Monday, October 29, 2007

This is Classified!

kajiji Have you ever used this service? I hadn't, until today. I'd seen the ad for it in several places but like most people my eyes are trained to ignore sidebar or header ads, unless I'm specifically looking for a recommendation.

Well today I was looking, and was pleasantly surprised with what I found here at There's also a kajiji for the US and numerous other countries as well. It may not even be new to you, but it's new to me, and it's VERY cool.

I've looked at classifieds online before but this one is really good. Its very easy to get around, very easy to search for exactly what you're looking for, and where you're looking for it. Not only that, but if you have stuff to sell, you can list your own ads for FREE. Oh yes, I have tons of stuff to sell, so I'll be listing lots of things very soon.

Anyway, if you've tried online classifieds before and it left a bad taste in your mouth - try this one and see if it doesn't change your mind. You list your stuff (or do your searching) in your own locality, and all transactions are handled face to face (no online buying). I've already found several things that are on our "we need a new one of those" list, and I'm planning to make this a regular part of my weekly routine, to check out. Some things listed are used of course, other things are new, and the prices aren't ridiculous like many classified ad listings. I can't say enough good things about it, so you just run along now and go see it for yourself.

By the way, I'd love to hear what YOU think of it, so please do leave a comment after you look around!

A Seasonal Musing

I sure like this time of year. There's just something exhilerating about the seasonal shift and the vibrant color change. Part of what factors into this is also the "newness" with the start of the school year, and the anticipation that begins as so many look forward to the winter holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas. For me personally, I love October because lots of good things have happened in my life, in the month of October. I don't know if other people really pay attention to that sort of thing, but I've got my "really good stuff" month, which is October, and my "really bad stuff" month, which is February. For whatever reason, that's just the way it is. Life's little hallmark moments, I suppose.

For all the good things October and fall in general bring with it, both generally and personally, I had one of those "de ja vue" moments just briefly yesterday, about a time when I was young. It was October and I'd just gone through a particularly bad thing. In fact, it was the most emotionally traumatic thing I'd ever gone through, in all my 16 years of life up until that point, and like many 16 year old girls, I reacted with some pretty heavy-duty emotion. Rather than pulling up my socks and getting on with the business of life, I wallowed in self-pity and hurt for about a week. I purposely went for walks on cold, windy, rainy days, just to be miserable in the rain. I listened to a "power ballad" by my favorite secular band, over and over and over. I wanted to feel like roadkill, I wanted to cry, and I wanted to just be miserable. I felt like I was entitled to it. Therefore, miserable I was, cry I did, and wallowing in self-centeredness and self-pity was the name of the game for about a week. I only got over it when I realized my friends had stopped calling because they were tired of hearing me carry on about it. When you're 16, I guess compassion only goes so far before you get really tired of someone blubbering all the time about "poor me".

What struck me about remembering this yesterday is the idea that we're somehow entitled to feel and express that we're hurting. Now please don't misunderstand, when I say that I mean in an over the top, "what about ME, what about MY needs!?" sort of demanding way, without any real desire or implication that the person wants to do anything but go on about how miserable they are. We all go through difficult times, and it's a Biblical thing to express our burdens to those closest to us so that they can help us get through them. It's certainly not a bad thing, to let it be known that we're hurting, if we do it in the right way, and for the right reasons. What I'm referring to however is the next step beyond that, that leads directly into the "poor poor me, everyone feel sorry for me" mode, where folks tend to wallow in their misfortune or difficult circumstances. The pharmacuetical companies are unfortunately raking in the cash, due to people just like that. Some of these folks are on medications for this stuff, for years and years on end. Problem is, it never gets better for many of those people because the little pills they take don't allow them to get better, they only mask the pain, for a time.

There are all sorts of things we all deal with in life that hurt, and hurt real bad. The death of a loved one, divorce, betrayal, financial disaster, spiritual rebellion among children, etc. so on and so forth. None of these things are easy, and they all take the right approach to working through them, working through our own emotions and emotional reactions to them. For the believer also, a monumental amount of prayer for wisdom and guidance. With time and by God's mercy and grace, we get through them and we get back to the business of life and the business of living.

I have a close family member going through one of those "life's difficult seasons" and it's a most miserable thing for them. They don't want to be there, they didn't do anything to put themself there, and they desperately want to move beyond the pain and get back to the business of life, and the business of living (instead of just existing). I only wish I had a magic wand that could take all the hurt and pain away for this person. I certainly don't recommend walks in the rain and power ballads that only make you feel worse, for what you've lost. I certainly don't recommend the advice of pop-pyschology that tells us we're entitled to feel like garbage and we should desire to stay there for a while and wallow in it, and or pump us full of medications that make us feel better (see Pulpit Magazine's post today about a most important aspect of this)

Does it hurt straight to the center of our being, when we're betrayed? Of course it does. It also takes some time to deal with it, and to get from "there" to beyond "there". But the desire to stay in misery, to remain hurting, to continue to feel sorry for one's self is really nothing more than the sin of pride (it's all about me after all, isn't it?), and selfishness. Ironically, it is often the sin of pride and selfishness of another person, that may have set the wheels in motion for you to be in this circumstance to begin with.

Getting on with the business of living, the business of life, being a blessing to those around you... that's much more preferable than the alternative.

Yes, life IS hard, and yes, God IS good.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Saturday, in the rain...

Squirrely NeighborsToday was a super busy day, but a really good day.

We went to Kim and Neil's today & spent the whole day with them, virtually kid-free!

This little guy greeted us when we pulled into their driveway. Not the least bit shy, he posed for his picture even though he was clearly having a bad fur day.

He was drenched from the drizzling rain.

What have they done to poor Sally!?

This is Kim and Sally.

Neil was gardening one day last month and accidentally mixed the Miracle Gro with the Alpo, and this was the result.

Just kidding This is Yoshi, Neil's parent's dog. I think that makes him Kim's Dog-in-Law? I'm not a big fan of dogs that are so big they can eat you in less than three gulps, so Neil's dad had to contain him for me.

They all say he's very friendly, but I was taking any chances. Yes, I'm a giant chicken!

Pretty Trees
I didn't get the full scope of the way this really looked, but the fall color of all the various trees at Neil's parents house was just incredible.

From their kitchen window there's this incredible view of the trees and today with the wind blowing it looked like it was snowing leaves.

A really beautiful area where they live, and they're also proud Canadians, as you can see by the flag.

Accessories really make the whole outfit :-)
After a long day of hard work (okay it wasn't really that hard to sit with Kim's gracious and hospitable mother-in-law in the comfort of her dining room, and discuss church related subjects - but the guys worked outside in the wind and the rain, and the mud... hauling, splitting and loading wood, and they were VERY dirty and smelly when they were done) we went back to Kim & Neils and ate yummy coffee cake. The Shays take cliche advice very seriously ("life is short, eat dessert first!"), since we at the cake then went out for very delicious dinner.

That's not really a party hat on Kim's head, although it sure looked like one. It was the drop light in the booth behind us, but it was funny how it looked like it was balanced right on her head.

We had a wonderful time today, and we're looking forward to having their whole family over for American Thanksgiving next month.

I might even cook an American turkey, so they can see how real Americans celebrate.


you shake it... why?
Women shaking hands. A woman's handshake. Shaking a woman's hand? I couldn't come up with a catchy title for this post, so girlshake will have to do.

Do you remember the scene in the Narnia movie when Mr. Tumnus asked Lucy why people shake hands when they meet? The little girl that played Lucy had a priceless expression on her face when she replied with "I don't know". I loved that scene, from the faun asking what he was supposed to do with Lucy's extended hand, to Lucy's reply - the whole few minutes was a regular cultural/tradition kick in the pants.

Isn't that the way society works though? We just do things because that's what everyone else does, what is expected, and we never really question the purpose or the point of doing them.

A few days ago I had an appointment with a female legal professional (no, I'm not suing Kevin for beating me in online Scrabble), and when we greeted she shook my hand. When the meeting was over, she again shook my hand. She had a very firm handshake too.

I don't know how long this has been bugging me, but its been a really long time. I don't even know why it bugs me but it does! Somewhere in the recesses of my North American, western culture, Baptist, mother, radically anti-feminist brain, there is a message scrolling along a marquee banner that says:

"Handshakes are for men. Women should not greet other men or women with a handshake."

I have no idea where that thought came from, or why its there but it is. I guess something about it seems so masculine to me that it's something women just shouldn't do. Like ball players who whack each other on the rump after a good play in the game. Sure it's stupid, but it's a "guy thing" and if a woman did it it would seem downright creepy.

Now I certainly wouldn't refuse to shake a woman's hand when greeting her, because that would then make her feel uncomfortable and awkward. It's also not something that really offends me per se, it just seems so strange. I don't remember women greeting one another with a handshake when I was growing up. I don't remember ever seeing my own mom, or grandmother or aunts shaking anyone's hand. Maybe they did, but it's not something I remember. Maybe... I'm just really weird and I'm the only one that finds this strange? This is entirely possible but I would like to know what other people think.

And now... I have some chores to do before I head out to Kim's house today. I wont be shaking her hand, but I will be bringing coffee and enjoying whatever yummy thing she baked for us to snack on today.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday Stuff

Hi Kids, welcome to another edition of miscellanious thoughts, random links, free stuff and fun stuff. Your mileage may vary, batteries not included, void where prohibited by law, must be over the age of 18 to enter, skill testing question does not apply.

• Our store's weekly newsletter is online this morning. (Cat lovers wont want to miss this one!)

• Our Fall Giveaway is now on! Feel free to grab the button in the sidebar for use on your blog to tell your friends . Contrary to the rules listed at the page, IF you grab a button & link to the drawing via your blog, let me know and I'll list YOUR entry twice. Be sure to let me know where your button is so I can be sure to double-entry you! (If you tried the submit form earlier and it didn't work, its now fixed!)

• Candy says "you're the Erma Bombeck of the Calvinist set". I'll take that, she was hilarious.

• I beat Kev twice this week at Yes, I've become a daily player (and it's all Rebecca's fault)! If you'd like to play a game with me, once you register just invite me to a game via my gmail address.

• If you're looking for a Christmas gift unlike any other you've ever given, look no further than Mylo Hatzenbuler. Oh yes, the original Rock n Roll Farmboy. See the link the side bar and check out his site. You're gonna LOVE Mylo! (nope, I don't get any kind of a kickback for that plug).

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Just cool stuff

I admit, I'm a geek. I find interesting and entertaining, such things as data mining, genealogy trees, weather, statistics, birds and maps. It doesn't get much more boring than that, kids. It may be boring to most people, but I love that sort of thing.

So last night I stumbled upon this rather nifty little widget you'll see in the bottom left sidebar. It's called Feedjit, and it displays a live traffic feed. Its that simple. It'll show where visitors come from, both geographically and webographically (another new word I just made up, you like?), and what they clicked on to leave. This same info is available through most of the site stat applications, but this one is much cooler. For one, it lets you put the stats on your webpage or blog in such an easy way, most people could do it in their sleep. What's more is that its free, and you don't even have to register. A few simple customizations & snagging the html is all you do (well, and popping it into your layout where you want it). One of the other cool things about this little widget is that it comes with a google map that lets you see where your visitors are coming from. Maps! Yay for maps, yay for google. Boo for dial up, as the maps take forever to load. But yay for maps.

When the technology to view satellite maps first became availabe to John Q. Public, I was SO excited to travel the world via the comfort of my own game room. Its really just amazing the images that are out there. Unfortunately, because I am on dial up, I can't even access google earth anymore (I could when it first came out, it was slow but I could use it), as programs like this have all updated to accomodate high speed access - which leaves us dial-uppers in the dust. In any event...

this is where I am right now... literally So I'm goofing around with the map at Feedjit last night, and zoomed in as close as I could without major distortion, on my house. See the red arrow? That's pointing to my house. In front of the house, those parallel lines that run out to the road? Those are the trees that line either side of my driveway. As you can see, we're pretty far back from the road, and we really do live smack dab in the middle of cornfields. Ever see the movie Signs? Well there ya go. Thankfully we don't have aliens running around outside - just kids.

I'm not sure why (I assume it's due to satellite strength & probably a bunch of other details I'm unaware of) but the images over Canada aren't nearly as good as the images over the states.

For example, here's an image of the house I grew up in, in western WA:

the old stomping grounds

And here's the place I lived in, in Palm Springs, CA:

the place in CA

As you can see, you can zoom in much closer with US addresses. I know the arrow is pointing to the pool in the second picture, and while we did not actually live in the pool, we were in it a large part of the time.

Now at first you might think all of this is just trivial, useless information. It might be, to some people, but I see the benefit in it by being able to take my kids on a world tour, and see God's amazing world. I can show them, literally, where I grew up, places we read about in Scripture, what it looks like on Gma's street in WA, and where some of my friends and family live around the US and Canada. They can see what the oceans really look like from above, and get a more realistic picture of where we live in comparison to other places. We can even see the smoke covering southern California, in real time.

To me, this is just one seriously amazing piece of technology that can be used for good stuff.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Boo... humbug?

If I had to sum up the discussions I've had over the years about Halloween, whether online or in person, it would be impossible to make it a summary, because it would have to include most (if not all, and more) of this list:

Christians and culture.
Engaging the culture.
Divorced from culture.
Contextualing the message to impact the culture.
Cultural Christians.
Carnal Christians
Using Scripture to back any position.
"All things to all men"
"Whatever you do, do it for the glory of God"
"All things are allowable but not all things are profitable"
The weaker brother.
Liberty in Christ.
What about the children!?
Sheltering children.
Good clean fun.
Being balanced
Bad research

Usually, beginning around the first of October folks begin the googlistic ritual of "Christians and Halloween" and/or "should Christians celebrate Halloween?" It never fails, and it never takes long to find a forum, blog, web page or newspaper article that either confirms your position on it, or challenges it - either with hard hitting facts or a bunch of wacked out hype. Its the internet, there is no shortage of wacked out hype, on any subject.

this is Pyro, my kitty, and he doesn't celebrate Halloween eitherOur family doesn't participate in either Halloween, or any of the other kinds of "replacement" traditions that are held on October 31 (Although if there were a Reformation Day Festival, THAT would be cool and we'd sure like to attend something like that - as 10/31 is indeed Reformation Day, and the festivities would be a God glorifying thing to do with the kids). For us however, it's just another day, and this year happens to be on a Wednesday and we'll be doing what we always do on a Wednesday. We also live in the country so we do not have little Sponge Bobs, Doras, Vampires or Witches coming to our door. Admittedly, we simply don't have much "pressure" to participate and I'm grateful for that.

What I've always found interesting about this discussion, is how the "children" are always brought up. In exactly the same way "the children" are brought up whenever the topic of predestination is being discussed among a mixed group of Calvinists and Arminians. Its an emotional plea tossed into the conversation to make you feel like you're a heartless pig, if you don't side with the opposition, for the sake of "the children, WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN!"

Okay, I have seven of those. The thing is, not one of them has ever had to dress up in a costume and go knock door to door (or attend a party, or community event) to aquire boatloads of candy via the ancient art of begging, only to be harfing all the way to the bathroom at 1 am (which is always a favorite past-time of mothers who are half asleep and stepping in it as they attempt to clean it up) because they ate too much of it - to ever have a well balanced childhood, filled with social activity and warm fuzzy memories. I can assure you, stepping barefoot in recycled Milky Ways, Junior Mints and Resse's Peanut Butter Cups (snack sized my eye! they might be snack sized going in, but the clean up is nothing close to snack sized) is not required for a happy childhood.

We did participate in Halloween when the older girls were younger. Our last year of participating, our oldest was 12, followed by her sisters who were 9 and 5. They "did" Halloween every year and oddly enough, when they talk about happy childhood memories, Halloween events are almost never mentioned. Instead they talk about people we knew, places we went, places we lived and other fun things we did. Our daughter who was 5 at the time, doesn't even remember it. Our youngest four who are now 10, 8, 7 and 4, have never participated in it.
Yet, folks will still insist that your kids must be allowed to partake of this event to be socially well adjusted, have happy memories or just have a good time.

For the most part, I don't even read the "Christians and Halloween" articles anymore. I know there are some really good ones out there, well balanced, well researched and gracious toward the reader regardless of which side he or she takes on this issue. Here's one of those articles at Grace to You. Most of whats written though is not very well balanced, and will quite often leave the reader with more questions than answers.

I also avoid (for the most part) open forum discussion on it (whether at blogs or discussion forums) because it seems this topic just cannot be discussed in the way that GTY article is written, and without all the elevated emotions & accusatory tone, from both sides of the issue. It can get so ugly there's no need to buy a costume!

I would like to suggest that wherever you are with this, to make it a matter of serious prayer for you and your family. No matter what we're doing or not doing, there's always a way to improve on that for God's glory. Amen?

Oh, and you know where I'll be Thursday morning. Those same stores that hire the marketing geniuses that advise them to stick those Halloween displays of candy, costumes, fake blood and plastic pumpkin buckets right in the front entrance of the store, start popping their ready made "50%-75% off!" signs all over that same stuff. Oh yeah... big ole bags of chocolate at reduced prices? Yep, I'll be there.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Sin Disorder?

Yesterday there was a television show on (I don't know what the show was, one of the kids were flipping through the channels) that featured some type of social justice/motivational speaker. The channel remained on the screen just long enough for me to hear that according to this person, the stats in Canada say that two thirds of all Canadian teenagers would rather become famous, than to spend their life helping someone. While I can't verify the accuracy of that statement, it certainly wouldn't surprise me.

In our family we have an individual who, through no fault of their own, is going through a very painful and grievous separation and divorce. The party who has chosen to end the marriage is said to have what they call Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I'd never heard of this being an actual disorder before, but I guess these days there's a clinical disorder or 'ism' for just about any kind of personality/conduct/behavioral issue. It's interesting to read the definition of this disorder from a Biblical worldview, and as well to read the primary course of treatment: psychotherapy.

I realize that I'm old fashioned and actually believe what the Bible says about sin and how it manifests in people's lives, but from where I sit, this kind of behavior used to be called self-centeredness, selfishness, arrogance, pride and seeking the applause of men. The primary course of treatment used to be called repentance (and daily, if need be) and centering the Lord in one's life, to serve Him. Prayer, Bible study, being a part of a local church, surrounding oneself with strong, mature believers is also a part of that.

In thinking about this today I couldn't help but think of this passage:

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. (2Tim. 3:1-5)

In an effort to understand this a little better, I looked up the Greek language for this verse and found that there is just one word for that phrase in bold, and that is philautos. This is the only place it is used in Scripture, but there are numerous verses in Scripture that exhort the believer to be just the opposite of this, such as Romans 15:1-3 which makes it very clear that we're to put others before ourselves.

oh how do I love ME? let me count the ways...While men have always been sinners and the characteristics listed in that passage are quite common of unbelievers, the Scriptures tell us that such things will increase in frequency and intensity before the return of Christ. Not that we needed news headlines to interpret Scripture for us, but if you compare the social structure of our society from even 40 years ago, to the social structure today, you can see just how immoral things have become. And this is just the moral decline of one generation. It chills me to think what things might be like in 40 more years.

Yesterday in our Bible lesson in school (we're working through the life of Joseph, and in yesterday's lesson how he forgave his brothers after seeing them again so many years after they sold him as a slave) , the lesson goal stated is this "To understand that we can love other people only after we have accepted God's love and plan for our lives." So, we had a good opportunity to discuss the difference in the way unsaved people treat others, and saved people treat others. The one glaring difference between the saved and the unsaved is that those saved have a literal, deep and convicting sense of mercy, grace, forgiveness and compassion - because we have been on the receiving end of that, from our Heavenly Father. While the unsaved may have some amount of experience in this on a person to person level, and may indeed even be compassionate, its not at all on the same level as being the recipient of such overwhelming grace and compassion from God.

It's disturbing to consider what a self-centered saturated society we really do live in. The pressure and influence on young people (who will be leaders some day, and passing on the wisdom they collect during this time) to take up the mantle of self-love and self-first is enormous and enormously destructive in this regard. As much as you try to weed it out of your own home and family, the influences are still there and the results are still obvious to a parent who's seen a change in their young person's behaviors and attitudes. It is a constant and often exhausting battle on several fronts, to keep our kids focused on the things that matter, the timeless truth of Scripture, and having a genuine servant's heart, rather than a self-centered one where ME comes first.

But this is what we do, no matter how tired we get, because these are the things that matter.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Becoming Her

A few days ago I was talking with a friend about the roles of women in the church. Specifically at it pertains to the whole complimentarian/egalitarian issue that is such a hot button topic these days. Anyone who knows me already knows that I have firm convictions about such things and that women in leadership positions in the church should be subjected to the Biblical direction for women (as opposed to the 'feelings' women have that they have been called to do this or that, and the doctrinally ignorant men and women who stand behind and support them).

I may or may not write about that again in the not too distant future, but as I thought about that conversation, the roles of women in general seemed to me to be more interesting to think about. Interesting to me anyway, since the issue of women in leadership in the church is already a settled issue. Women's roles in general however, and especially as it pertains to women in society, women in the home, and women of influence really is much more fascinating to me.

When I read John MacArthur's Twelve Extraordinary Women, I was so eager to pick it up each time and read more about such women of influence, and women of strong moral character. While these were definitely "women in the church", as it pertains to women who believe, the focus was more on their character and how they were influential and memorable for who they were and what they did.

The older I get the more I realize that at some point (maybe even now?) I'm going to have to take the Titus 2 Woman aspect of being an older woman in the church, in a much more conscious way. While I'm only 42, that simply means that for some who are older than me, it's not really my "time" yet. But for those who are younger than me, it means that my character and witness for Christ is quite likely being noticed. Whether my character and witness is glorifying God or not, is a huge concern to me (as it should be).

To be quite honest, that scares me. Most of the time I'm so preoccupied with my own family and their needs, that I just don't have time to invest in being a good "Titus 2 Woman" example to anyone younger in my church. On the one hand that does bother me because it's a ministry definitely needed in our local churches for the younger women. On the other hand, it's unrealistic for me to "do" anything about it, since I still have a young family that needs to be looked after. I guess in that regard, I am busy being a Titus 2 Mom.

I only hope I'm doing it well enough to be a good example to my own kids, let alone anyone else who may be taking mental notes.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

4:37 Things

Things you should be doing at 4:37am:
Sleeping. Like a log.

Things you should not be doing at 4:37am:

Getting up

Things you can do at 4:37am when you can't be sleeping like a log:

Saying mean things (and saying them quietly) to the stupid dog that woke you up countless times through the night
Wondering why it is that said dog feels the need to come into MY room to make all her stupid dog noises
Run into the wall because you think its the doorway, and its so dark you can't see a thing (and then feel like an American Idol wannabe who heard "other door")
Attempt to change a lightbulb in the bathroom only to have it spin in the socket & shoot pretty orange sparks at you
Make the same attempt in the dining room only to have the same result, minus the sparks
Make a mental note "two spinning, burnt out bulbs - fix later"
Put laundry in the dryer
Trip over the cat. Twice.
Stand on the deck with the cat, and see three shooting stars
Glare at the stupid dog who is now sleeping. Like a log.

Its going to be a very long day.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Store Stuff

Truth Matters Yes I know the newsletter just went out yesterday, but I'm especially pleased with the way this new design turned out, and wanted to share it here before it goes into next week's newsletter.

See the full line here.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Friday Fluff 'n Stuff

one ringy dingy...Well, for all the of the people who have gasped in the last few years when I told them "I don't have a cell phone", you can stop gasping. A family member who no longer needed theirs, gave us their cell phone. Yes... Carla actually has a cell phone now. I know, its huge. It's like saying we're no longer on a dial up. I'm not going to get my hopes up in that department, however.

So I sat here last night and fiddled with all the settings & bells & whistles (there are so many whistles, its kinda creepy - I think I can program this phone to make supper on Tuesdays and take out the trash every day at 4pm), to get used to how this thing works. As of last night, it's the 3rd time ever in my life that I've ever had a cell phone in my hand. Once I took a picture with my mom's cell phone, and the other time was a few days ago when I flipped the phone open but couldn't figure out how to turn it on. Is there some reason there can't be a button that actually says "on" ?? Anyway, I did figure out how to add phone numbers and make a call, but I have yet to figure out how to answer it if it's ringing. I'm just hoping it wont ring. I did change the ring tone however to a rotary dial phone. I'm so retro.


From the mailbag:

Now you can finally hear the history of the genesis of the Protestant Reformation in song... Click on the provided links listed below, one at a time, in their appropriate sequence provided, for the full story, sung by that very controversial 16th century "Golden Oldies" musical group "Party Hearty Marty & the Protestors":
Track One
Track Two
Track Three
Track Four

...Compliments of Chris Arnzen, host of the "Iron Sharpens Iron" radio program, heard live Monday through Friday 3-4pm Eastern in NY & CT on WNYG 1440AM & worldwide at:

Now while you're over at Chris' blog, DO click on the Godtube video in the sidebar and watch it. Whoever said Christians don't have a sense of humor, clearly didn't know Chris Arnzen. A word of caution before you listen to the 4 parts of Party Hearty Marty & The Protesters: do not partake of any type of beverage while listening. It may end up shooting out your nose in a sudden burst of laughter. This is never a pleasurable activity (although others around you will be sure to get a kick out of it!).


Store News: Our weekly newsletter is now online, with new stuff! Be sure to check that out, and be sure to sign up for the newsletter to find out about the upcoming giveaway we're about to have. It'll be great, and the best news is, it's FREE stuff!


Friday Photo
Meet Todd
click Todd to see full size
I actually took this summer before last, but he just kept staring at me from the critters section at my flickr page, so I figured I'd show him off.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Just Unlike Any Other Day

When you woke up this morning you had no idea what day it was, did you? Oh, you might have known it was Thursday, and you might have even known it was the 18th. However, did you also know that today in history:

• 1851 - Herman Melville's Moby Dick is first published as The Whale by Richard Bentley of London.
• 1925 - The Grand Ole Opry opens.
• 1954 - Texas Instruments announces the first Transistor radio.


• 1662 - Matthew Henry, English non-conformist minister
• 1679 - Ann Putnam, Jr., American accuser in the Salem Witch Trials
• 1934 - Chuck Swindoll, American evangelist


• 1931 - Inventor Thomas Alva Edison died at age 84 in West Orange, N.J.
• 1982 - Former first lady Bess Truman died in Independence, Mo., at age 97.

Did you also know that today is:

National Chocolate Cupcake Day (link)
World Toy Camera Day
Sweetest Day
World Menopause Day (link)
National Person's Day (link)
World Water Monitoring Day (link)
World Standards Day (link)
National Conflict Resolution Day (link)
Lights On After School Day (link)
Alaska Day (link)

So in honor of all of the above, go buy someone a chocolate cupcake today, and celebrate!

Dear Mom & Dad...

If you're a parent with school aged children, and you only read one blog post today, make it this one.

I used to be naive enough to think these things didn't have the influence they're reported to have. I was dead wrong.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Christian Character

If you've ever tried to have a discussion about holy living, with someone who claims to be a Christian yet is resistant to everything you mention on the topic, you already know how frustrating that can be. If that person is someone close to you and dear to your heart, it moves beyond frustrating and slides straight into anguish.

Earlier this week over at Steve's, I noticed he'd posted the short article by J.C. Ryle called ARE YOU BORN AGAIN? It's a short but a very good article that defines six character points that should be found agreeable by any professing believer. I would encourage you to read the original article there, because I'm going to address the points from a bit of a slightly different perspective. The perspective that I deal with on a regular basis.

1. A person who has been born again does not live a life of sin. (John 5:18, 1John 3:9)

One of the more common arguments I've come across is that these are weaknesses, or mistakes, or 'something I'm struggling with'. The problem with this excuse is that there is no struggle to remove, resist or run from these sins. Sometimes it seems like it's all the more dangerous to the self-deceived that they even know the Christian language to give themselves excuses like this, but this is exactly what they do. They know enough to offer up an excuse but its all head knowledge and not heart felt at all.

2. Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God (1John 5:1)

The Scriptures are clear that Jesus is the only way to the Father, and yet in our theologically/religiously liberal culture there are all kinds of people that affirm their brand of Christianity out of one side of their mouths and turn right around and affirm other religions as valid expressions of faith. Christianity is in fact a narrow road, and there is only one way to eternal life - through faith in the person and the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, and Him alone.

3. Every one that doeth righteousness is born of Him (1John 2:29)

JC Ryle wrote "The man who is born again, or regenerated, is a holy man. He endeavors to live according to God's will, to do the things that please God and to avoid the things that God hates." In the heart and mind of every true believer, there is a genuine desire to rid their lives of all the things God's word clearly tells us that He is against. It doesn't matter if that is a lifestyle, musical choices, habits, gossipping, anger control issues or anything else. If its something that is detrimental to growth as a believer, its something that has to go. In far too many cases however there is an eagerness from professing Christians to defend such things and make excuses for them and an efforts made to justify them. Rather than humbly receiving correction and instruction in righteousness, a wall goes up and the words that they most desperately need to hear, and to heed, fall flat on deaf ears.

4. We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren (1John 3:14)

The regenerated man or woman, boy or girl, truly enjoys being around other believers. There is an instant familial bond that you sense with fellow believers, even if you're just meeting them for the first time. Sadly this is not the case at all with many who call themselves Christians. They have no desire at all to be among other believers. They'll make excuses not to be in a local church often by recalling stories of emotional turmoil in past churches. They have no problem with calling other believers hypocrites or judgemental, and they have little or no use for them at all.

5. Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world (1John 5:4)

JC Ryle wrote "A man who is born again does not use the world's opinion as his standard of right and wrong. He does not mind going against the world's ways, ideas and customs." I cannot pretend that this is an easy thing for any Christian. For some I am sure it is not nearly as hard as it is for others, but to one degree or another we all face this. I know for myself personally it was very difficult for me in the first few years of my Christian walk, to not cave in to the pressure of the ungodly influences around me. Someone with much wisdom told me at the time that to combat this, we have to literally surround ourselves with strong believers that will support us in this area, and be an encouragment to us and help keep us accountable. That is exactly what I did, and it made all the difference then, and now.

In my own (limited) experience with many who profess Christ, not only do they indeed base their decisions and opinions on the world's standard, but they desperately want you to accept that too. "This is normal" "this is what everyone does" "this is how everyone speaks" "this is what everyone wears". Does any of that sound familiar? Indeed this is setting your standard alongside the world's standard and not God's. Its a way to not stand out, and not take a stand for your faith in Christ, lest you be thought less of, in the minds of those you are most concerned with impressing.

6. He that is begotten of God keepeth himself (1John 5:18)

JC Ryle wrote "A man who is born again is careful of his own soul. He tries not only to avoid sin but also to avoid everything which may lead to it. He is careful about the company he keeps. He knows that evil communications corrupt the heart and that evil is more catching than good, just as disease is more infectious than health. He is careful about the use of his time; his chief desire is to spend it profitable".

For a variety of reasons, it was hard to read that without a lump forming in my throat. How many times and with how many things/people/circumstances has this dilema come up in the life of every believer? In fact it is an ongoing issue that we'll each face for the rest of our lives. As long as we live in this world filled with ungodly things, and ungodly people, we'll deal with the issue of keeping ourselves from such ungodliness.

Unfortunately, not all professing believers will choose to do that. The rather recent issue among many evangelicals of cussing and using scatalogical humor is one example that comes to mind. The example list could be a mile long but the other things that come to my mind immediately, that professing Christians make excuses for would be ungodly music, raunchy movies, and clothing choices - both men and women (and teens).

In each of these points in the original article, JC Ryle encourages the reader to examine oneself. Asking yourself the questions "what would the apostle (John) say about you? Are you born again?" Self examination is often a brutally honest and terribly uncomfortable thing to do, but its something that we have to do, if we truly have a desire to grow in Him.

Its a very difficult thing to discuss these things with those that profess Christianity, yet have no interest in actually living a Christian life. Its been said many times before that we can say it all we like but that doesn't make it so. As JC Ryle asked:
"What would the apostle say about you?
Are you born again?"

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Duct Tape

Sometimes, the very thing you want to say SO badly is the very thing you know that if you say it, you'll start a firestorm of opinionated commentary that could get so ugly, you end up wishing you never said a word to begin with.

Today I shall endeavor to practice the fine art of shutting up. For me, that's not so easy. Prayers would sure be appreciated today.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Glow in the Dark Christians

Like many families I'm sure, we have our share of glow-in-the-dark products in our house. The girls have GITD stars all over their ceiling, Samuel has a GITD Spiderman t-shirt, and over the years we've had a steady stream of various other GITD toys & doodads. Just last month Jordan received a "mad scientist" type of craft kit that came with GITD cups and spoons and such. I often find her mad scientist accessories in the upstairs bathroom at night, and that's where they were last night.

do you glow too?For those of you who may have forgotten how GITD toys work, allow me to remind you. Whatever the substance is inside of them that enables them to do this, they glow brighter and stronger in the darkness, the closer you hold it to a source of light.

The light in the girl's room isn't very bright, so when its turned off, the stars on the ceiling are noticable but only after your eyes adjust to the darkness. Once when the power went out I was goofing off in their room with the high powered flashlight and shining it directly on the stars, then turning the flashlight off. It was nothing short of amazing how those stars lit up the entire room. That was when the girls practically demanded I go out and purchase a floor lamp for their room, that shines upward. One of these days, that is exactly what they're going to get. When I finish Samuel's room, it will also have stars on the ceiling and he'll also have an uplight for his room.

In any case, no, this post is not about toys at all. As a person surrounded by them however, sometimes I find it incredibly ironic how there might be a spiritual parallel to be noticed from a simple thing like a GITD toy. When I noticed Jordan's mad scientist accessories in the bathroom last night, I couldn't help but think "isn't this what Christianity is supposed to be like?"

Just like the toys, when exposed to the Light we take on His light. The longer we're exposed to His light, the more we're supposed to be reflecting that light back into the darkness around us. The stronger the exposure, the stronger the reflection.

When I first became a Christian in 1994, there was a pop Christian song called Shine (I forget who sang it, you can google it I'm sure), and the chorus was based on this passage:

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)

I wasn't big on the song itself, but I thought the message within it was pretty good.

As Christians, we're supposed to be a light to those in darkness. Likewise, we're to be a bright light to those among the household of faith that are maybe new to the faith, weak in faith, or struggling along through some kind of trial. It would be really easy right this minute to start naming names and expressing my disappointment with certain professing believers (some you'd recognize, others you wouldn't), in that their light looks more like a flickering bulb about to go out. As their light flickers and sputters they look, act and speak more and more like the world, and less and less like Him. It would be easy to point fingers at those that are like this, and express my disheartened feelings about that.

What's not so easy and whats far more important, is to take an honest look at my own light and do the daily assessment. Is it bright? Always reflecting Him, His ways, His word, His grace, His patience? That's just the short list, and it's a most convicting one already. I already know that I fall very very short in many of those areas on the short list. I know I'm terribly impatient and not always the vessel of grace I long to be with those around me. I don't always have an encouraging word that will edify. So while its sure easy to see flickering bulbs around me, the real question is for myself and how my own light is doing.

It is my hearts deepest to desire to be exposed to the Light that is Christ, and be held closer to Him, for longer periods of time, so that when darkness is around me, I shine brightly with His light.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

People Reflections?

Yesterday I was busy in the kitchen preparing a Thanksgiving dinner. While the majority of Canada had their holiday dinner on Monday this past week, ours was delayed until yesterday because Kev's mom was coming from Edmonton for a visit.

Usually when we have a family get together for any reason, I'm the one with the camera getting on everyone's nerves by taking too many pictures. When I'm doing all the cooking though, I don't have time for that. That's when someone else does all the picture taking. There weren't many taken yesterday but when I looked at the ones Jessica took I had to laugh when I saw the two of myself and Caryn. Taken from two different places in the kitchen and at two different times of the afternoon, you might suspect the two of us are related...

pictures? bah...

It's a bizarre thing to realize this child is going to be 25 in just three months.

Oh, and if you want your kitchen to have a fantastically amazing scent, and have a hankerin' for something festive & yummy, you need to go to Rebecca's and grab this. They were delicious, and I'm about to have one for breakfast right now!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

I'm such a loser

free online scrabulousJust for the record... Rebecca beat me so badly in our first game, I've decided to brush up and get better at this. If you'd like to beat me too, join here and invite me to a game. I'd be happy to lose to you too.

Once you join, select the option to play via email. Add your email address, then add mine. carla dot rolfe at gmail dot com.

For Little Ones

At twelve years old, Andy was a rather handsome boy. Jet black hair and dark eyes, with a smile that always lit up a room. He was a little shy at 12, but friendly enough to anyone who spoke with him. He liked to laugh, and he was a nice person to be around. He was the type of boy that you might hear someone say of, "when he's older, he's going to be a heartbreaker".

There was something different about Andy though. It's the kind of difference that all kids notice about other kids, even if they never say anything. Andy's clothes were often dirty and wrinkled. On his face were discolorations that were obviously bruises in various stages of healing. He had the same discolorations on his arms. His hair wasn't always clean, and was equally as often, uncombed. Not too awfully uncommon with twelve year old boys, but there was something different about Andy, and we all knew it. Andy's classmates, the ones that sat next to him in English and Math class, the ones that rode the bus with him, the ones closest to him, we all knew someone was beating Andy.

At twelve, you know it's wrong and you know it shouldn't be happening, and as much as your heart goes out to someone suffering at the hands of an abusive parent or caretaker, you're just not sure what to say, or what to do. Anyway, thirty years ago thats the way it was.

One day in the 7th grade, Andy didn't show up on the bus. Neither did the girl that lived next door to him. I noticed it in the morning but noticed it even more when the both of them were missing in english class, since one of them sat in front of me, and the other directly behind me. We talked in class, and yes we were often scolded for it, but they were fun kids to talk to.

After school that day, the daily newspaper had a local horror story. An unemployed father with a history of abuse and alcoholism, brutally beat his wife. While she was on the phone with the police, he shot her. Before the police arrived, he chased his terrified twelve year old boy (who was trying to help his mom), covered in his mom's blood, into his room and shot him too, several times. The police only knew that the boy was chased into his room because there was a witness there that watched the whole thing. A witness that the father never even saw. As the police arrived, the man shot himself. The boy and the mother died at the scene, but the father lived long enough to confess to the whole thing, from his hospital bed. Then he died too.

That boy was Andy, and the witness was the girl who lived next door to him, and got on the bus at the same stop with Andy, every day. It happened right after he got off the bus the previous day, and went home. The girl who lived next door to him saw the whole thing as she had dropped her books off at home and went to Andy's bedroom window where they would often talk to each other after school. While she waited for Andy to come to the open window, that scene of horrific violence was being carried out inside the house.

My mom had read the newspaper article and noticing the ages of the boy and girl, asked if I knew them. I don't recall if the girl was named in the article but I knew who they were talking about, and Andy's name was mentioned. Yes, I knew them. It was the first time such violence ever touched my life and it left a most profound impact on me, and many of the other kids that rode the bus with Andy, and enjoyed his company. By the following day when the bus drove by Andy and the other girl's stop and just kept going (no one was there to stop for), that school bus fell silent. If there is one way to render a bus full of 12 year old kids completely silent, that was it. As the bus drove along, some of us were crying, but that was about the only sound you could hear.

Eventually the girl came back to school, but she was not the same. She was distant and she was very quiet, and I don't remember her ever smiling anymore. Before the end of the school year her family moved away, and none of us ever saw her again. I only hope she received the help she needed, to deal with what she saw at such a tender age.

I thought of this yesterday when I read in the news yet another story about a parent who murdered their own kids, then took their own life. It's nearly impossible for me not to think about Andy, whenever I hear or read one of those stories. They seem to happen with increasing frequency as the years roll on.

I thought about how the Scriptures tell us that in the last days before Christ returns, there will be horrible times and people will be without natural affection. (2Tim 3:3). If there is any better example of being without natural affection, in my mind it has to be when a parent of a child does intentional and fatal harm to that child. I thought also about how things have changed in society since that day in the fall of 1977 when Andy died. Back then, kids didn't know that they could go to someone and tell them what they noticed about other kids. They didn't know they could tell someone about the bruises they saw, or the fat lip, or black eye, or clumps of hair missing. Kids today are no different than kids thirty years ago, and when there is an abused kid among other kids, the other kids know someone is beating that kid. We know, even if we never mention it to the kid, or discuss it among ourselves. We know what a beaten child looks like. In our society today, kids know they can tell someone and that (hopefully) action will be taken to stop it. I only wish the kids around Andy would have known we could have told someone back then.

Whenever I read the news or hear about something like this happening again (and again, and again) it's hard not to think about Andy. It's hard not to think also about God's sovereignty over the affairs of men, man's responsibility toward fellow man, and how all of that fits together and works. I wish I had some hard & fast answers that would clear it all up and allow myself to be 'okay' with it all, but at the end of the day I'm never okay with the idea that helpless and defenseless children suffer at the hands of those who are supposed to be the ones protecting them. Even with knowing and believing the truth of God's sovereignty and knowing and believing that whatever He allows, or ordains is ultimately for His own glory.

I know someday when I die and go to Heaven to be with the Lord forever, all of this will make sense. Or maybe it wont even be something that ever crosses my mind again. One way or another I know my understanding of life and how God works all things for His glory will be completely satisfied.

Until then, I know for sure I can never be satisfied when even one child suffers like this. As a mother it breaks my heart. As a daughter it makes me so grateful that my own mother was not like this. As a human being it stirs up in me a hunger for justice, and a desire to take these kids into my arms and shelter them from any kind of violence or pain. As a child of God it causes me to lift these kids up in prayer that our gracious Heavenly Father might protect them, or send His Holy Spirit to regenerate their parents and drive them to their knees in repentance.

As a blogger... it makes me want to write about it and bring it to the attention of whoever comes across it, in hopes that in doing so it might stir up at least a little bit of awareness and maybe the next time you suspect child abuse in any given situation, that you might step up to the plate and be a voice for a child that doesn't have one. In such cases, I believe with all my heart that we are indeed our brother's keeper.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Be Part of the Difference

The store's weekly newsletter is now up, and for those that just can't wait for it to arrive in their email box tomorrow morning, you can go here and check it out. There isn't anything in that newsletter that I don't want you to pay attention to, but there is something in there I want you to pay special attention to.

If you've been out in public in the last 2 weeks you've no doubt seen people wearing clothing items that have a pink ribbon on them, in honor of October being breast cancer awareness month. Many businesses have a limited line of products manufactured just for this reason, and donate a portion of the sales of those products to various cancer support/research groups. Cafepress, the good folks that host my own t-shirt & gift shop are doing that very same thing again this year.

Early in September they put a call out to shopkeepers to donate designs for the 2007 Breast Cancer Donation shop, and I created and submitted one. Knowing that 40% of the retail price would go to a good cause, I was more than happy to participate. I can say I was delighted when I learned my design was accepted for inclusion in the project, but I must say I was quite stunned to learn that out of the thousands designs submitted, mine ("hope") is one of six featured on their storefront. It is indeed an honor.

In this week's newsletter you'll see this:

HOPEFor every item sold in this shop, $1.00 will go directly to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation - Ontario Division.

Show your support with every purchase.

When I learned that my first design was accepted as a donation to the CP shop, it occured to me that I could do even more, by creating another one with the idea of donating a portion of those proceeds to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. I want you to buy things in this shop. I want you to buy them for yourself, your sister, your daughter, your cousin, and anyone else you know who's lives have been directly touched by breast cancer. For every product sold in the CP shop, 40% goes to a cancer research and support group based in the states - and for every product sold in my own shop, $1.00 goes to the Canadian support and research group.

For those folks who's lives have never been directly affected by cancer, I'd like to take a few minutes of your time to give you an idea of what it's actually like, day to day. While I do not have first hand, personal experience with breast cancer, I do have first hand experience in being the primary caregiver for someone that did battle cancer.

When my late husband was first diagnosed, the only treatment option he had required him to 1.) quit his job and 2.) travel 60 miles one way for the treatments. He was to undergo specialty care and the local medical facilities weren't equipped to handle that. This is quite common for a large number of cancer patients, quitting jobs and travelling away from their homes for treatment is all a part of the process.

For the first two years, travel was constant and it was not optional. It didn't matter if we didn't have gas money, didn't have ferry tickets, or didn't have a babysitter. Staying on the protocol for the treatment was critical to its success, and that was the #1 priority. There were times when we had to make the choice to buy groceries or not, take the kids out of school and bring them with us (if we knew we wouldn't be home before they got out of school), or to sell things we owned to come up with enough money to meet these financial needs.

When we would arrive at the medical clinic, there were almost always other people their with their kids in tow. They were forced to make the same choices we were, at times. There were often entire families in the waiting rooms, and what a blessing it was that the staff at the medical centers made the waiting rooms as kid-friendly as possible. There were single women there, without anyone to sit with them and wait. There were old men there, with their wives at their side. There were small, bald children, trying to play with the other kids as they waited to be seen, and sometimes those precious little bald kids just quietly waited in a wheelchair or waiting room chair, without the energy to play with the other kids. All of these people and their families were going through the exact same thing we were, no matter what kind of cancer they had. A cancer diagnosis indeed affects the whole family, and the whole family's life and routines change overnight, to mee the needs of the one diagnosed.

On more than a few occaisions, we would be blessed with donations from here or there. Folks knew that Ben had to quit his job, and they knew we had kids to feed. Sometimes it was a surprise mention from the paratransit driver that his bus fare had been anonymously paid for the month. Other times it was a voucher for the grocery store, donated by a local cancer support organization for families in need. This sort of thing happened more than I can count, and it happened because people were willing to give, and to help. Just sitting here thinking about it, I find myself thinking "how did we make it through that?" It was a very hard time, and something I wouldn't wish on anyone, ever.

The "things" that we had that were worth anything, we sold. We even sold things that weren't really worth much, but when your choices are keep it and have $0.00, or sell it and have $10.00, the choice is pretty easy. That $10.00 was ferry fare for 3 round trips, at the time. It wasn't long into those first years of struggling through this, that everything worth anything that we had, was gone. Insurance was a blessing, but insurance doesn't cover the costs of everything, that part is up to you.

That's just one small aspect of this. While the financial burdens are overwhelming for many families going through this, the emotional, spiritual and physical burdens are all in full swing, and all operating concurrent with the stress of the financial burden. In an effort to meet those needs and be a ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, and a practical help with housekeeping and other domestic needs, there are various support organizations set up in most communities that are funded expressly through public donations. They exist to help meet the needs of the cancer patient and their families, and they are truly a Godsend to countless numbers of people. (Please know that I am not advocating that your local church family isn't a much needed support at a time like this, but in many cases there are patients without a church, and even if you do have one, these organizations and support groups exist to help, and that's a wonderful thing).

When you or your loved one is diagnosed with cancer, as much as you want to pretend it's not going to happen, your whole life changes, and so does your family's life. Even if you are independently wealthy, which most folks aren't, you suddenly find yourself in dire need of help and support from people. People who are willing to be there, to give of their time, their money, their hearts and anything else they've got to offer. You become dependant in many ways no matter if you want to or not. It's just the way it is. You learn first hand where the money goes when people make donations or purchases that benefit such groups. You find out that it does in fact go to local grocery store vouchers, retail store gift certificates, transportation aid, resources and educational materials for local support groups & so much more. You may not have ever wanted to learn this first hand by being in need of the services these groups have to offer, but there you are all the same. It truly changes your entire perspective to be the one on the receiving end of a charitable organization.

I've told you all this because I've been there, and I've thanked the Lord that He's put it on the hearts of even unsaved people to give, and to support such things. I've had $15.00 dollars in donated ferry vouchers in my hand, and been so grateful that even though that week's grocery shopping was going to be at the local foodbank, at least we had the ferry cost covered by a donation. It's not an easy way to live, but it's a stark reality for many families going through a battle with cancer.

Groups like the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation, exist to make this experience not only bearable, but Lord willing, some day non-existant. Every donation you make to groups like these, or every purchase you make from merchants that partner with them, makes that possible. So yes, I really really want you to click that link up yonder, and buy something. If you don't want to buy a product, then at the very least, find a local charitable organization that is geared to assist cancer patients and their families, and give there.

I cannot express enough just how much of a difference it really does make.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Just a Mom

Back in the 70's during the height of the "women's lib" movement, as best as I can recall hearing about it all the time, there was a television commercial that used to drive me nutty. You may recall it. It showed a woman arriving home from work, tossing something in a frying pan and cooking dinner all while putting groceries away, greeting kids and whatever else. While she was doing this a stupid song was being sung in the background that said "I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in the pan, something else and something or other, because I'm a woman, w-o-m-a-n!" Oh boy I cannot tell you how much I detested that commercial. I'm not even sure why, it just seemed so lame, so in your face, and the woman in it didn't look like a mom I'd ever want to have.

Oddly enough I thought about that commercial today as I was busy doing 90 million things at once. Not to toot my own horn or anything (I'm too tired to even look for my horn, so there's no tooting going on around here), but I did more in my house today than this annoying woman could have ever dreamed of doing. Even though I slept in until nearly 8 am (I could never get away with that when the older girls were young and in public school), as soon as coffee #1 was properly administered, I was on the go. Laundry, straightening up bathrooms, and rounding up kids for school. After we did our lessons (we only did 4 lessons today, I skipped math for the day so I could get to my long list of to-do's), there was more laundry to deal with, a clogged toilet to plunge then snake since the plunging wasn't enough, several phone calls to make, bills to sort and a research project to work on. When that was done, I gathered up the required cleaning supplies and headed for the basement to clean out all the scary movie sized spider webs that accumulated over the summer, then half-dismantle the wood burning furnace and scoop 7 bags of last winter's ashes out of it. Doing all this in a most awkward position that I would discover later was not at all friendly to my back, AND while Ruth danced around the dirty basement asking me millions of questions like "how do the toads get into the basement?" and "why is your head in the furnace?" and critically important stuff like that. She's 4, she never runs out of questions.

By the time all that was done, I was just about wiped out but I still wasn't done. I still had more laundry to deal with, desperately needed a shower and then had to make dinner. I managed to get all that done too then get the girls ready for bed (Papa & Samuel were at the church tonight for Boys Club) and pray with them & tuck them in. Even after they were in bed, I still managed to get a massive amount of work done at the store (lots of new stuff this week!) and even found the time to dye my hair back to it's original dark brown color.

I suppose there are a few other things I likely did today that I have already forgotten, but that was the gist of my day, and this is the gist of most of my days. As I said earlier I'm not boasting about what I do around the house, because I assure you, it's about as glamorous as falling into a mud puddle or stepping barefoot on a big ole Pacific Northwest slug (yes, I've done both so I speak from experience). I only mentioned all the things I did today because that wretched "I am woman" commercial popped into my head today, and it made me wonder what I'm missing by being a stay at home mom, and what I've gained. I've been in the workforce before, I'm no stranger to that life. I've owned my own business, worked for others, had good jobs and had horrible ones. I've checked coats at dance clubs and helped senior citizens remember to take their meds & cleaned up after them when they had accidents. I've sold specialty chocolates at an upscale chocolate shop, and I've rung up orders at KFC. I served steaming hot plates of canneloni at the best Italian joint in town, and I've come home with my hands stained with woodstain after remodeling. I've dealt with more customers at customer service than I ever care to think about again in this lifetime, and I've been told I'm the nicest telemarketer folks have ever met. It must have had some truth to it, I did it for nine years.

I've done all those things, and yet I've also changed diapers, cleaned up after sick kids, helped them make their beds, taught them how to tie shoes, wash their own hair, and pray hard and fast when they stub their toe or cut a finger. I've made cookies and had them all eaten within hours. I've rushed kids to the ER, held their hands in ambulances, and wiped their tears away when a pet died. I've watched overjoyed faces as they open the gift they wanted the most, and I've taught kids how to read, how to spell, what a common denominator is, what a noun is, why mercury does what it does in thermometers, and why water falls from the sky. I've repaired 'do it yourself" haircuts they've all given themselves at the age of about 3, and I've let little girls too little to wear it, wear my lipstick. I've told them stories about my childhood and I've fielded more questions from more short people than I ever thought humanly possible. I've scolded kids up past their bedtime and I've admired their angelic faces as I peek in when I wake up before they do.

I can only say that it had to be the Lord, but the moment I looked into the face of my first child, just seconds after she was born, it hit me like a tsunami that "now someone else comes first". It wasn't a burdened feeling but a wonderfully honored and humbling sensation knowing that God put someone in my care. Its been the same with each of them, and remains the same with all of them still at home. For me, it is far more important that I be home with them and be there for them, than to ever be out in the workplace bringing home a paycheck. When I hear things like "thank you for dinner mom" every single night, from every kid - that IS my paycheck. When I see them resolve problems between themselves without running to me to tattle on each other, those are my long term benefits. When my body is contorted into a pretzel with my head stuck in the furnace scraping ashes into a scoop, and I hear my 4 year old asking why there are toads in the basement, and how they got in, those are the things I find worthwhile. (For the record, I'm not sure how they get in, I just know there were 3 of them down there today - two were taken outside and the third hopped behind the stacked wood).

Yep, I am just a housewife. Just a mom, and just a homeschooling parent. It used to really insult me to hear people say that, but anymore it doesn't bother me one bit. I know what I'm missing in the workplace, and I know what I'm gaining at home. I am right where I should be, and while it can be overwhelming sometimes, at the end of the day I am grateful beyond my ability to express with words, that I can be at home.

The added bonus is that I get to be a liberal woman's worst nightmare. I'm perfectly at peace with that one.