desire to even things out. I'm sure it would be a bestseller.

I'm way too busy for that though, so I wont.

The Cutest Baby in the Universe I finally got around to uploading some new pics over yonder at my Flickr account. It took some doing, since they merged with Yahoo! and Yahoo! was the sound it made when it ate my old Flickr ID/login and left me out in the cold, battling to get logged in and straighten the whole mess out. A couple of hours I could have spent eating chocolate, spent instead duking it out with yahoos that flicker. How intelligent. Anyhoo (and not yahoo), there are some shots of the girls & the cutest baby in the universe up there.

I also managed to find some time to put in on my faerie story, and get it off to the super-fantastic, ever-kind, wonderfully complimentary lady who proofreads & edits such things. She also reads this blog so hopefully she'll see all those nice things I just said about her and be kind when she says "Carla, your grammar stinks, get a real job".

And now, I desperately need your help. I think I've probably mentioned this before (I'm nothing if not repetative, it's a gift), but I have a heightened sense of smell. Even with this evil sinus cold I have right now, I can still smell things better than most people can smell things even if they don't have a cold. Because of my 'gift', I can smell things that most people can't, and to me they smell even stronger, than they do to most everyone else.

Now, we also have a creature in this house called a Beagle. Who is also a puppy. That likes carpets. Need I say more? Didn't think so.

Last week I rented a carpet cleaner to get rid of Beagle Juice Scent on my living room and dining room carpet and I cleaned each of them SEVEN times. They look great, but I can still smell that horrid, putrid, gag-inducing smell, as soon as I go near those rooms. YES I've tried the vinegar trick, and no it did not work.

There must be something I can use on those carpets to get that smell out. Right? If someone knows of a sure fire solution, please (I'm begging you, I'm actually typing this from bended knee with an uber-pathetic look on my face than even the darkest heart would take pity on) please please feel free to comment, or send me an email with the cure to my dilema?

Monday, April 16, 2007

Blacksburg Virginia: A City in Pain

I had other plans for my time this evening but I really can't concentrate on anything else right now, so I figured I'd get this out.

I'm sure you're all in the same boat as myself, having watched the events unfold today in VA, or having read or heard the news at some point today and sensed all the same feelings as myself - anger, shock, grief, sadness and helplessness.

During my morning routine after school was over, I clicked on FOX news to skim the headlines. At that time, the headline said 1 dead and several wounded. It made me sad, and I made a mental note to remember the families in prayer. Less than an hour later the death toll increased dramatically as the news media outlets received more and more information. I sat here and tried to put a number on all the people that needed God's immediate grace and mercy, comfort and protection, and the more I thought about it the more grieved I felt.

With the 33 people confirmed dead, including the gunman, I tried to think of the most obvious and immediate relations. If each of them had 2 parents, a brother, a sister, a couple of close friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, spouses, and maybe even kids or other close family/friend connections, that's at least 10-15 people personally, directly and brutally grieving today for EACH of the people who died. Considering there were 33 of them, it's a realistic figure to say that somewhere around 500 people today who weren't even on campus in VA, had their hearts shattered by this news, and the loss of someone they loved dearly - all at the same time.

That's a lot of pain. That's a lot of need.

That doesn't even take into consideration all the students, faculty & staff who made it out alive and will begin processing all of this in the coming days and weeks, trying to make sense of it, and even overcome newfound fears and anger that they didn't have, when they woke up this morning.

Obviously, since I'm a Christian, one of my first thoughts was "as a Christian, how do we respond when people ask 'why' - meaning why did God allow this?" It's a legitimate and important question and it's the same one anyone asks when going through a personal tragedy of any scale. I'll be perfectly honest and admit I don't have the definitive answer for this. I wish I did, and I wish having the perfect answer would be enough to make everyone go "oh okay, well that makes sense, now I feel better about the whole thing". There is no answer that is going to make anyone feel better about having a loved one gunned down in cold blood.

This much I do know... God did allow it, and He allowed it for His own perfect and holy reasons. I don't always understand His will in such things like this, I just know that He indeed does permit/allow/ordain all sorts of painful things to take place in life, for good reasons.

I cannot help but think of the account in Scripture when Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery and how he eventually gave the answer to this very question - that what they meant for evil, God meant for good. Obviously being sold into slavery wasn't a good thing, but what came out of it was a good thing, and Joseph understood that. Of course God knew exactly how He was going to use Joseph years later, and for Him to use Joseph in the way He would, Joseph would need to go through what he did, first.

Evil men do evil things, and God allows it. That's a hard truth to get our thoughts around. It would be a lot easier (or maybe not) if we could see the larger picture, because then we might see what good our Heavenly Father has planned for this, down the road. But, we usually can't see what 'good' is to come from such pain, and that's where faith comes in. We simply trust that no matter what, God's will and God's ways are perfect and holy, and He will sustain us with His strength, His mercy, and His comfort to get through it.

Evil men do evil things, and we would do well to remember that if it were not for the restraining grace of God in our world, that this would happen much more often. God is merciful to us in that He doesn't allow such vile carnage to take place every day, mutliple times a day, all around the world, in every city, town and village. That He restrains more evil from taking place, is a testimony to His great mercy.

I still vividly recall (and you probably do too) thinking how incredible it was that the potential death toll from 911 wasn't what they (those in the know) originally speculated it would be. Many thousands more could have died that day, and didn't. Many will not see it, but that in fact was God's mercy there. Just as it was His mercy today that more didn't die in VA.

As Christians, we don't see the cup as half empty - we see it half full. We know what wicked human hearts are capable of, because we were once vessels carrying around those very same wicked hearts ourselves. As new creatures however, we also know of His astounding grace and power to change hearts. Where the unsaved may see senseless brutality against fellow human beings (and make no mistake, it certainly is), as believers we see God's grace there as well.

My prayers tonight go out to the families and friends of the dead. More specifically, it is my prayer that our Heavenly Father might be pleased to send His people to come along side those who are grieving, that they might minister His grace and comfort to them, and bring them words of healing and hope. I pray that the grieving will simply be surrounded by believers, that not only will their physical and emotional needs be met with hands to hold and hugs to receive, tears to wipe away by caring hands, but also and more importantly, that their spiritual needs would be met and they would find comfort and hope in none other than the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Soli Deo Gloria

Another Homeschooling Year, Almost Over

I'm not sure where the time went, but as of today the Rolfe Christian Academy only has 8 more weeks of school, before summer vacation officially begins. I had to check that closely on the calendar since the idea of summer is a little hard to get my thoughts around right now, since we haven't even had spring yet.

I don't know if it's just this family, but every year it seems to work out the same way. From September until Christmas break, our routine goes smooth as clockwork. Then from January until Spring break it's a chore to stay on task and stay on schedule. Between Spring break and the end of the school year, it's even harder. I think (in fact, I'm fairly certain) that this has much to do with the fact that we're stuck inside for several months of the year and we're all just suffering a bit from cabin fever.

As much as I look forward to summertime every year, I also look forward to these last 8 weeks of school every year, as well. This is the time of year when all the review materials come into play and I get to see a little clearer, just how much the kids have learned since September. I'm always pleasantly surprised at how much they've learned, in such a short time. I don't know if I'm the best teacher in the world, but I'm sure that I'm happier than any unrelated teacher they could ever have, to see their progession.

It's sort of funny, when Rachel (8) asked me the other day "mom, what grade am I in?". Well, in Ontario if she were in public school, she'd be in the third grade. In WA, where I'm from, she'd be finishing the second grade due to when her birthday falls. In our world however, she's in a varied-grade level program because where she excels she moves ahead, and where she struggles she moves a little slower until she no longer struggles. That's one of the beautiful freedoms of homeschooling - that your kids learn at their pace, instead of someone else's pre-defined pace.

Can you imagine as an adult, going to a Christian bookstore and being told you cannot buy a certain book, because you haven't read the prerequisite books on their list before they can sell you that book? Or they check your ID and determine that if you're under the age of 40, there's an entire section of books they will not sell you? It seems ridiculous, doesn't it?

I know a lot of people that have kids in public school, so I don't mean to offend them in any way, but in very much the same way, this is what public school is like. It doesn't matter if your 6 year old already knows his phonics, he's going to be forced to stay in the same program until the end of the school year. Likewise, it also doesn't matter if your 9 yr old still doesn't know her basic addition tables, she's going to moved ahead to the next grade level, because leaving her behind would damage her self-esteem.

Fooey on that, I say. Learning and learning well, is a lifelong activity. In either case of learning quickly and encouragment to moving ahead, or learning slowly and being diligent to keep plugging away at it until we learn it, these are learning skills that we have to really foster well, when our kids are young, so that they enjoy learning for the rest of their lives.

As demanding as homeschooling can be, I still have no regrets as I look toward the end of our 7th year of doing it. There have been some monumental success (such as pulling Jessica up two full grade levels in all subjects, when she was that far behind in public school when we took her out - it took us several years to do it, but she worked hard and finally did it!) and some really frustrating things (such as Jordan and math, eek!! she hates math - I'm so glad we have a printer for math worksheet practice), but all in all, it's still the best decision we've ever made, for our children's education.

Now if I can only get through the next eight weeks without going nutty if I see one more snowflake fall from the sky, we'll all be laughing.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

On Books & Being a Martha

There used to be a time that I'd pick up a book and no matter how long it was (for the most part), I'd be done reading it in 2 days or less. I learned how to power-read when I was about 12. Mom would buy a paperback suspense/mystery Saturday morning at the grocery store and announce "I'm taking that with me to work Monday morning - if you want to read it, you better start now". If I had a dollar for every weekend I lounged around the house reading... well, I'd have a lot of dollars. That continued until I was 18 and moved out on my own.

That habit just stuck with me, and the older I got I contined to read the same way, fast & furious. I often wondered if I really retained what I had read, so often I'd talk to people who'd read the same books I did just to see if they had the same impression of the book, and 9 times out of 10 others had the same opinions & insights into the same books. Somehow, power-reading works for me and I do indeed retain what I read. Once in a while though, I come across a book that I just can't do that with. Maybe it's more accurate to say I don't want to do that with all books. The deeper the doctrine, the richer or more timeless the message, and I find myself not wanting to miss anything, or overlook an opportunity to really meditate on the words and see how or if somethng I've read applies in my own life.

Since I started homeschooling 7 years ago, my reading habits have drastically changed, however. The book budget that we used to spend on books for ourselves for furthering our Christian education, or for purely entertainment purposes, was replaced by text books, workbooks and school supplies. It's only every once in a while that either Kev or I have the opportunity to buy ourselves a book, and when we do that now we try to be even more careful & discerning with what we do buy, so that it can be a permanent part of our own library, for the kids to read when they're older, or the church library, for someone else to read and enjoy as well. Even the way I read now is different, since my daytime hours are taken up with school & household chores & errands, and my night time hours are limited and I have to decide if I'm going to work on my store, create new graphics, do some blogging or other writing, work on a household project, or find a book to read. It's a tough choice and I only have a few hours in the evening to cram all that in!

Twelve Extraordinary WomenMore or less, I said all that to sort of explain why a book I received for my birthday in December, is still on my "currently reading" list. I only have one chapter to go but by all rights I should have been done reading this book in January. Last night however, I decided to simply unplug and find a comfy chair to sit under the teaching of pastor John MacArthur in Twelve Extraordinary Women. With my coffee and prerequisite cheetos (no, I did not get any powdered cheese product on the pages, I'm a very skilled snacker/reader), I spent the night looking a little closer at Mary the mother of Jesus, Anna the aged prophetess that lived in the temple, the Samaritan woman at the well, sisters Martha and Mary, and Mary Magdalene. I'm so glad I did that last night, they were the best company I could think of, to visit with.

What struck me in reading last night is the same thing that always strikes me as frustrating when I read about Martha. It's hard for me to put into words (although John MacArthur didn't have a problem with it, I sure do!), but I see Scripture painting her as a genuine servant, and at the same time someone with a bit of a control issue. I guess it's hard for me to say that because I've always admired Martha and feel odd saying anything like that about her. It's obvious though in the way she tries to scold Mary for not helping her when she thought she should be, even though Mary was busy worshipping Jesus.

Can you picture in your mind, you and your brother or sister having Jesus in your home, and you're listening to Him and worshipping Him while the other gets flustered because you're not helping with the potato salad, and actually tries to get Jesus to tell you to get up and come to the kitchen and help? I know that sounds crazy, but that's exactly what Martha did. I always cringe when I read that passage, because I see myself in Martha, in that aspect. That character trait that pops out and says "it has to be done this way, and at this time, and in this order". It's a domineering pride issue to get all caught up in the method of service and I know it, and I don't like that it's a part of me.

I do like the way pastor John handled that though, and even admitted that he himself identifies with Martha in this way. I think it would be safe to say we all understand at least a part of that kind of control-freakish sort of attitude.

In any case, I have been and continue to be thoroughly blessed by this book. I'm still sick (worse actually, now it's sinus pain), so I'm at home this morning while everyone is off at church. I hate missing church, and especially don't want to miss Pastor Ken's next address in the Hall of Faith. I hope Ken remembers to grab a tape for me.

I'll be visiting with Lydia today, and then I'm done with this book. I cannot give a higher recommendation than to simply say, ladies, if you haven't read it yet, you NEED to read this book. It will simply bless your heart and challenge you to aim a little higher toward the goal of being a godly woman.