Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Jesse Imeson: Captured

Google news and a dear reader both notified me at the same time. Jesse Imeson has been caught.

Praise God for answered prayer, and for all of you who have been praying. Please don't forget to pray for all the people this brutal crime has affected the most.

It's What I Do

From time to time someone expresses to me (or points me to a link) the extreme dislike among some in the Christian community, for all things "making merchandise of Jesus". Christian T-shirts, Christian coffee mugs, car accessories, etc., so forth and so on. Some have called it Jesus Junk. Challies calls it Church Merch, or something to that affect. While I am the first one to agree that if someone's motive is to make a buck off Christ, they need to repent big time, I'm not so eager to toss all Christian merchants (that sell such things) into the same category, and I'm going to tell you why. Partly, it's because I am one such merchant and there's another side to the story. This one's mine:

1. I like comfy fitting t-shirts and so do countless numbers of other Christians. I don't mind wearing t-shirts with someone's logo or whatever on it, but I'd much prefer to wear a t-shirt with something GOOD on it, like a Bible verse or a symbol that represents who I am and what I'm about. If I'm going to wear a t-shirt (and I am) why not wear one with a great message on it? If I'm going to have a license plate frame, drink coffee from a mug, or give them as gifts, or decorate my house with scenic artwork, send greeting cards, use fridge magnets or buy posters for my kids - and I am and do all of the above - then I want these things to have meaning, say something worth reading, or present an image that brings glory to God. I'm certainly not the only Christian that feels this way.

2. Like most people, the prices of Christian t-shirts in local Christian bookstores are insanely high, for what you get. Insert lame saying here - pay through the nose to wear it. I don't think so. I started designing my own Christian t-shirts with both of these factors in mind: price and quality. I figured if I could create a line of nice looking t-shirts and keep the cost as low as possible, that would work out well for me, and for others looking for a decent Christian t-shirt at a decent price. It's worked out rather well, I must say and I don't feel compelled to apologize one bit for it. I like what I do, it glorifies God and it gives other believers a nifty t-shirt to wear, or gifts to give.

3. The whole idea of making merchandise of Christ is a horrible thing to do. I recall a couple years ago an online aquaintance was venting to me about Christian t-shirt companies making a fortune off "selling the gospel" and he was not the least bit shy about expressing his extreme disgust toward them, to me. Then he asked what I thought. I agreed with him that if someone is "in it" for the money, then shame on them.

I remember dealing with a HUGE "Christian" bookclub once that tried to bill me for books I never ordered, nor received. When treated like a lying con man by their customer service department, and informed that collection action would be taken against me, I fired off a hand written letter to their corporate offices reminding them that they bill themselves as Christians, and the honorable thing to do in my case, since I certainly was not lying about the books I never ordered or received, was to cancel the bill and write it off as a loss. Of course I didn't have proof I didn't have the books (how can you prove that?) but I informed them that on my word as a follower of Christ, I did not order or have them - nor did I want them.

When I say this company is huge, I do mean huge, and being that big you know they make the kind of money in a year that many folks would gasp at, and they wanted to make my life miserable for a lost shipment of books totalling less than $60 bucks. As it turned out, a very apologetic customer svc. rep called me back in a couple of weeks (after the letter went out) and informed me that the bill was cancelled in full. I can only assume that at least for a moment, the first customer svc. rep forgot they were a Christian company, and was just acting on behalf of a big business - and doing business as usual. I'm pretty sure that's what $$$ does to people, but I wouldn't know for sure, since He's made sure I've never had enoug of it to find out. Now then... back to my venting friend:

After he blew his stack about Christian t-shirt companies & asked my opinion, then I asked him if he knew of my store Reflections. He didn't, and interestingly enough after he visited the link, he no longer had a word to say about Christian t-shirts. I can only guess he thought he'd stuck his foot in his mouth (and he did, but I didn't tell him that) and wanted to drop it. He made the mistake of lumping folks like me, in with folks that ARE in it for the money by selling the most outlandish nonsense you can think of at the premium price. There's a huge difference, I assure you.

4. While it is certainly a subjective experience, it is my own experience and that of many others, that a well designed t-shirt or bumper sticker will in fact at times open up an evangelism moment and/or cause some people to ask questions or think about what they've read. I don't know if there's any kind of scientific research done on this, but we all know that bumper stickers attract your eye. Cleverly worded ones stick in your mind and if you can create one that brings God the glory, why not create one!? It's an opportunity to send a message, so send it!

5. Do I think that by wearing a Christian t-shirt I'm making a bold statement of faith? Nope, I sure don't. In fact, when I decide to put one on that day, I do it because I like it - the same way anyone else decides to wear whatever they wear, every day. If it does open up an opportunity to discuss my faith then amen and right on!, and I only hope the Lord will be gracious to give me the right words to say to a complete stranger asking a question about what's on my t-shirt (He always has so far, and I have no reason to doubt that will stop). If it doesn't open up an opportunity, then I'm still going to wear it because I like it - just like anyone else likes what they wear, and what's more, people will see it when I'm out in public no matter if they ask me anything or not. I know for myself when I'm out in public seeing messages that say things like Girlz Rule or Drama Queen or some other self-indulgent, naricissistic, obnoxious saying on the fronts of t-shirts or plastered across the seat of shorts or yoga pants, it's sure nice to see a person with a hoodie that says I LIVE FOR HIM. We're bombarded in the public arena with an overwhelming amount of messages, so it's refreshing to see good ones, from time to time. It really is that simple.

6. Like I mentioned above in #2 (and these are in no particular order), I like what I do. I like taking a blank canvas and creating something that is a.) visually appealing and b.) has a Godly message or symbolism that brings glory to God. I'm a very creative person and I want to use my creative talents to bring Him glory. Whether that comes in the form of my photography that I turn into prints with a verse of encouraging Scripture, or simple text graphics that make a statement, or anything else I do in the creative department. He gifted me this way, and I only desire to point the observer of my work, straight back to Him. If what I do for His glory can put a nice t-shirt on someone's back or a stylish print for your wall, then I'm happy to able to provide that, and I'll always do it for the least amount of money I can. I'm not "in it" to make big bucks, and any profit I do make goes to buying school books or supplies for our homeschool. It's nice to be able to provide my customers with this merchandise, and in turn provide my kids with Christ centered books to learn from, in the process.

So there you have it. No question there is a "merchandising of the gospel" that goes on, but please remember that not all of us Christian merchants are doing that.

Some of us have ulterior motives that extend well beyond the cash drawer.

Do you mind?

I am having an exceptionally rotten day today. I wont burden you with the details but if my readers would feel so inclined to pray for me today, I'd sure appreciate that.

Random Seasonal Ramblings

A few disjointed thoughts today:

• See that store banner at the top of the blog? Well, that buy 3 get 1 free offer is over at 11:59 pm Wednesday August 1st. So... if you wanted to get in on this deal, you have until midnight tomorrow to do that.

• I’m not sure what it was recently, but someone said something that made me a little sad about the idea that summer is almost over. While we’ll technically have another couple of months of nice weather here in Southern Ontario (it doesn’t normally start getting chilly until around the end of September), summer vacation will be over in 5 weeks from today. I don’t like that idea!

While I do look forward to this school year (primarily because it’s Jessica’s last year and Ruth’s first year), I was sort of hoping we could do the tablecloth trick with time, and shuffle it just a bit so that 5 weeks turns into 10 weeks. Obviously this is not possible, but one can dream, can’t one?

I got to thinking about seasons, and how I feel about them. For some odd reason, they remind me of people.

Spring is like holding and admiring someone’s newborn baby. Delicate and brand new, it’s lovely to behold, has a pleasant smell that makes you feel good, but it isn’t yours to keep and soon you have to say goodbye to it.

Summer is that witty and clever friend that always makes you giggle like a pudgy kid at an all you can eat buffet, no matter what kind of mood you’re in. You love it when you realize it’s coming, and feel sad to say goodbye.

Fall reminds me of that oh-so-special friend that always has the right words to say, encourages your heart and sends you notes in the mail just because. It’s always hard to see fall go.


Winter is that lunatic friend you have that you love to death and also drives you batty half the time. There are so many great things about winter, but for all the great things there are also extremes in the opposite direction and you sometimes just want to scream.

As I sat and thought about this, I realized that much to my active state of denial, I’m getting old. I never used to think of winter this way, and now I almost dread it coming as much as I dread the dentist. Those who know me well, will tell you that I’m fairly convinced dentists were one of the plagues in Egypt.

The older I get, the more I understand why elderly people move to Florida or Arizona, and away from the bitter cold winters of Canada.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Proof it really happened

What you are about to witness, is a pictorial account of what I described on Day 3 of our vacation. Essentially, this is the frame by frame evidence showing whyyou should NEVER run down a sand dune, with Kevin "Bulldozer" Rolfe. The red arrow in the picture below indicates my general location after less than 6 feet from the starting line (you can click any of them to enlarge):

At the top of the world, in more ways than one

Ruth gets the first headstart

Samuel gets the second headstart

after jumping the bushes, Kev knocks me into the trees - that flesh colored lump in the shrubs, is me

The race is on! (I'm still in the tree)

Gpa gains on Samuel

Kev cheats! and takes the shortcut

Ruth leaves them all in her dust... er... sand?

Ruths runs as fast as her little legs can carry her, as the old guys catch up to her (yep, I'm still in the tree, and none of them even knew it!)

Here they come!!

Gpa takes the lead

the Wife Tossing Tree Thumper/ShortCut Taking Cheater Man comes out of nowhere and takes the lead

resting at the finish line (I'm out of the tree now, limping down the dune with a goose egg on my shin)

they come looking for me when they realized I never came down with them

I don't remember what I was saying, but Tree Tosser was clearly denying it with great gusto

Next year... he's going down. If I have to trip him, he is going down. Oh yes.



Yesterday, four different people, at four different times & situations made comments to me about poetry. I suppose that has everything to do with why this was on my mind when I woke up from a nap today with a brutal headache:

To tell a joke and hear no one laugh
Make a fine point and silence fills your ears
You see yourself walking away, and she can’t hear you calling her back
She didn’t hear because you didn’t call
You’re sure you did, you’re sure you thought it hard enough
What you say matters only in the recesses of your mind
Reordering thoughts – clearing away randomness
Making things matter on the inside
Business as usual on the outside
Voiceless you in a deafening sea of silence
It’s not supposed to matter
And yet it does
Someday it wont

I never said I was a poet, but there's a weird one for ya.

Summer Trip 2007: Day Four

Thursday, July 26 - clear & sunny, high of 85

Time to go home. :-( After an early morning coffee down at the water

Kev & Samuel

Then an early morning swim for Rachel


We were all packed up and saying our goodbyes at 9:45 am.

Jordan and her new friend

We're sure going to miss this place!

Of course there was the obligatory pre-highway Tim Hortons run where in-van photography is always a hit:

our driver, Kev

Me, and some goofball from the back seat

and then we were headed for home. We had a perfectly uneventful trip home, and made a stop at The Big Apple (which is exactly what it sounds like, a great big apple on the side of the highway) and Kev broke down and bought a pie. You know, if there were a village filled with people like Kev, you could use pie as your secret weapon and take down the village in a matter of moments. You wouldn't even need forks.

Anyway, it was a perfect vacation, with perfect weather, fantastic scenery, well behaved kids 99.99% of the time (when Ruth finally outgrows her drama queen phase, there will be much rejoicing in the land!) and we are sure glad to have had the opportunity to do this.

Merland ParkBefore I close my Summer 2007 Vacation Log, I really have to put a plug in for Merland Park Cottages, in Picton Ontario. If you're anywhere near the area (and we're 4+ hours away) and you're looking for a fun & relaxing family vacation spot, this one is it. The cottages are clean & well stocked, the folks are friendly & helpful, they have boat rentals & fishing off the dock (and the fish are HUGE, if that matters to anyone), onsite pool & playground, and it's close to all kinds of good stuff like the Sandbanks Provincial Park, restaurants, hiking, biking & all that good stuff.

We've already inquired about a cottage rental for 2008 (and so has at least one other local blog reader!) so if you're thinking about going next summer, who knows... we might be there the same week!

You can see more of day four here, along with all the uploaded pics of Summer Trip 2007.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Looking For Jesse Imeson?

Not surprising in the least considering the nature of the case, after I posted this prayer request the other day, I've had more than a few folks coming to this blog looking for a Jesse Imeson update. Like many others I'm sure, I'm one that keeps watching the news to see that he's been caught. Latest reports are now saying he likely hasn't fled since he'd be too easy to ID, so he's more than likely hiding out somewhere, still in this area. Not a very comforting thought, to say the least. It's all speculation though, there have been no confirmed sightings of him and no one really knows where he is right now - nor have they found the truck they believe he stole.

However, for those looking for updates, I'd like to direct you here. This page is updated constantly throughout the day. What's more, you can even set up an alert (scroll to the bottom of the page) for whatever news item you like, to be delivered to your email inbox, as it happens. I have several google news alerts for various topics and they're very reliable.

There is a Redeemer

I wouldn't have known it if I hadn't read it here, but yesterday was the 25th anniversary of the Homegoing of Christian musician Keith Green. Twenty five years ago, I was a 17 yr old know-it-all with great big pipe dreams and someone who didn't know the Lord. It would be another 12 years before I came to know a redeemed life in Christ, and ever hear the name of Keith Green. Even then, the only memory I have of ever hearing his name was when I asked once "who wrote this song?" and someone told me Melody Green finished it, after her husband passed away. I'm not even sure what song that was, so last night I did a brief search for Keith Green's music. Imagine my surprise to find out that he wrote four songs that I know so well, I sing them to myself all the time, around the house:

• Oh Lord, You're Beautiful
• How Majestic Is Thy Name
• Create in Me a Clean Heart
• There Is a Redeemer

In a way, I find it sad that I didn't know he wrote those songs, but in another way I find it rather amazing that this man's music had and continues to have, such an influence on my own Christian walk, without me ever even knowing it was his music. No doubt I'm not the only person to say what an influence Keith Green had on a young Christian's life. Not only that, Oh Lord, You're Beautiful has been sung by me to all 4 of my youngest kids when they were in the crib. Something about that song always soothed them, even if I can't really sing.

It's not uncommon for me to sing a song of praise to the Lord, and find myself crying while I do it. It was only after I got saved at 29 years old, that I ever cried because I was overcome with thanks, and here are the words to one such song that often does this to me:

There is a Redeemer,
Jesus, Gods own son,
Precious lamb of God, Messiah,
Holy one

Jesus my Redeemer,
Name above all names,
Precious Lamb of God, Messiah,
Oh, for sinners slain.

Thank you oh my father,
For giving us your Son,
And leaving your Spirit,
til the work on earth is done.

When I stand in glory,
I will see His face,
And there I'll serve my King forever,
In that holy place.

Thank you oh my Father,
For giving us your Son,
And leaving your Spirit,
til the work on earth is done.

There is a redeemer,
Jesus, Gods own Son,
Precious Lamb of God, Messiah,
Holy one

Thank you oh my Father,
For giving us your Son,
And leaving your Spirit,
til the work on earth is done.

And leaving your Spirit,
till the work on earth is done.

I've often wondered if it feels like time stands still, in heaven. Or if we'll have any sense or even care about time at all, or just understand it from a completely new perspective. I wonder of Keith Green realizes he's been seeing our Saviour's face for 25 years now? I don't know, all that would only be speculative, but I do know that for the 25 years he's been in that holy place serving our King, his music on this earth has continued to point people to Christ, focus our hearts and minds on the things of God, and praise the Lord for the great things He has done.

I might not agree with every point of doctrine he held to, but I can sure say I'm thankful that this brother did what he did, with his time on this earth. That's the kind of legacy I hope to leave for my own kids someday when it's my time to go Home.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Summer Trip 2007: Day Three

Wednesday July 25 – Clear & sunny, high of 85

The day began around 6am on the pier with myself, Kev and Mr. Heron. He was gracious enough to stand around and pose while I took numerous shots of him.

Great Blue Heron

After breakfast the kids came down to the pier to discover a family of minks in the fish house. I’m not sure if more than one mink is still mink, or if that’s minks, but either way there they were. The owner of the cottages showed up with a net pole to poke around under the sinks to get them to come out. He says they have a family of them every year & they really like the fish house. I didn’t get a picture because by the time I got back down there they had already taken off.

Finally after a whole year of hearing from Kev and his dad Len about how I would be wiped out at the sandbanks, today was THE day. Boy was I ever going to show them! The way the sandbanks run works is essentially this:

You climb the incredibly steep sand dune, then on the count of 3 you all run down as fast as you can (without falling!) and race straight into the water. Sounds simple enough, right? WRONG. (Sidenote – there will be more pictures coming soon to prove every word I type here, and they will not be pretty. I did take my camera bag with me but once up there had to put it down since there is no way you can run with anything in your hands!)

The view from the bottom - yes - those are people on top of the dune

So we arrive around 11 am and except for Samuel, all the kids go with Gma Grace. They’re going to walk along the beach and we’re going to hike up the dune and meet them down the beach a little way. The hike up the dune was absolutely exhausting. It’s not the easiest thing in the world anyway to walk in sand, but to walk uphill in it, and a steep hill at that in the hot sun, was enough to make me stop once for a few seconds and wonder if I’d even make it. After I caught my breath, I finally did make it up. Whew. It was only after that hike UP, that I realized just how steep it would be coming down. I was SO ready for this, after hearing for a year from Kev’s dad such gracious and warm sentiments as “you’re goin’ DOWN” and “you’re mine, come summer of 2007”. We’re all very competitive, can you tell?

Well there we were at the top of the dune, and it was about to be every man for himself. We gave Samuel a bit of a headstart and after ready, set, go... we came flying down the hill. Kev and Len were already laughing within seconds and I made the mistake of listening to them. That's when I sustained speed wobble and went down into the sand. They were still running (you don't have much of a choice, you either run or you roll, it's that steep) and I after I got up and stopped laughing, I caught up with Samuel and we finished the race. We lost but we didn't care. Once we got to the bottom of the hill however we were informed that Grace wasn't ready with the camera so we had to do it again!

Up the dune we went, and Samuel & Ruth came this time too. At the top we pick a different spot to start the race, behind a few low shrubs. I don't know who's brilliant idea this was, but the object was to jump over the shrubs and once you land, you start running. Samuel and Ruth had a headstart and then our race was on. Ready, set, go! We all cleared the shrubs just fine, and that's where the race ended for me. After landing, Kev (who was in the middle) elbowed his poor, 64 year old dad on his right side, and then elbowed me (his dear, adoring wife) on the left side. Len kept his balance and kept running but I wasn't so fortunate. Kev elbowed me so hard that my feet left the sand and as that happened I saw a tree coming my way (technically I was heading toward the tree but that's nit picking). I knew I was going to hit so I just closed my eyes & hoped it wouldn't hurt too bad. CRACK, right into the bottom of the tree with a limb across my shin. Thankfully that & a few scratches from the branches were my only injuries and even though within seconds I had a big ole goose egg on my shin, it wasn't really that bad. It hurt, but nothing broken. So I just grabbed the camera bag & hobbled down the dune, disqualified from the race by a victory hungry weekend athlete, aka Kev. The nerve of some people!

He had no idea what he'd done and he did apologize of course, but I'm still burning his dinner for the next month, just to pay him back. That sounds fair, right? The most ironic thing of all, is that after a year of comments from his dad, Kev was the one to attempt to take us BOTH out! Some people's children, I'm tellin' ya. We will be coming back next year, and someone is going down. I wont name names but it starts with a K and ends with an evin. Ta!

After all that, we swam & played frisbee on the beach & had a late lunch. Then we headed to a roadside ice cream shop and had yummy ice cream cones then headed back to the cottage. The kids played down by the water & we relaxed on the deck.

Kev & kids at the beach

and that would be... me!

At almost sundown, we took another ferry ride so the kids could see the bay at night from a water view. A nice man on the ferry told us that the house just to the left of the ferry dock was the house that the first Canadian Prime Minister John A McDonald, grew up in. I have been able to confirm that his father worked in the mill (that still stands there) but that's as far as I've been able to confirm. In any event, it was incredible to watch the sun go down from the water.


Sunset over Picton Bay

We made a quick Tim Horton's run (well of course we did) then headed back to the cottage to watch the fireflies dance over the grass. Another most amazing day, even if I do have a Sandbanks Lump, to take home with me.

You can see the other pictures of day 3, here.

The Last Supper

Do you ever read a news story, especially one related to technology, and find yourself thinking "wow" and being amazed at where technology has taken us as a culture? Well, that happens to me now and then and it happened yesterday when I read this:

"A computer analyst claims to have discovered new images in Leonardo Da Vinci's "The Last Supper," one of the world's most loved religious paintings. But some experts were skeptical, dismissing the claim as another spin-off of Dan Brown's best-selling novel "The Da Vinci Code."Slavisa Pesci claims to have discovered new images in the 15th mural in the dining hall of Milan's Santa Maria delle Grazie church by superimposing a reverse image on the original image.When doing so, Pesci said he observed, for example, that the two figures on either end of the long table appear to become knights, and that another figure appears to be holding an infant.
"It came to mind to scan 'The Last Supper' and print it on transparent paper, then superimpose it in reverse on the original image. The result is a new painting, with other figures," Pesci said Wednesday at a news conference." (source: Analyst Sees New Images in 'Last Supper'

Now, I'm almost afraid to post this because I have no idea what will happen to my wee little site if 15 million hits show up. I have a hunch that's not going to happen so here we go all the same.

The Last Supper comparison

(Click to enlarge for the full size) I was curious as to how this was done, so I found a graphic at wikipedia and tried the little experiment myself using photoshop elements. I hadn't read the minute details of this article, or what was supposed to appear and/or in what order (left to right). Obviously, according to the details in other articles (I've still not seen the picture myself), my experiment is actually backwards. The figures that should be on the left are on the right, in my own version. Now bear in mind this was JUST messing around with transparencies, but I did find the result pretty interesting.

Please note, this is for entertainment purposes only. It means nothing whatsoever, other than technology is cool - but we already knew that, didn't we?

Friday, July 27, 2007

Summer Trip 2007: Day Two

Tuesday July 24, 2007 - Mostly cloudy am/partly cloudy pm, High of 80

We started the day by taking a nice little ferry ride on the Glennora Ferry. Before we left though, I remembered to get a shot of our cabin's entryway:

Catfish Cabin

On the other side of the ferry there were so many "historical site" signs that I lost count. One of the signs that I didn't get a picture of was for a campground that said "Family Camping Since 1783". Nope, that's not a typo, the campground has been there for 224 years. The entire area is rich in historic significance (Loyalist Parkway - check it out!) and we had a blast on the short trip across the ferry to the other side. One of the places we did stop was this old Anglican church.

Kev & Samuel on the Glennora Ferry

Historic Church


Historic Church

Historic Church

After this, we went to Sandbanks Provincial park, to the old Lakeshore Lodge. It's no longer there as it burnt down many many years ago, but the dance floor of the lodge is still there, and the foundation of some of the old lodge still stands, among bushes and tall grass.

View from the old lodge site

From the beach at the lodge:


Gpa Rolfe taking the kids on a trek along the rocks

We had a really good time there, and even though it was sort of cool & windy, we found a great spot for lunch, out of the wind.

After we left there we stopped at a place thats name is still in dispute. Gma Grace calls it "the donut factory" based on the fact that they sell some pretty fantastic donuts, freshly made on site. Gpa however, calls it Lakeshore Farms Market. I'm going to opt for calling it the donut factory, it just rolls off the tongue much easier.

When we got back to the cottage, Gpa's 2 sisters & sister in law arrived to celebrate his birthday with us. It's been many years since I've seen them and the first time Ruth has ever met them. At some point in the conversation (and there were lots and lots of laughs) Kevin's aunt Linda mentioned that she'd heard lyme disease symptoms resembled common cold symptoms. Before she could finish her point (and her reason for mentioning it) her husband Gord interjected that there'd been recent sightings of a cougar in the area. It was just so out of the blue, suddenly the conversation turned and the whole moral of the story was that there was a sneezing cougar in the area, with lyme disease. It doesn't sound so funny hearing it second hand, it was definitely a "you had to be there" conversation, but some of us were laughing so hard at the comments being made that our faces were hurting. Gpa Rolfe and I briefly discussed a plan to make cougar & sneezing sounds when Kev was outside that night (just to scare him) but we scrapped that plan since we knew we'd probably laugh too hard to pull it off.

Day two was a great day. After the ferry & lunch at the old lodge site, Kev's aunts visiting, the kids also went swimming again & spent a lot of time at the docks visiting with other vacationing kids and adults who were coming back in from a day of fishing. They got a first hand look at fish cleaning too, since they have a fish house right on the dock to do that. All of them commented more than once that this was the best vacation they'd ever had. That was sure nice to hear.

It's funny how even though this is the way I grew up (always around water, going fishing, going on the Bremerton-Seattle car ferry or Bremerton-Port Orchard foot ferry), to them it was all brand new, and all very exciting.

Aside from the fact that my camera batteries kept dying on me (good thing I brought back up), it was a really good day. Kev's dad rented the cottage for us this year, and we already love it so much we've begun serious dicussion about seeing if we can save up for another trip next year to the same place. We'd love to be able to make this an annual tradition for the kids. This is the stuff amazing childhood memories is made of, and the stuff that creates some pretty strong family bonds. My own memories of childhood family trips are some of the most cherished memories I have, so I know it'll be the same for them.

End of Day 2, over Picton Bay

For more pics of day 2, go here. Day two's pictures are at the top of the album.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Urgent Prayer


While I would definitely much rather sit here tonight and unwind & relax from the exciting vacation I just had, that's a little hard to do. When we arrived home we learned that as of Tuesday evening, the OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) were issuing a very strong warning to folks in rural areas north of London (that's us). The warning is to keep your eyes peeled and your doors locked.

I've checked the news sources to verify as much as I can, and the gist of it is this:

A 22 year old man, Jesse Imeson is wanted for murder (a bartender he met last week, and an elderly couple in the farming community just west of me) and AT LARGE in my area - or so they think. The last place he was known to be, was in my general area. The police (from news reports) believe he purposely targetted the rural farmhouse to aquire their vehicle and weapons, since he knew he was already wanted for the murder of the bartender.

In any event, they haven't caught him yet and folks in my part of the country aren't too happy about that. Last I heard he will be featured on Saturday's America's Most Wanted, and this case & his profile is already up on their main page.

Yes I know this sort of thing happens in the big city all the time, and yes I know God is in complete control. Thing is, I don't live in the city for JUST this reason, and even though I know God is in control, this is still rather unsettling - especially considering this man apparently targetted a rural farmhouse (like mine) on purpose, and is likely looking for a new vehicle, since the authorities know exactly what he was last driving.

It's just all very unsettling. Please pray for the families of the people he's already killed, and that he would be caught before anyone else gets hurt?


Last night I signed up for a google alert so I'd be instantly notified of any new developments on this case. This morning the report is that 1. he's still at large and 2. they found one of the cars that was stolen, abandoned about an hour west of us. There are a lot of people in my area (farming country) that are pretty shaken up about all this - and understandably so. Crime like this just does not happen out here, and many of these folks are 3rd, or 4th generation farming families that have never locked their doors.

Thank you for your continued prayer in this situation. I'll update again as soon as I know anything else.

Summer Trip 2007: Day One

Amazingly enough, a mere 5 hours after arriving home, all the laundry is done, all the pictures are edited (out of focus & doubles nuked), dinner is over, devotion is over and the kids are in bed. Oh, and the van is already clean. I have no idea when we became so organized, but it sure worked out well.

I wasn't planning on doing this, but the thought occured to me that it would be a really good idea to log our entire trip. I had actually sat down our first night and planned to write out my thoughts on last Sunday's sermon, when my thoughts drifted and remembered the time we moved to Canada in the spring of 1998, and our oldest daughter (then 15) logged the whole trip. All the funny things that were said, all the cool things we saw, times we crossed state lines and all of that sort of thing. It was such a treat to read that whole log after we arrived in Canada, and we didn't even know she was doing it the whole time. So it occured to me, how fun it would be for us (and the kids) to do the same for them. I'm going to turn this log (it's mostly shorthand written highlights, that most people wouldn't be able to read except me) into a photo album/scrapbook. I thought I'd also share each day for the blog as well, sort of like a live-blogging after the fact - so you too can see & read where we were and what we did. So without further delay, here is our first day:

Day One - Monday July 23, 2007 - Sunny, High of 85

We had everything packed & the van loaded right on time. In fact, I mentioned to Kevin that we were so organized and prompt, that we hadn't forgotten anything, that everything was going so well, that this would be the trip where we hit a moose. Yes, I am incredibly optimistic!

We pulled out of the driveway expecting the 4 hour drive to take at least 4.5, maybe even 5, with all the pit stops we knew we'd have to make. Between all the kids and someone who shall remain nameless who refuses to not drink coffee before road trips (I'll never admit it!), we always have to stop at least two or three times in a four hour stretch. Oh, and then there's that mandatory stop along the way in which I also cannot not get myself a cafe mocha. Ahem.

Jordan & Rachel at Tim Hortons

If you zoom in on this picture, you can see where we are. This was after the insane traffic jam west of Toronto that put a 1 hour delay in our trip time. We'd heard that it was a tar truck that overturned but then later realized (by the time we go to the scene) that it was a different truck. The tar truck was headed westbound, and we were going the other way. Side note but certainly important to note: the man driving the tar truck was apparently (according to the news reports) covered in hot tar as the accident caused the stuff to pour into his cab after the truck overturned. Here's one news item about it. The man was seriously burnt and according to the latest update I could find, he's in very serious condition.

Amazingly enough, the kids do pretty good behavior-wise in traffic jams (if you've ever been stuck in one in the midday heat of 85 degrees, with a van load of kids, you already know how miserable that can get).

After that, the trip was fairly uneventful. We arrived around dinner time and had a fantastic dinner of barbequed pork chops & caeser salad. The kids played at the onsite playground while dinner was cooking, and then we all went for a quick swim a little later. It started to cloud up and sprinkle a little bit, so we headed back to the cabin and waited it out. It didn't last long, so when it cleared up again we all went down to the docks & the kids met a nice man who was there with his wife and young son, and a fishing pole.

Gone Fishin'

The fellow vacationer was nice enough to show the kids how to cast it, and gave them each a few turns. Our kids don't fish (only because we don't live within walking distance to a place to fish - or they would!) so this was their first experience with a pole, and it turns out Rachel is a natural. They all loved it, and loved being down on the docks.

We stayed down there for some time, and as you can see, it was hard to take our eyes off the water. A summer storm is a great way to get an amazing sunset, and I took multiple shots of this one.

Sunset over Picton Bay

I don't remember (I don't even think I checked the clock) what time the kids finally went to bed, but we stayed up with Kev's dad & his wife Grace and visited until around 11pm.

The fishing boats had already come in and docked so the only sounds you could hear were the gulls, terns and ducks calling out to each other, and the unmistakable sound of water lapping at the shore. It was the most peaceful and serene way to close out the evening!

One of the last thoughts I had before I zonked out, was how the setting of no phones, no computers, no tv (there was one there, but it didn't get turned on) has a completely different feel to it. Very much like the way it works when the electricity goes out and families actually sit around the candle lit table and enjoy each other's company and good conversation. It's a non-rushed feeling, a more relaxed feeling and more than likely something more families should spend more time doing - just unplugging and talking to each other without distraction.

I wrote all this with a cheap ballpoint pen on a notepad, while propped up on my bed covered by a heavy, hand-made quilt. In a room with pinewood paneled walls, in a cottage on the water. I absolutely love it here. I could easily live here year round.

Well... that was day one. Day two is much longer, and day two also has considerably more pictures to go with it. You can see the other pics of day one here. Stay tuned for day two, tomorrow, Lord willing.

After a great 5 hour drive...

we've arrived home safe & sound. I have oodles of laundry to do, a starving army to feed (but I'm sitting down with a cup of coffee first, priorities, you know?), and over 300 pictures to edit/upload. I have a suburn, cuts, bruises and scrapes and we arrived home with far more *stuff* than we left with. Like the monumentally LARGE caramel apple pie Kev had to buy on the way home. This thing is big enough to feed at least 40 people. Maybe.

I logged each day (just brief notes) from sun up to sun down & plan to write out in detail where we went, what we did, what we saw & learned. The kids declared this was the best vacation they've ever had (they're all too little to remember the 3 week road trip out west, six years ago), so I wanted to make sure I documented it all - for them - and for me too.

I've already cleared out my 115 emails & reduced that down to a very small handful of important ones (no, I have no need for online pharmacueticals, but thanks for the offer, you flakes), but it's going to take some doing to get caught up with my blog reading. Bloglines is flashing "217 new posts". Eek, and gack. That'll have to come later.

As much fun as I had (and I had tons!) I'm glad to be home. Time to rustle up some yummers for dinner. Oh, and the Alan Cairns sermons were excellent - at least parts 1 and 2, we never got a chance to hear the rest yet.

Monday, July 23, 2007

A Few Last Things Before I Go...

In just a couple of hours from now I'll be on the highway headed to the beach, and my blog hiatus will officially begin. It's not really that big of a deal, there are tons of great blogs to take up your reading time while I'm gone - and even after I get back. I did have a post in mind for this morning based on my pastor's sermon on Conquering Faith yesterday (Hebrews 11:30-40) but I never had the time yesterday to compose a coherent post based on my notes. Maybe I'll do that when I get back.

In the meantime, here are a few miscellania for you to ponder:

• Not that Phil needs my reader traffic at his blog, but you oughta read his latest on the ECM. Phil is one reason I shut down ENo. He just says it so much better than I ever did, and some of the uber-extreme pro-ECM folks don't dare leave the kind of filthy comments in his meta that they left in mine. Maybe it's because Phil is bigger than me and they're afraid of him? Maybe it's because they know his readership is astronomically insane and they'll be exposed for the potty mouth junk they say? Either way, I guess they thought it was okay to speak to me in a way they're too chicken to speak to Phil. But that has nothing to do with the post itself, so just go read it, you'll be glad you did. And when you do read it, leave him a note of thanks for having the boldness to say what needs to be said no matter who's widdle feelings get hurt by saying it. I vote we should clone Phil, right away.

Thinking of You• For those of you that noticed my store's sale banner up yonder at the top of this blog, and also recall my post about the great sale where I mentioned using the coupon for an even better deal, scratch the coupon usage suggestion. The sale doesn't work with coupons, it's just an excellent deal for a free T when you buy 3 at the regular price.

Speaking of the store, I added a new design to the Reflections Blessings Note Cards over the weekend. I took this picture not too long ago when the power went out during a vicious t-storm & I settled down in the kitchen with my Bible & kerosen lamp. I hope you like it.

24 SEASON 7 SPOILER... don't read this if you have issues with spoilers: Kev just informed me there will be a woman president on 24 this coming season. The Hebrew word for that is ACK, and the Greek word is GACK. I don't know where he read that and/or if it can be confirmed (and I'm too lazy to check) but it sure opens up a big ole can of worms now, doesn't it? Well okay, it's just a show that we can't even see for another 5 months!, but still. It's hard to even think of 24 right now since there's generally several feet of snow on the ground & temps are hovering around a balmy minus 20 when that show begins in January. Brrr... bring on the low 80's the weatherman promised for this week!

• Speaking of Kev, he had me burn a series of messages for our trip today (it's a 4 hour drive) from Dr. Alan Cairns titled "The 'I Ams' of Christ. The messages are here. I like his preaching quite a bit and I'm looking forward to hearing this series. You should listen to it as well and we can compare notes when I get back. I wanted to burn some music too and some John MacArthur but we ran out of blank cds. Aint that just the way it works? Oh well, I'll be blessed by this series I'm sure of it.

• I read the other day that the Challies family will also be away at the beach this week. Now wouldn't that just be a hoot if our family and his family met up at the same beach? It's sort of funny though how nonCanadians often assume if you're in Canada you know someone they know, in Canada. "Say, do you know So and So in Quebec?" I'm not sure why nonCanadians think that way, but it makes me laugh as much as hearing the border guards stories about southern US visitors who show up at the border in July with snow skis on their car. Yes, that really is a true story. In any event, I seriously doubt we'll run into the Challies clan, but there really aren't that many sandy beaches in Ontario, so you never know. If we do happen to see them, I'm sure there will be pics.

• Speaking of Canoodia, if you're anywhere near the GTA (and if you are, you already know that means Greater Toronto Area) you really should consider registering for the fall Sola Scriptura conference in Scarborough.

Topic: Christianity - Islam: Two Faiths! Two Worldviews! - One God?
Speakers: Dr. Michael Haykin, Dr. James White and Thabiti Anyabwile

We'll be registering for the conference when we get back at the end of the week. If you're in the area and you're going, it might be fun to meet up with you there, like we did at last years's conference in Toronto. We had the pleasure of having lunch with & meeting for the first time in person, several Toronto area bloggers and James White as well. It was a lot of fun and the day went way too fast. (This year, I'm making Kim come too, no excuses!) Oh, and if that website above has a familiar design look to it, it's because Tim Challies redesigned it for them last year. I'm tellin' ya, he's everywhere! ;-)

umm... okayAnd with that, I have some last minute packing to do, a bit of laundry to fold, a dog to yell at & other last minute things before we hit the highway. I hope you have an incredibly wonderful week, and post lots of funny things in the comments while I'm away, so I can sit here and laugh like this kid, when I return. HT: Pecadillo. It kills me every time I go to his blog and see this picture, so I lifted it from him. Don't tell him, he might arrest me and I'm not a big fan of jails!

See ya!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Fairest Lord Jesus

Okay so I'm only partially hiatusing at this point. After tomorrow morning however, that'll switch over to full on hiatus & you wont hear from me for a while.

Last night I was thumbing through one of our hymnals looking for a new song for tonight. We're sort of skipping around right now and singing a different song (or songs) every night. Songs that we've learned before, but maybe haven't sung in a while. One that I came across (and picked for tonight) was Fairest Lord Jesus. Here are the words:

Fairest Lord Jesus, Ruler of all nature,
O Thou of God and man the Son,
Thee will I cherish, Thee will I honor,
Thou, my soul’s glory, joy and crown.

Fair are the meadows, fairer still the woodlands,
Robed in the blooming garb of spring;
Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer,
Who makes the woeful heart to sing.

Fair is the sunshine,
Fairer still the moonlight,
And all the twinkling starry host;
Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines purer
Than all the angels heaven can boast.

There are two other verses to this hymn but we've never learned them and never sing them. I'm not sure why, I guess that just falls into the category of tradition and what we're comfortable with.

you can almost hear the sounds of a running brook... can't you?The aspect of this hymn that really stood out to me the first time I'd ever heard it, was the comparison between Jesus and the beauty and awesomeness of nature - God's creation. Because I love being outdoors and being in His creation (far more than being in the concrete jungle), this really impacted me.

Have you ever been in the woods in the spring when the sun's rays are filtering through the branches right down to the forest floor? If not, I assure you it's a most stunning sight. It's storybook beautiful.

Have you ever stood in awe as you gazed into the sky on a dark summer night? It often seems the longer you look, the more stars appear and the more amazingly it really is to observe that canopy of twinkling light covering our night sky.

I have to wonder if the significance of this comparison (Jesus to nature) is lost on our generation? According to cyberhymnal.org, the words to this hymn were written by German Jesuits in the 17th century and translated to English in 1873 by Lutheran pastor Joseph August Seiss, who lived in Philadelphia. The German countryside in the 17th century however was a time and a place so incredibly different than the one we live in now. The German landscape would have looked almost nothing like what it does today. More people in that day, would have understood this comparison than would today. We live in a time when it seems more people than ever live in crowded cities and have never taken the time (or have never enjoyed) to be away from those cities and spend quality time in God's creation. If that describes you, I can't encourage you enough to get out of town and spend some relaxing time being in His beautiful world - and not the man-made world.

The significance however of the comparison of Jesus to nature, is pretty astounding. As beautiful and breathtaking, awesome and amazing, stunning and striking as nature really is, Jesus outshines it all. He is fairer, He is purer, He is far more worthy of our attention than anything nature can offer in terms of lovliness to gaze upon.

It's a wonderful hymn to sing, and a precious reminder of just how awesome He really is. I'm glad my skimming stopped on this one last night, it's been too long since we've sung this as a family. Maybe you'd like to print the words and sing this with your family tonight, as well?

Saturday, July 21, 2007


So then. How in the world do you express your thoughts about something so empty, so trivial and such an unbalanced obsession by some, that you don't offend anyone? I don't think it's possible. So let me just say this right off the bat, my purpose is not to offend you, but to blog a point that has bothered me for a long time.

Of course what I refer to is Potter Mania. Before I begin my rant however, let me offer a few insights into what I'm not about to say:

1. I'm not going to say that I don't understand enjoying a good book, a good story, or the excitement that comes from being around other folks that enjoy your passion for either.
I'm a 24 fan, we all know this. I have fun talking with fellow 24 fans about the characters on the show, the story lines, and speculating about season 7. It's a fun pasttime, and it's fun to have a hero-figure even if he is fictional (I can only say that because I know for a fact, Jack Bauer does not read my blog - because if he did - well... it'd be curtains for me. However, if he did, it'd be cool to see him wearing one of my 24 t-shirts!)
2. I'm also not about to say that Christians can't find entertainment in what we'd call non-Christian things. Let's just be honest about this kids, JK Rowlings does not spin her tales for the glory of God. Her books, contrary to some people's desperate attempt to claim otherwise & therefore justify their reading of them, simply are not written to glorify the Lord. They just aren't, no matter how anyone wants to try and spin it. With that said however, I'm not about to say that as a Christian I can't (or shouldn't, necesarrily) read a Potter book (or watch a Potter movie) or any other sort of secular entertainment such as going to a ball game, renting an action packed dvd, or listening to a classic rock tune from the late 60's. We all do it in some sort of context and the key point here is honest discernment. We simply have to be honest with ourselves and ask "am I spiritually mature enough to enjoy the talent/story/pasttime/whatever, without it causing sinful thoughts, words or actions?" That's a tough question and one I think we each need to ask ourselves a lot more often. I know for me, as much as I love the musical genius that came out of the 60's & 70's, there are some songs I just can't listen to because the sheer ungodliness of the lyrics completely overshadow the talent of the singer/band.
3. I'm also not about to say that you should not read this book or see the movie when it comes out (or read or watch any of the books or movies prior to this one). I have in fact seen all the Potter movies. I often watch movies like these because the special fx are just incredibly cool to me. I will say though that 10 years ago as a young believer, I wouldn't have been able to watch a movie like that, or read a book about wizardry and magic. I was too immature in the Lord to be able to handle such things and it would have only caused a spiritual struggle within myself. I dabbled (slightly, did a lot of reading & pondering, but that was enough) in the occult when I was younger and the Potter themes bring a lot of that out. On the flip side to this I will say however, that if you are spiritually mature to handle this stuff, bear in mind that not everyone else is, and you going on and on (and on) about it, may cause a weaker brother to stumble, so you'd be wise to exercise your maturity and discernment on that one.

Okay, now that we got that part out of the way, I shall begin my own tale of intrigue and mystery, good v. evil and cliffhanger plotlines. On second thought, no I wont. I'll just rant - that's much easier.

Reading a FOX news article on Pottermania today, I couldn't help but be struck with the insanity of obsession over empty things.

• One man flew his entire family from AZ to the UK, all of them showing up in costume of course, to be among the crowd at the hot UK shop selling the book.

• Two 20 yr old young ladies screamed, hugged, touched and smelled their new books, as if they were holding babies. (I'm not making this up kids, read the article for yourself).

• Another man actually risked his very life by plunging into freezing water to retrieve a bookstore voucher that he had dropped.

In another article (there have been numerous news items on this in the last week or so) a 17 yr old girl who's been a Potter fan since the age of 9, hassled her mother enough that she finally gave in and flew the girl to London from Michigan for the book release. Of course she showed up in a homemade black cloak lined in Slytherin green. Who wouldn't, really?

What struck me about this in particular, is the obsession. Oh I already know that any Potter fan would immediately deny that they're obsessed, but let's get real. When you create a home made cloak & line it with Slytherin green, you're obsessed. When you spend the kind of money required to fly from the US to the UK to buy a book (that you could have bought in the US), you're obsessed. When you risk your life or fondle a book like a precious delicate child, you're absolutely obsessed. Creepy obsessed, in fact.

I couldn't help but wonder, what the world would look like if suddenly Christians became so excited and on fire for the Lord Jesus Christ, that FOX news couldn't keep up with the events taking place all over the world that were based on the flood of evangelistic efforts of believers. In other words, what would it look like to see followers of Jesus act towards Him, the way followers of Potter act towards him? I've always wondered why we (believers) don't get as pumped up for the Lord as sports fans do in sports arenas, when there is so much MORE to be excited about.

I also couldn't help but wonder why Christians would jump on this Pottermania bandwagon. Now please remember my 3 points up yonder. I get why folks enjoy it, I get why folks buy it/read it/watch it. I get that they're spiritually mature enough to do that. I'm most likely going to rent the dvd when it comes out, just like we did the others. I'm sure I'll probably enjoy the special fx even if I don't like some of the storyline. I get all that.

What I don't get is when Christians get so jazzed over something so not important. I mean really, in the grand scheme of things, Potter is about as important as dryer lint, or that plastic liner in a cereal box, or split ends. So is 24 for that matter, and I hope I've never pushed it so much that it makes people go "she's a nutbag". Honestly, I've wondered about some of the Christian websites out there so completely bonkers over this book series. Generally, I just click right past them because to me, it's a creepy and unbalanced obsession with the trivial things of the world.

I would like to draw your attention to something I have found useful though. Colin Smith, one of the TeamApologian brothers has come up with a pretty nifty way to evangelize utilizing Pottermania. I know it sounds questionable to some of you, but I assure you this is a solid brother. You ought to head over to aomin.org and see what he's got to offer. Check out what Colin has to say:

"Over the next week or so, you, or your child, might find yourself in (or close to) conversations around the book series and the events of the final installment. I thought it would be both timely and useful (and, let's face it, fun!) to present a way in which the Christian--regardless of whether he or she has actually read the books--might use such conversations as a means of bearing witness to Christ. If you understand the presuppositional approach to apologetics, you will already be familiar with the method I am proposing to use. If not, may this serve as an introduction to the method, and for further study I recommend you spend $4 on the mp3s of the Greg Bahnsen-Gordon Stein debate on the existence of God from Covenant
Media Foundation
. :-) In these blogs, I will be presenting passages from the first six Harry Potter books and demonstrating how it depends on a Christian worldview; in other words, Harry Potter could not have been written without assuming Christian presuppositions." - Colin Smith: Harry Potter meets Cornelius Van Til: Part One

There. Now that I've offended every Christian Potter fan, I can have my hiatus. Yep, I'm going to hiatus all over the place, starting today.

I'm not really here, I'm busy & stuff

Okay, if Frank can take a hiatus that is not a hiatus, I can do this too. So neener on hiatusing. Is that a word? If it wasn't before, it is now. I get to make up words, because it's my blog and I can do that. The thing is, I had no intention of posting again today but I just can't let this go.

--- First of all, my store newsletter that normally goes out to the 450+ subscribers every Friday morning, did not go out. Not because I didn't send it, but because there was another glitch in the software or some other high-tech noogie that doesn't make sense to me. If you're one of those 450, and didn't see it today in your inbox, that's why. In any event, the newsletter IS online and you can see it here.

New Life--- Secondly, one of the new designs didn't make it into the newsletter (because I created it today, and the newsletter actually went into the hopper last night!) This is it. Inspired by a sleezy, worldly t-shirt I saw today with some sort of lame message about beer or something equally as useless. The design was classic and sharp, but THIS message is way better. So neener #2 - this neener on sleezy t-shirts being trumped by awesome Christian t-shirts. My t-shirt can beat up your t-shirt, and it has a life changing message too! (Great convo starters, so don't wear one if you don't want people asking you what that verse says, because they will, and then you'll have to talk to them about new life in Christ. Hmmm... now there's an idea!)

Buy 3 - Get 1 FREE

--- Third, my t-shirt supplier decided to wait until AFTER I sent the newsletter (that didn't go out) to tell me that there's a SUPER DUPER sale starting tonight at midnight Pacific coast time - and only running for a limited time. Here's the juicy details:

Promotion Offer: Buy 3 T-Shirts and Get 1 T-Shirt FREE*
No coupon needed.
Starts: July 21, 2007 at 12:01 am PT

This is a LIMITED TIME OFFER! Limited to one free shirt per order, free shirt must be of equal or lesser value as purchased shirts and cannot exceed a retail price of USD $30.00. Promotion cannot be combined with any other offers or bulk order discounts. Shirt sales subject to this promotion are not eligible for refunds, exchange only. Eligible free shirts are limited to Jr. Raglan, Jr. Ringer T-Shirt, Jr.Spaghetti Tank, Jr. Jersey T-Shirt, Baseball Jersey, T-Shirt, Kids Baseball Jersey, Ringer T-Shirt, Men's Sleeveless Tee, Long Sleeve T-Shirt, Fitted T-Shirt, Organic Cotton Tee, Value T-Shirt, Women's CapSleeve T, Women's Long Sleeve T-Shirt, Women's Tank Top,Women’s T-Shirt, Women's V-Neck T-Shirt, Women's Plus Size Scoop Neck T-Shirt, Women's Plus Size V-Neck T-Shirt, and Maternity T-Shirt, subject to availability. This promotion is available for a limited time and may be cancelled or changed at any time for any reason, without notice. Void where prohibited.

Okay, no coupon needed but be sure to USE one of the coupons in the sidebar under the coupon corner button at the store to get even a better deal when you order. We have a sale like this about once a year, so get in on this while you can, because it's a LIMITED TIME sale. Think: Christmas shopping in July! And this would be neener #3 - on paying full price for great t-shirts when you can buy 3, and get one FREE.

So there ya go. Off with you, you have some Christmas shopping to do. Right?

Friday, July 20, 2007

Recipe for Extreme Frustration

Take 1 part dial up, add equal parts of Windows Vista and IE7. Sit and wait. Wait some more. Reload, refresh, reboot and wait some more.

Ever since we moved to the country and moved from high speed cable to dial up access, life online took a turn for the slow. When I say slow, picture cold molasses in Alaska, in the dead of winter - slow. They say country living is a slower pace, but I have a hunch this is not what they had in mind.

The fact that everything online has switched over in the last several years to accomodate high speed access users has pretty much left us dial up folks in the ancient past. Youtube & downloading larger files takes forever, and for that reason I rarely do either. You can use one of the "accelerators" but from what I understand all they really do is squish graphics so the pages load a little faster. My dial up service has one built in, and it does make a difference when I use it, but it actually makes it more problematic for uploads or downloads, so I have to turn it off when I'm doing that.

Ever since I upgraded to IE7, I've had nothing but problems. A few months ago we re-did the deal with Dell and since all they have on their new systems is Vista, that's what we got. BLECH! I don't know if it's just Vista, or the combo of Vista and dial up and IE7 (or some variation thereof) but it's been a monumental headache. IE7 crashes constantly, and usually when I'm in the middle of something important that hasn't been saved yet.

So, on the advice of everyone in the free world, I downloaded Firefox. Did it make a difference? No it did not. In fact, sometimes it seems much slower using Firefox.

All this to say, my online experience is finally and genuinely getting on my last nerve.

Of course the news is not all bad, there are some pretty nifty bells and whistles with Vista, IE7 and Firefox, but the bugs with Vista and IE7 and the fact that I'm on dial up with any of them makes the bad outweigh the good. I check at least once every couple of months to see if there is an alternative out here in the middle of nowhere, and the answer is still no - unless I want to pay upwards of $350 bucks for the survey, install & equipment for some fancy dan high tech service being offered - and all that without any guarantee that we have a clear signal out here from the tower (survey fee is non-refundable, but thanks for coming out).

So yes I'm cranky and crabby. Yes I'm complaining and yes I'm whining. What probably takes you 5 minutes to do online, can take me over an hour, and that's IF the browser doesn't crash and IF I'm not suddenly disconnected from my ISP, which also happens at least 5 times a day (sometimes much more, and it just happened while composing this, which really does make me grateful for blogger's new auto-save every few minutes - it's saved me more times than I can count).

For that reason, I'm going to take a bit of a break. It's not going to fix anything while I'm gone, but it might fix my attitude. I'm going to spend an ample amount of time this weekend getting stuff done in and around my house, and then on Monday I'm leaving for the beach for the week. I expect to have tons and tons of pictures when I get home - that will take forever to upload but that's not the point.

I might pop in once or twice more before I leave, but if not I hope you all have a super-fantastic weekend, and coming week.

Make sure you leave me TONS of comments while I'm gone so that I feel loved and appreciated and all that stuff that us overly emotional & tempermental women are prone to experiencing. You may even discuss pteradactyls & schmeradactyls if you like. If you don't know what those are, you missed a most entertaining comment party when Phil was gone from blogging once.

And now, I'm off. God's best blessings to you!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

New In Store

I've been busy this week having some fun. I've gone through some of my most favorite photographs that I've taken over the last few years, and turned them into great little note cards. Here's a sample:

Reflections Blessings Note Cards

You can see all 13 different cards, right here.

What it's REALLY like to be a SuperHero Mom

So, I'm playing basketball in my kitchen last night (because that's what you do when you're waiting for the chicken in the oven to finish cooking, right? And yes, I really do have a hoop and a ball in my kitchen, like you don't?) and the thought occured to me for the clumpteen trillionth time, that parenting is the most emotionally exhausting thing a person can ever do in their lifetime. Ever!

I cannot speak for Dads, because I'm a mom. I cannot speak for men, because I'm a woman. I can only speak from a mother's perspective and I can tell you from this mother's perspective, it's a most taxing (and astoudingly joyful, all at once) thing to be a mother.

When they're little and they find themselves in a situation that is clearly over their heads, even while they might not be mature enough to reason it out, they know they want mom to rescue them and make everything better again. A scraped knee, a lost truck, a popped balloon, a sibling looking at them, a bee sting, a headless Barbie... whatever it happens to be, mom becomes the SuperHero that fixes whatever goes wrong. While all of our kids have different personalities, and some of them might not resort to calling on SuperMom all that often, some other kids might do it so much that eventually SuperMom wishes they'd start taking charge of their own issues and stop wanting her to fix everything. Of my seven kids I have both of those personality types and several in-betweeners.

It's not an easy thing for SuperMom to find her own balance in all of this. While you certainly don't want to be rescuing them for their whole lives, you also don't want to push them too far, too soon. You want them to figure out how to get that tricky fitted sheet on that mattress and do it on their own, but you know that sooner or later you're going to have to step in and hold the one corner down, before they start crying because their skinny little arms aren't strong enough to perform that tricky manuever. Sooner or later they're going to figure it out, and you'll no longer have to show up to save the day from the bed-making crisis.

That's when they're little though. Around the age of twelve, things start getting a little strange. The idea that you once had when they were five, and hoping they'd figure things out on their own, is actually beginning to come to pass. Except not exactly in the way you'd hoped, often times.

Somehow in their pre-teen minds they begin to figure out that they're not little kids anymore, and adulthood is not that far away. Half the time they want to be treated like a "big kid" and the other half they still act like they're five. This is the age they begin to spread their wings and test out the air. It can be a pretty rough flight, for some kids.

I was talking with a dear friend last night about our older teens and I mentioned that it's so hard to watch them make such stupid mistakes. And watch, is really all we can do. You can tell them the right thing to do, you can show them, send smoke signals or act it out via interpretive dance, but by now you already know that they're not listening to you. Oh they hear you allright (and when they're in their 20's they'll tell you they heard you, you just wait and see), but often they are not listening, and there is a world of difference between hearing and listening. This is the age when they semi-appreciate your wisdom thank you very much, but are determined to do things their own way, and flex their own adult-decision-making muscles. In many cases they remind me of little birds that try to fly out of the nest before they're ready. Some make it okay, others are lunch for hawks. It can be a pretty tense time for a lot us, either going through it, or being the parent of the one going through it.

One day many years ago when I was trying to impart my vast wisdom to my then 15 yr old daughter, I appealed to her logical side. I know, 15 yr olds and logic seems like an oxymoron to most of you, but my daughter was pretty sharp and analytical, so I used it. Hey, us SuperMoms have to collect our tricks where we can, right? We save them up in our invisible Trick Bag and use them on the next kid. It's pretty economical that way. Well, except when you whip out a particular trick that you're quite fond of and they roll their eyes because they've already heard that one before, used on the sibling(s) older than them. That's when you have to get uber-creative and find new tricks.

I explained to her that while I obviously did not know everything, like duh, hello?, I had the jump on her based on age. Just like she did, over someone ten years younger than her. She agreed that someone five years old wouldn't have as much life experience as she did, at 15. So then I tried to show her from that illustration that her mom, who had lived twice as long as she had by that time, had far more life experience than she did. She wasn't happy about affirming that but she had no choice. Logic wins every time! The problem with that however, comes back down to the difference between hearing and listening. One is recognizing audible instruction, the other is genuinely considering and heeding what was said. Sometimes they do the former, and completely disregard the latter.

It's not always a complete disaster when our teenagers ignore our sound advice. Sometimes the choices they make might seem disasterous at first, but then God's providential hand turns things to their benefit. Sometimes He lets them fall flat on their face too, and those are the hardest times for a mother to have to watch. Even a super hero cries when her mini-super-hero people fall down.

Through it all, is an astounding amount of prayer. We pray for them that if they don't yet know the Lord Jesus Christ that He might be pleased to bring them to genuine faith and repentance. We start that prayer generally around the time we learn we're expecting, and we keep praying it until there is no longer a need to. Aside from that, we pray that He might grant them wisdom, and humility to make the right choices, and then surround them with people who will also assist in guiding them - people that they will listen to, and Godly people who are worth listening to. We all know how easily our kids are influenced and there is no shortage of pure, rancid trash out there ready to come flying out of the mouths of people who really should just shut up. Those are the people we pray would be far removed from our kid's maturity experience.

We pray for ourselves that we would be the most amazing mother ever in the history of all mothers, all the while knowing full well exactly where we fall short. We pray that we might be a vessel of grace, a good example of patience and love, encouragement and conviction. We pray and we pray and we pray some more. Who and what they see (and hear) in us, makes a world of difference in who they'll become as they grow up, and we know that.

It's hard work being a SuperHero Mom. You can't just lock them all in the basement & toss down a roast once a week (as alluring as the suggestion might sound), as they hit the teen years. You have to stay firm in your convictions with raising them to be Godly people, but you also have to stand back and watch when they mess up really really bad. You don't have a choice in the matter because unlike when they were five and ran to you with expectations that you'd fix their wee little crisis, they no longer run to you, and in fact sometimes push you away. That's a really hard one, even for the coolest of SuperMoms.

So you pray, you talk to them, you reason with them, you pray some more, you encourage them in their great choices, and you spend a good deal of time venting to your best friends who've either already gone through it, or are still going through it themselves. You do that because even in the world of SuperHero Moms, iron indeed doth sharpen iron. And... we pray for each other too, make each other laugh, and remind each other that this too shall pass - and hopefully with amazing results by the time they are adults themselves.

Yep, that's what it's really like to be a SuperHero Mom. It's not such a glamorous profession, but the longer we do it the more tricks we collect and hopefully, and prayerfully, the more grace we have to actually use those tricks, effectively.

And yes, I really do have a hoop and ball in my kitchen. It's one of the tricks, believe it or not, and the way it works is pretty simple: it's a tension cutter. It works beautifully. You should all have one in your kitchen too.