Thursday, May 31, 2007

It's 8am, do you know where YOUR face is?

Ladies, this one is just for you. The men can go read theology blogs or mow the lawn or stand in the garage, or something.


I think I was in my early 20's when I decided that putting on my face every day was more of a pain in the neck than I wanted to deal with. I had two little girls to take care of and a house to clean & dishes to wash, and I recall thinking "I need mascara to scrub toilets? - I don't think so". It was at that point I stopped wearing makeup as a normal 'everyday' thing, and would only wear it on special occaisions. I will admit that I was blessed as a teenager and didn't have the legendary acne episodes so many of my friends did, so my face was relatively scar-free, and I could get away with leaving the makeup off.

At some point over the years, I got into the habit of just never wearing it at all, no matter what. As long as my crazy-curly hair was under control, that was good enough for me and I never even thought about wearing makeup. That is until my girls started getting older and they wanted to wear it. After they had their own, from time to time I'd buy myself some eyeliner or something, and once in a blue moon I'd actually wear it.

I don't know when the change happened, because I wasn't paying attention (I was probably using Shout on a new t-shirt splattered with 'sketti sauce or scrubbing a toilet somewhere when it happened), but the change did indeed happen, and I'll get to that in a minute.

I'm going to assume that at least one of my readers was a Seinfeld fan. I'm also going to assume that at least one reader remembers the Puffy Shirt episode, when Jerry fumbled his way into promising to wear the puffy pirate shirt on the Tonight Show. Going on this assumption (or double assumption, as it were) I'm going to go one step further and guess that you'll also remember when Jerry said to Kramer "I don't WANT to be a pirate!" in the tone of a 5 yr old boy. Yep, you had to be there, but it was funny. Classic comedy tv.

I mentioned that because yesterday I heard myself say something similar to Jessica, my almost 17 yr old.

Because we homeschool and we're all about high academics and diligent study, yesterday Jessica and I were playing around with Celebrity Face Recognition software, right here. In case you haven't been there before (and I'll assume all self-respecting Christian mothers never go there!) it's a little program that matches your uploaded pic, with up to 9 pictures of famous people. It's a lot of fun, and a complete waste of time. I highly recommend it - do the whole family, you'll have a blast!

So there we were, uploading different pics of ourselves, the kids, friends and so on. It was fun doing other people, but when it came to doing my own picture - even the very best picture I have of myself - something kept happening that was incredibly disturbing.

I was sure the wretched software was busted, because it kept matching me up with ugly, old men celebrities, or manly looking (if ya know what I mean, Vern) older women celebs. That's when I heard myself say "I don't WANT to be an ugly old man!" in the Jerry Seinfeld tone of 'I dont want to be a pirate".

The thing is, I don't wear makeup, and so the older I get, I guess the more I resembe an ugly old man or a manly woman. GACK. I don't THINK so.

I don't want to be vain, or get all self-focused or anything, and I honestly have no issue at all with getting older. I have no interested in dashing out to buy a vat of $50.00 anti-wrinkle cream, and the "because I'm worth it" commercials on tv are almost always mocked by yours truly, to say instead "because I'm worthless" (similar to "maybe it's maybelline" being changed by me when I was about 16, to say "maybe it's surgery"). I don't have any issue with women wearing makeup or anything, it just seems to be a really self-centered industry out there that keeps telling us we need to make our faces look flawless or no one will like us. The funny thing is, at one time I checked just out of curiosity and the majority of CEO's of these cosmetics companies were ugly old men. Things that make you go "hmmm" indeed.

Here's the real issue though. I can obviously no longer get away with going completely makeup free, unless I want to look like an old man - which I definitely do not. I was mistaken once for a boy when I was about 11, and I had issues with that for years to come. We wont be going there again.

So, as of this morning I got up and put moisturizer on, and a little under-eye concealer. It only took a few seconds, so that part was good. The bonus was, even though my eyes were still a little puffy from sleep, I looked much less like an old man, than I did before I put the stuff on. The older I get, I'd much rather look like an old lady with at least a little make up on, than an ugly old man without eyebrows and a double chin. I think I might have nightmares about Buddy Hackett now - or Carol Burnett as Nora Desmond.

Oh, and one last thing. The only thing good about that face recognition thing, is that it told me my face resembles Carlos Bernard. TONY!! I'm okay with looking like Tony, it was a good picture of him too. (For those that have no clue who I'm talking about, summer is coming and it's time to watch seasons 1 through 6 of 24, and then you'll know who Tony is).

Now go have fun with that software. Here's to hoping you're not an ugly old man, especially if you're a woman!

Why... yes I do

do YOU need a customized mug?Custom mugs, that is. Mugs for bloggers, mugs for churches, mugs for whatever you want a mug for. You can even put your mug on a mug, were you so inclined to do such a thing.

Kim has one, Jen has one, Jen's hubby has one and theres all kinds of folkses that have the 5 Solas mug with their church info on the other side.

White mugs, one sided mugs, colored, two-sided, you can even order a whole whack of them and get a bulk discount.

If you need a custom mug, just give me a shout. All proceeds from this endeavor go toward buying fabric to sew my girls modest clothing so we don't have to shop at SkankWorld and make excuses for the way our girls dress. Oh, and school books.

If a custom mug isn't your thing, there's also 95 of them right here to choose from. Mugs make the perfect gift for just about anyone!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Go Bless Someone

soothing, isn't it?
Some years ago, while I was still in the charismatic church, I had a very unusual experience. Well truth be told I had many of those, but this particular one was personal, and deeply moving for me. I’ll spare the details, because I honestly still don’t know how much of it was a preconceived “spiritual move” on my part as a result of the teachings I was under at the time, and how much of it was truly the Lord’s direct work. Either way, what happened was, I was deeply moved to write about the way fellow believers are being used in the lives of others. The ultimate purpose was to show God’s hand in the lives of His people, but the secondary purpose was for an encouragement to those who labor for the gospel – and maybe never hear of the fruit it’s produced.

So, I wrote a poem about it. I’m not going to post it here because I’m thin-skinned about that sort of thing. It was never something that was supposed to be public anyway, as I was led to give it to certain people – which I did.

Last night I shared a bit of my life with a friend, and how someone who labors in the field deeply touched my life and gave me so much encouragement, years ago. She understood what I was talking about and it was nice to be able to discuss something like that with someone who “gets it”. For me, this is one the richest parts of true Christian fellowship, when you can unload your heart in praise for the great things God is doing (or has done) and the person you’re telling gets just as excited as you are. How cool is that? There’s a connection there that we all have with other believers when it comes to this, that really does make them feel like family, even if we’ve just met for the first time. This is something friendships in the world can’t offer, because they are temporary, earth-bound, limited.

My purpose for writing tonight however, wasn’t about that part of Christian fellowship per se. More than anything, it’s a great big burden on my heart to tell people when they’ve said something, written something, or done something that caused me to think, repent, feel loved, or expressed what I could not say (but wanted to), due to either limited knowledge and understanding, or deep grief and emotional trials. I’ve been through some pretty difficult stuff in my 42 years, and God has always been faithful to bring alongside those who minister to me in huge ways, during those times. This is no small matter to me, and I know that when you minister (in a variety of ways, not just pastoring or the textbook definition of ministering) it’s good to hear from time to time that what you’re doing for the Lord, is truly making a difference in someone’s life.

So the thing is this... and it’s really simple stuff:

If someone is currently blessing you or has been a blessing in your walk, take the time to tell them. Call them if you can, or email them, or send a card. Find a nice way to lift their hearts and know that they have indeed blessed you and strengthened you. For all you know, they may be questioning themselves at every turn and wondering what in the world they’re doing, but silently praying and hoping that God is indeed using them somehow, to edify others in the body. For all you know, they might be broken and hurting on the inside, dealing with all sorts of personal situations that make their lives miserable, but suffering silently and serving, instead of putting their own needs first.

It might just be, that a word of encouragement from you, back to them, is just exactly what it was they needed to hear, right at that moment. Like a sudden rain shower on a hot summer day, your words might be the most soothing and refreshing thing they’ve heard all day. We’re supposed to be doing this anyway, edifying the body and encouraging one another in Christ. I wish I saw more of this. I wish I did more of it myself. I’m aiming for that, but I know I still don’t do it as much as I think I should.

Good News (for a change)

A hearty amen to this decision. It's good to read news like this.

And You Are NOT Shutting Up

I was thinking. I know, that’s a frightening idea, but it does happen from time to time. I try to do most of that sort of thing on Tuesdays, and free up the rest of the week for more important things like laundry, creating new designs for t-shirts, and eating cheetos.

However, Tuesday is over so I'm a day behind.

My kids have this funny thing they do when they're little. Everyone's kids do this, so this will seem quite familiar to you. When they're little, they say things that they think are correct, or even clever, that are either quite hilarious or make no sense whatsoever. My almost 4 yr old Ruth used to say, when she was extremely frustrated with one of her older siblings:

"You are a BABY and you are SHUTTING UP!"

I can only assume in her little brain she thought calling someone a baby was the worst thing you could say to someone, and telling them they are shutting up, was as mean as you could get. In our family, because we're so full of baloney this way, sayings like that become a family thing, and you'll hear the adults saying it too, just for fun.

So I wonder, as it pertains to keeping your thoughts to yourself, about a question that seems to come up quite often in blogging.

At what point do you NOT say “this was really bad, I didn’t like it, and here’s why”? Now, you might be talking about a book, a movie, a blog post, a sermon or any number of other things that someone else might read, see, hear, purchase, etc. But the question is, is there ever really a time that you shouldn’t express your opinion of the ‘thing’, and just keep your opinion to yourself?


In the blog world, part of what makes the various blogging communities so interesting and at times so very helpful, is the free exchange of ideas and opinions. If enough people really like or really dislike something and post positive or negative reviews on it, that blogfluence (new word, I just made it up, you like?) determines whether that “thing” flies or dies. It’s just the way it is. That kind of influence to shape what the general public thinks about a thing, is no longer solely in the hands of mainstream media or brilliant marketing minds. In 2007, bloggers have a large voice in that arena as well. Pretty fascinating thought, no? (And quite scary too, if you consider what a responsibility that really is to blog well).

It seems though that among some Christian bloggers, there is a tendency for some folks to not want to see anything negative. For example (and this is ficticious) let’s say Joe Blogger writes a book on the fine art of fresh guava carving for profit. Huge market for that, I know. Let’s also say for example that in reality it’s the DUMBEST book in the history of all dumb books, but because Joe Blogger is popular, charming and clever, the dumb guava book flies off the shelves, to the dismay of many.

Now, along come some honest bloggers and say essentially “Joe might be a great guy, but this was a really dumb book, don’t waste your money”. Well, Joe Blogger's faithful fans get a bee in their collective bonnet and can’t handle the idea that someone critiqued ole Joe and his tropical fruit carving skills.

Joe's fans & friends defend him and his honor and his critics defend their right to find the entire subject ridiculous, and their right to dislike guava carving books.

The next big blog war breaks out and it’s another chapter in Christian blogging history. It's all over in a week or two, but everyone remembers the "guava war" and who said what, and to whom, and the 90 billion comments that resulted.

So I wonder, in cases LIKE this, when – if ever – it’s better to keep your opinions to yourselves, and/or if it’s more beneficial and helpful to say the things that ought to be said, regardless of the perceived tone, or the potential fallout. (In this case the critique ought to have been offered, lest people waste their hard earned money on a dumb book when they could have bought a James White book instead).

While my “for example” was meant to be humorous, there are plenty of real life Christian blogging community examples that I’m sure you can think of that might fit into this scenario. I don’t want to single one of those out, because my question is a general one for consideration and discussion on the topic.

I look forward to your thoughts on this. This is the part where you comment and either vent about this topic, or share your wisdom and give the rest of us something to think about.

Ready.... GO!

:-)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Penny For Your Thoughts – a meme

time keeps on tickin'... Alternately titled for you classic rock music buffs – the: If I Could Save Time in a Bottle meme.


Okay this one’s easy and fun. The idea for this actually came to me while I was doing chores this morning. Yep, I blame housework for meme ideas.

Grab 10 coins out of your pocket, purse, couch cushion or wherever it is you keep your loose change. You have to have 10 uniquely dated coins, so if you get a duplicate, pull out another until you have 10 unique dates. See? Easy.

Next, tell your readers a little about YOU, the year that coin was minted.

Here’s mine:

1961: My mom was thinking just how much she’d love to have a brilliant, beautiful, witty, obedient little girl. Three years later she got me, instead. Sorry mom.

1973: I was 8 years old and living in the white house on the corner with the pear tree in the yard. My biggest worry was walking my bike to the corner gas station to pump a flat tire, or if Dairy Queen was out of pineapple for their amazing pineapple milkshakes.

1974: I was 9 and still living in the same place. This was the year I started keeping a diary, and decided Bobby Baker was the cutest boy in the world. My friend Kaola (pronounced Kay-ah-la) was a Bay City Rollers junkie, and I discovered Fleetwood Mac that summer. For the record, the mid 70’s were hands down the most endearing times of my life.

1978: 14 years old and would enter highschool in the fall. Terrified of the idea, and wished I was back in 1974 all over again. Fleetwood Mac made way for a time of Rush, Journey, James Taylor, Chicago, The Eagles, Kansas, Boston and Bread. Some of those stuck for a few years, others didn’t. I still love many of those.

1986: I would turn 22 at the end of the year, and I was married that year to my late husband Ben, on Valentine’s Day. We also had Jennifer that year. It was one of the very best years of my life. (Even if I did discover metal and become a headbanger. Thankfully, that didn’t last too long and drain bamage was minimal).

1993: Turned 29 that year and we were living back in WA after twice moving to the California desert, and twice moving back. This was the mid-way point of Ben’s battle with cancer and a year before we both got saved.

1998: I turned 34 at the end of that year. I remarried that year to Kev and moved to Canada. Huge life change and genuinely happy again for the first time in a very long time. I laughed more that year, than I ever thought humanly possible.

2002: 38 years old by year’s end and would discover right before Christmas that I was pregnant with baby #7. Moved out of the city and into the country (where we still live now) and lived through driving in my very first whiteout/blizzard. It was very cool, but don’t try this at home. In fact, stay home in a blizzard, and eat pie or cheetos or something else fattening and mood altering.

2004: Turned 40 that year & started a blog. I know, what was I thinking??? I guess this was my mid-life crisis?

2006: 42 years old and still living in the country, still blogging. Oldest two daughters are moved out on their own, and I became a GRANDMA in August. We also found a new home church this year, and we’re still there, loving it more and more all the time.

Now, I rarely tag people on memes (because most people think memes are stupid and a waste of time, and they think you’re a dipstick if you do them) but this time I’m tagging:

James (because I know he wont do it, and if he does I'll fall out my window in shock)
Jen (because she cracks me up)
Nathan (because he’s in Atlanta and I love Georgia)
Kim (because she tells a story like you were there, and it’s very cool)
Eddie (because I can and because he already knows I’m a dipstick)

Now wasn't that fun?

Hold The Tongue and Gimme a Side of Hush, Please

I think I've used this real life example before, but I'm going to use it again. It seems to come up with me often enough that it's too good a lesson to ignore.

Some years ago we lived next door to a couple of foul mouthed sisters. One of the sisters had a daughter the same age as our second oldest, and they liked to play together from time to time. One day the girls had some sort of falling out, and Jennifer came home upset. To her it was a big deal, but in reality it was just one of those "kid things" that really wasn't a big issue. If I recall correctly, I simply encouraged her to give it some time and maybe talk to the girl in the next few days.

Well, that night after dinner came a knock on the door. It was either the mother or the aunt, I can't recall for sure because they were identical twins. Both had a mouth like a drunken sailor, and both were loud. Whichever one it was, as soon as I opened the door, she started in. Whatever it was that Jennifer and her kid had the falling out over, she took personally and was as ticked off as ticked off gets. She let me have it with both barrels and every filthy, obscene, profane, insulting word you can think of - directed at my parenting, my character and Jennifer's character. I was actually okay (for the most part) until she began using obscene words to describe my then 12 yr old daughter. That's when anger in me began to build up very quickly. I felt so defensive on behalf of someone I cared deeply for, that I was "that close" to losing my own temper and tempted to give this woman flying lessons (right off my porch). Chalk that up to "mama bear" syndrome.

This is the part where it actually gets sorta comical (although I was not seeing the humor in it at the time). I literally bit my tongue, put my clenched fist behind my back and silently prayed while being assaulted verbally with all kinds of disgusting words. The lady on my porch wanted me to physically fight with her, and she was taunting me, trying to get me to step outside. I just stood in my doorway biting my tongue, tasting the blood in my mouth, and keeping my fist behind my back (I didn't want her to see it and think she was getting to me but it just kept clenching into a fist!) and praying these words:

"Lord, please shut my mouth!"


He was faithful to do just that. Finally, the woman took a breath (or ran out, one or the other) and I simply said something along the lines of "thank you for your opinion" and I closed my door. She screamed and carried on out there on the porch for a few more minutes, hit or kicked the door a couple of times, but I locked the door and went into the other room.

That was one of the hardest confrontations I have ever had as a Christian and I'll likely remember it for the rest of my life (unless I have another one much worse). There was a time that Mouthy Neighbor Lady wouldn't have had 30 seconds to speak before things would have gotten right ugly, right quick - but that was the old me, and not the ambassador of Christ.

I used that example because it's one of those things for me that the Lord is still working on. We all have a weakness or a button that is easily pushed, and there are so many times that for me, that I want so badly to say something, but I know that it's my flesh itching to speak, and not coming from a thoughtful, reasoned, prayed-about reaction. I know that for me, when my flesh wants to speak, it's the best time to shut up. I don't always do it, and I so wish I would.

If you know someone like this - someone who often spouts off and says something that wasn't the most brilliant thing to say, you should add them to your prayer list. For us believers that have this weakness, it's a miserable struggle to have. There are even times when speaking up should indeed take place, but our timing isn't always the best, and if it's done without careful, cautious consideration, we might be doing more harm than good.

Oh, and in case anyone might be wondering if I stuck my foot in my mouth recently, the answer is no. I was just reading something yesterday that made me think of being slow to speak, and wanted to put this reminder out there for others who might also have this weak spot in their lives. Besides, I don't post all the dumb things I do. Only a serious weirdo would do that.

:-)

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Old Paths

I've mentioned before that we sing/teach the older hymns to the kids. We've taken a little bit of a break from that over the last few months since the music they learned for our Christmas concert, but we've recently gone back to nightly hymn singing.


One of the things I like to do from time to time is go back to a hymn they learned a a year or more ago, and see if they remember all the words. Some of them they do, like Onward Christian Soldier (they love that one, they get to stand up and march!), but many of them they tend to forget the lyrics, and only sometimes remember the chorus.


One current example of that is Victory in Jesus. It's been a few years since they first learned it, and when they did learn it, it was all by repetition, since none of them could read yet. Now that they can all read (except for Ruth) I print out a copy of the lyrics for each of them so they can sing along with words in hand. It makes a big difference in how fast they learn new songs, and refresh their memories of the older ones.

I'm a firm believer in the idea that all kids should know the old hymns. Maybe that makes me old fashioned, or maybe that makes me culturally irrelelvent - I really couldn't care less. I know there is nothing sweeter than hearing little kids sing songs such as Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah or Be Thou My Vision. Old songs rich in doctrine that exalt the Lord's grace and mercy, sung by wee little voices.

I hope some day they appreciate that their mother made them learn the old hymns. I hope someday they teach them to their children, and let it be a family tradition for generations to come.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

And...

We're back!


crazy kids


We had fun, as usual. It was a bit too cold for swimming but that didn't stop those crazy kids. We allowed them to wade in, and before we left the beach we had to strip them down to their drawers and cover them in towels. Yep, they went swimming in their clothes. Like I said, crazy kids!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Saturday Stuff

I learned something about myself today, that I never knew before. While going through the selection of books & resources at my book blog to add categories for each, this is what I learned about me:

Those numbers after the categories indicate how many resources are in that particular category. So far (and I'm not done yet!) there are over 80 categories/authors listed in a combined list, to make navigating the blog a little easier - to find what you're looking for. Out of that list, those 5 categories above, are the top five.

So what I learned about myself was this: of all the books that get my attention the most, books I've either read, want to read, and/or think others should read, those are the topics that catch my eye the most. The top three aren't really a surprise or anything, since I'm a mother and a wife, so parenting, family and gift giving is all part & parcel of who I am/what I do.

I was pleased however to notice that discipleship and pastoral works were also in the top five. I think that means I know I need more discipling (that may well indeed qualify for the understatement of the decade), and books written for pastors, by pastors, or to edify leadership in the local church are all books that are dear to me.

It's not very often I discover something about myself that I didn't already know, so this was interesting to me today to notice.

Name Above AllNot that it has anything to do with me, except for the fact that I created it, this is my newest addition at the store. I've been wanting to do this one for about a year now, and for some reason just never got to it. I finished this tonight, and I think I was probably motivated by noting the fact that I know how much more I have to learn, and grow in grace.

Like most all things at the store, this design is available on mens, womens, kids and a decent selection of gift items. Of all the designs I've done over the years, I think I'm the most pleased with this one right here.

With that said, I'm leaving. Not for good or anything like that, but tomorrow morning we're piling all sleepy kids in the van and heading for the beach. We'll be back sometime late Sunday.

Have a great weekend and be sure to spend the Lord's Day in His house, with His people, if at all possible.

See ya!

Blog Updates

I'm in the process of updating Sovereign Grace Books. The overall layout will change a little bit before I'm done, and I have a LONG way to go before the Categories/Author list is finished (or at least current) but I hope that this update makes it a more enjoyable place to find a great book.


Your thoughts and/or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Basic Public School: 101

It occured to me today, that people who say "I hate to say I told you so... but..." don't really hate to say it, or they wouldn't say it in the first place. Those are folks who actually like to get that last dig in, and want to make sure you know that's what they're doing.

The reason I thought of this, was because of a news item I read the other day. I'm not going to say "told ya so" because the only time I ever say that anyway, is in a joking way. There is nothing funny about this. Besides, this isn't a way to get a dig in, this should be at least a small wake up call to parents with kids in public schools. If you can't take them out and educate them with alternative methods - at the very least you NEED to be aware of what they're being required to listen to in those public schools.

The headline reads "Have sex, do drugs,' speaker tells students" and the story that follows explains that a public high school brought in a guest speaker as part of an assembly that was sponsored by the University of Colorado's Conference on World Affairs. The particular genius that delivered the message to the young people that the headline imparts, was Joel Becker, an associate clinical professor of psychology at the University of California at Los Angeles. According to Becker, his reason for saying this was because kids are going to have sex and do drugs anyway, so he was going to encourage them to do it appropriately. Becker was quoted as saying:

"I think as a psychologist and health educator, it is more important to educate you in a direction that you might actually stick to. So, I am going to stay mostly on with the sex side because that is the area I know more about. I want to encourage you to all have healthy, sexual behavior."

Now, if Becker's "direction" was a Biblical one, maybe one that contained a strong message on marriage being between a man and a woman, and young people remaining pure until marriage, then that would have been a fantastic message. Unfortunately, that is not what Becker's direction was. According to at least one family who's 10th grade daughter was required to be in attendance at the panel discussion called STDs: Sex, Teens and Drugs, teenage abstinence was dismissed as an unwise choice and indicative of religious hang-ups.

Now that was all according to this article here, at WND.

I read this a few days ago and haven't been able to get it off my mind. I hate it when news items do that to me, but there must be a good reason for it so I'm just going to vent here and hope it serves as beneficial for someone.

First off - this is nothing new. Messages like this are delivered in public schools every single day all across the US and Canada and the rest of the world. They actually start in pre-K here in Canada, and at least kindergarten in the states. They start with endoctrinating our kids into a tolerance and acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle. Classroom discussions, written school policies and libraries stocked with books that promote the gay agenda make it a sure bet that kids in public schools are hearing this message from the time they step foot into the public system. And this is just where it starts, folks. So you're at home teaching your kids what the Bible says, and the local school district is busy promoting the PC gay agenda to your kids from the time they're 5 years old. If you're going to have your kids in public schools, you'd be wise to know that this is what's going on there. Don't be caught off guard by the time your kids are in highschool and stories like this are hitting the media. Don't be shocked when by the time they're in middle school (that's 12 yrs old, folks) they're being given or have access to birth control information and contraceptive devices and abortion providers through the local school district. You realize of course your kids are going to sin anyway, so the local public schools just want to make sure they sin safely. Get it?

Secondly, we should expect no less than this, from an ungodly, unBiblical, anti-Christian source, such as the government run, government funded school system. This is not a "bash public schooling" piece, this is reality. If as Christians we don't expect the unsaved to act as if they are saved, let's not whip out the rose colored glasses and expect the local anti-Christian school districts to act like they are pro-Christian morality. They're NOT. Sure, there might be (and probably are - God bless their hearts) Christian teachers in the local public system, and the influence they have is not to be ignored or gone without praise. However, those Christian teachers are under the same contract to the local government run school just like the non-Christian teachers, and there is only so much they can say, or do, in an official teaching capacity. For most of the kids in the schools, these Christian teachers are not the dominant influence in their lives, in that public school setting. That role goes to the liberal, anti-God, pro-whatever-floats-yer-boat position of the other teachers, counsellors, and various other school officials.

Again I say, this is not a public school bashing piece - it's reality. For a lot parents with kids in public school, the time comes when they say "I had no idea they were teaching that" as it pertains to something coming home from school. If those kids are going to be there, we as their parents need to have every idea of what they're being exposed to so that we can counter it with truth. If such error goes unchecked in a direct, one on one way (parent and kid), that error begins to take root very quickly and soon becomes just a "normal" thing.

I'm not a specialist in the field of social trends (you're shocked, I know) but I can tell you that I come from a generation of teenagers that would have been genuinely disgusted to hear a pro-gay message at some kind of public event. If at 15 years old my peers and I were exposed to something like this, the vast majority of us would have been offended, and known that homosexuality (or pro-abortion, or pro-premarital sex) is just wrong, on every level. This is not to say that the kids of my generation didn't sin too - we did - but we KNEW it was wrong and we knew why.

Would any group of 15 year old kids react the same way today? Are they offended or repulsed at pro-homosexual messages, pro-abortion rallies, or the idea that birth control is available to them? Not in the least! To them, this is normal - they've been hearing about it and being endoctrinated with it since they were little. Guess where that comes from? You got it, the public school system. They are not offended by it, they are not against it, and they are not the least bit shy in telling you about it. To them, it's normal - and you're the freak if you feel differently about it.

If that doesn't disturb you on many levels, it should. This is error gone unchecked after years and years of subtle (and not so subtle) pro-liberal-pro-sin agendas being taught to kids in public schools. We can't expect anything different from the lost who are in authority over our kids, and we'd BETTER be about the business of knowing what it is they're teaching our kids. Don't be one of those parents that says "oh man, I had NO idea!"

In all of this, I know someone is bound to accuse me of distrusting God's sovereignty in our children's lives. I know this because it happens when I write about this. Well, they say, "if you REALLY believed in the sovereignty of God, you'd be okay with kids in ungodly, immoral, pro-garbage public schools". Wrong, but thanks for coming out.

In as much as I do not intentionally feed my kids poision, or set them in the middle of an intersection to play, or encourage them to talk to unfamiliar men in the playground looking for a lost puppy, I do not knowingly put my kids in harms way and use God's sovereignty as an excuse to do so. Can He protect them? Of course He can. But does He allow them to suffer for their parents unwise choices? Well, how many of YOU would be willing to take that test and sit your toddler in the busy intersection of your hometown? None of you? Yeah, I didn't think so - and I wouldn't dare to accuse you of distrusting in the sovereignty of God, either. I'd call you a smart parent who loves their kids and wants to protect them as much as it's within your ability to do so.

The bottom line is simply this:

Know what's being taught to your kids, no matter what setting they're in. Be involved in their lives, talk to them, listen to them, and listen closely. You only get one shot at raising them - and it's a huge responsibility to do it right. I couldn't have written this with any certainty when my children were small. Now that some of them are adults (and one of them is almost there) I know much better than I did then, and I see at least some the results (both good and bad) of the choices I made for them, in educating them. Experience, as they say, is an amazing teacher.

I'm so proud of myself

You Are 16% Feminist

You are definitely not a feminist. In fact, you are every feminist's worst nightmare.
You believe that women belong in the kitchen.... barefoot and pregnant.


To celebrate finally doing something right, I think I'll take my shoes off and bake cookies.

Store Stuff

Reflections Weekly is now online (e-mail subscribers get yours tomorrow).

Just fyi.

Up a Tree

RipleyWhen I was a little kid, any time I wanted to get away from everyone there was one place I knew I could go where no one would follow me. Yep, way up in the top of the pear tree, where no one in their right mind would follow. From up there I could be alone to think, to watch the birds, and have a great view of the entire neighborhood. No one would bother me because no one else was dense enough to climb as high as I always did.

This morning Rachel came inside and told me we had another raccoon in the tree. A few nights ago we had one sleeping in the juniper tree outside the kitchen window, and a few hours after it got dark, he was gone. More than likely it was this same little guy right here, who today chose the walnut tree in the front yard, for his nap time. Every once in a while he'd open his eyes and shift his position a little, but otherwise he snoozed there in the same spot for about 14 hours today.


Up a tree

It's sort of funny, but if he was trying to pick THE noisest place in the whole world to sleep, he did a fine job. Between kids that refused to leave him alone all day (for the record, raccoons do not come to "here kitty kitty"), 2 cats and 2 dogs that are as obnoxious as the day is long - this was in fact the worst place he could have picked to have a good day's sleep. Yet, it didn't seem to bother him in the least.

More than likely, he knew no one was coming up the tree to hassle him. Maybe I was on to something when I was a little kid? Maybe the next time I really want to be left alone I'll climb up the closest tree and go all the way to the top, like I did when I was 10.

Nahhh... I'd fall out. My claws aren't nearly as long as Ripley's. Yep, I named him. Blog readers, meet Ripley the Raccoon.

:-)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Prayer Request for Family Members

I have some prayer requests that I'd like to share with my readers. I don't do this very often but this is family - and so are you.


1. My step brother David passed away earlier this month. My mom and his dad were married after us kids were all grown up and living lives of our own, so I never even had the opportunity to meet him in all those years (he lived in California and I was in WA and here in Canada). Please remember his two sons and his widow in your prayers. I've never lost a parent but my girls have, and I know how painful it is for them. I also know what it's like to be a widow, and how painful that is as well. I do not know the spiritual condition of this family so you might want to add that in your prayers as well.


2. I received an email from my mom this morning that my cousin Robin was headed into surgery for cancer. I don't know what kind of cancer or anything else about that. Robin and I spent a lot of time together at my gma's house when we were growing up, but have never stayed in touch after we grew into adulthood. I don't know her spiritual condition either.


3. Robin's younger brother Marc was in an accident with a semi, and his car was completely totalled. Mom said he got out with only minor injuries. Robin and Marc's parents (my aunt & uncle) have a lot on their plate right now with these two situations so I am asking that you pray for them as well.


Thanks for taking the time to read this, and I will update as soon as I know more.

Contest entries, anyone?

Well I'm very excited now, we have 3 entries in the BEST DAD EVER contest. Come on folks, get those links a rollin'! :-)


Be sure to leave your link or entry in the comment section here, so I don't have to throw my hands up in the air in frustration because I forgot where the link was located. I get scatterbrained rather easily so please take it easy on me.

You may email me your entry if you prefer to do that.

Pacing

Yesterday morning on the way home from running errands I turned on the local Christian radio station. It doesn't come in very clearly where we live, but I can get it on the radio in the van, and I remembered Pastor John MacArthur was on at that hour and I very much enjoy listening to him. Yesterday's message was delivered to seminary students, and it was about pacing yourself in your preaching. While it was directed to pastors, I got a lot out of it as it pertains to studying the Scritpures as well. The one thing pastor John emphasized was that it's always better to go slow, than to go fast and zip through any text. Gaining a deep understanding by taking your time through any text, is always better than having a surface knowledge.

I thought about how that also applies to Christian blogging. More directly to the point was how it applies to my Christian blogging. Pacing yourself in this realm is important too, since a thorough post is much better than an off-the-cuff type of post.

We've all read the excellent posts out there on Christian blogging - all the do's and don'ts and how to make your blog a good resource and an edifying place for people to visit. Well, yesterday I did a DON'T and I wanted to clear that up.

In my post about church worship music, I might have made it appear that I was being snarky about my church. Indeed I was not. I love my church and I'm grateful to have one to worship in, where solid truth is preached from the Scriptures. If I had to make a list of all the great things about my church, and then make another list of all the things where my church could improve, the "great things" list would be huge, and the "areas to improve" would be so small, you'd all move to Ontario just to go to my church. :-)

In Christian blogging - it's wise to compose and save, and publish later after proofing & editing at least one more time - especially if it's an important topic (as opposed to recipes, pics of beagles & stuff like that, you know?) I didn't do that yesterday and I'm sorry for that.

With all of that said - the topic of worship music is a legitimate one, and I appreciate the suggestions you all left in the comments and/or email. In my own personal situation, I am certain that I'm far more likely to be sensitive to this topic because of my time spent in the charismatic/free will church in the 90's.

And now, I have things to do in and around the house. If you wanted to help me strip wallpaper, feel free to come on over and bring a ladder. Samuel's ceilings are 12 feet high. Bring pie too, we'll need that for high energy levels, or something like that.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Store Stuff

I've been busy with store stuff. I've added a new page at the store with thumbnails of the full line of Christian designs - just to make it a little easier to see what you're getting at Reflections. The new page is linked right on the storefront: SEE ALL CHRISTIAN Ts HERE

When you click that link, you'll see a few changes. Here are the designs I've updated:

The 5 Solas Grace

Hope Save the Hymnals!

Sword of the Lord Theologian in Training

I don't have any plans to update any more of the current designs, but I do have plans to continue creating many new designs. I've had numerous requests over the last few months for all sorts of things and it's only been in the last few weeks I've really been able to get on that. I'm looking forward to this - I love to create new designs & give folks something they can be encouraged to wear, for a witness of His name.

These posts about 'store stuff' almost never get any comments, and that's fine. Do yourself a favor though and click the link and take a look at what we've got in store. There might actually be something there you can't live without. ;-)

I'll get back to that Worship Music topic in the morning - Lord willing. I do appreciate your thoughts on that though, and it has not gone ignored.

And we got NUTTIN'

By the way...


The BEST DAD EVER Father's Day Giveaway Contest is now officially open and we have exactly ZERO entries so far. Zero entries isn't what I was hoping for.


Surely someone has something deeply touching to share about their father (or father figure) that they'd like to submit as their entry? Maybe everyone's still working on it. Yeah... I'll assume thats whats happening.

Worshipful?

As busy and fun-filled as my weekend was (and it was), something happened on Sunday that I have a hard time getting off my mind. I've written about this before but it seems like whenever I do write about it I never quite say what it is that I wanted to say. Or maybe it's that the situation doesn't change, and so it feels like saying anything about it was fruitless. I'm not really sure but it's a frustrating thing for me, and Kev and I discussed it on the way home from church, and again yesterday morning.


This thing I refer to is church worship music. Specifically, those songs that are chosen for the congregation to sing in worship, that are so man-centered and filled with bad doctrine I honestly can't bring myself to sing the words. I can't sing them because I don't agree with them - which leaves me in an awkward place, standing with the congregation to sing, but my lips aren't moving. (I have a hunch there are more than a few people out there that know exactly what I'm talking about?)

It seems there are 2 kinds of worship songs. Those that exalt the glorious attributes of God and His grace toward undeserving sinners - and those that focus specifically on the feelings of men towards Him. I am not without feeling or emotion, and I completely get wanting to express my love for my God. The problem though, or so it seems, is that so many of these kinds of songs that focus on men's feelings were written by those that don't actually believe in the sovereignty of God in the salvation of man. Boiled down to two things, these songs simply say "I love the Lord that I chose to follow". In other words - it's all about me. WRONG.

It's all about Him. Always has been, always will be. Always should be.

Rant over.

Monday, May 21, 2007

And it's a wrap

Well, if there is such a thing as a really really good end to a really good weekend, I had one of those today. We didn't find what we were looking for at the whoop-dee-doo community yard sale, but we did manage to pick up 2 books (Sproul and someone else I forgot), a beautiful twin comforter with tulips on it, and a very cool kitchen spice/towel rack - all for just $8.00. I love yard sales. I'll be having one of my own this summer.

live blogging from my deckOur company arrived right on time and as you can tell from the smiles in this picture, she did not bring her toothpaste tube-eatin'-beagle. Instead, she brought a homemade apple pie, to go along with my homemade caramel coffee cake. Yep, we had caramel apple pie-cake for dessert! We also had a couple of coyotes entertain us in the field while we sat on the deck after dinner - that was pretty nifty. In case you were wondering, YES we talked about you, and you, and probably you too. We also discussed Arminianism, Calvinism, good books, raising kids, Presbyterianism and a whole bunch of other stuff. Essentially, we audio-blogged in person - like people used to do before they blogged. (And if that makes sense, you win a prize).

Today capped off a good weekend, and tomorrow we begin winding down our school year. Only three more weeks and we're done until September. It's really amazing to me how fast the school years seem to fly past. I only wish summer lasted a little longer than it does, that's never long enough.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

What I Did On My May Two Four Long Weekend, by Carla Rolfe

Alternately titled: This Is What Some People Do When Gas is $1.10 a Liter and Your Holiday Weekend is Up in Smoke

Well the long weekend still has one more day to go, but here's what I did so far:


On Friday I mowed down the jungle that is supposed to be our badminton court. Before I did that though, I had to pull all the broken limbs out of the tall grass - from the tree that fell during our last ice/wind storm. Getting that out of the way took a while first, and then I mowed.


After that, I fixed a broken link in a swing on the swingset, mowed my faerie garden & put all the faeries back where they belong (they hibernate in the winter - betcha didn't know that - didja?)

Then, I did a little bit of weeding around my currant bush/strawberry bed, but gave up because 1. I was dog tired and 2. the weeds are thick. I'll get back to that another day. Friday night was movie/pizza night with the added bonus of chocolate fondue & a fruit tray. Oh man... chocolate fondue and fresh pineapple? What a way to go, that's all I can say.

On Saturday, I dropped Jessica off at the church so her and a friend could meet up there and go goof off in town for the day - then I went grocery shopping and bought a dog brush to brush our poor, ancient border collie (who resembles a neglected stuffed animal just now). Came home, brushed out the dog and stripped some more wallpaper from Samuel's walls. Saturday night watched The DaVinci Code on a movie channel and traded commentary back and forth with Kev about Gandalf being gay, and lunatic secret societies, revisionist history, and the fact that the RC church has nothing to do with Biblical Christianity in the first place. I still like Tom Hanks, even though that was a wretched movie.

Sunday I went to church & heard a great sermon on Abraham being an example of obedient, hopeful and surrendering faith. Yes pastor Ken is still in Hebrews and if it takes him another 6 months to get through the hall of faith, I'm completely okay with that. He's a great preacher and this is a great place in Scripture to spend lots of time.

Sunday is not over yet so I have no idea what else I'm going to do today, but it wont be outside because it's windy (wind is evil) and chilly.

Tomorrow morning is the whoop-dee-doo of all local area, community yard sales and that's where I'll be at 8 am - Lord willing. Don't have but a few bucks to take with me but the amazing thing about this yard sale is, you take $20 and you COULD come home with $200 worth of stuff you needed/wanted. I'm good with that.

I will come home and make a to DIE for sour cream/cinnamon/caramel coffee cake, Kev will barbeque his world famous burgers, and friends from down south will come over. Okay they're not THAT far south, just an hour or so down the highway. They will not be bringing their toothpaste-eating-beagle, because 2 terrorist beagles in one house is too much for any self respecting Christian women to be expected to tolerate.

We'll eat, talk, laugh, talk about all of you, and then I will crash and sleep like a log - completely worn out from a long weekend.

We couldn't afford to go anywhere or even buy fireworks (#sob!#) but it's been a good weekend all the same.

Oh, and somwhere in there I managed to do this too:

New Stuff

And now... I have to go find something useful to do around my house. I think I'll fold some May Two Four laundry & pretend we're at the cottage. Or... maybe I'll just take a nap?

:-)

Saturday, May 19, 2007

It's a Baby

I sometimes jokingly say that I’m never going to read or watch the news again. Of course I don’t really mean I’m going to stick my head in the sand and ignore what’s going on in the world (or the smaller world around me) but it sure is tempting at times. Especially when it seems like all you ever see in the news is more and more evidence of man’s depravity and the depths to which human wickedness can go. Sometimes reading about it or watching it on tv is just too much, so I do go for a day or two at times without reading any news, but that’s on a very rare occaision. More realistically, I check the news first thing in the morning and then again in the evening – and just skim the headlines for articles that catch my interest.

That’s what I did yesterday when I came across this particular article that absolutely infuriated me. I wanted nothing more than to write about it at the time, but I had things to do yesterday that prevented me from really investing the time into sitting and writing, so I just set it aside. I tried not to think about it (much) and sort of hoped it would drift out of my thoughts. That didn’t happen, as I haven’t been able to get it off my mind all day today.

The gist of the article was that a 22 yr old woman was arrested and initially charged for having a “fetus” in her freezer. At first report the authorities didn’t seem to know how old this “fetus” was, and were considering charging this young woman with some sort of a charge relating to improper handling of a human corpse. The problem was, the “fetus” (according to the law in the state where this was discovered) couldn’t be legally considered a human being unless it was over a certain amount of weeks old. According to one report:

“Lt. Daniel Herrmann said the abuse of a corpse charge applies only to human beings. Under the law, he said, a fetus is not considered a human being.” – source

Therefore, the young woman can’t be charged with anything if the “fetus” was under the age guidelines. As it turns out, the baby was the young woman’s and she miscarried at 20 weeks. Her motives are not explained in the story but legally she didn’t do anything to be charged with and yet she’s still in jail. Most folks wouldn’t do that if they lost a baby, but for whatever reason, she did.

Now you’ll notice everywhere I used the word “fetus” I used it in this way. Let’s make something clear right off the bat – we’re talking about a BABY here, and everyone knows it. Using a different word doesn’t change what that baby was. Sadly, our sick and twisted society has become so brainwashed into such nonsense that even the mainstream media thinks they’re going to alter the impact somehow of a story like this if they use the word “fetus”. I couldn’t help but wonder if it were discovered that this baby were indeed over the “can’t be considered a human being” age limit, if updates to the story would no longer contain the word “fetus” but instead, the baby would be called a baby?

Which brings me to my next point, and what really made me angry to begin with (and caused Kev to hear a little mini-sermon before I left to run errands yesterday morning), and that is, that we (civilized society?) actually have a law on the books somewhere that dictates to us WHEN a human being can be legally considered a human being. Of course this isn’t anything new, but every time it comes up it ticks me off all over again. Are we really and truly that stupid, that we have to be told when or IF a baby is technically a human being? Apparently we are, since we had to put laws in place to tell us what to think about babies, and when they become human beings.

I fully realize that part of the whole insane Pro Death v. Pro Life debate consists of the“what defines a human being?” question but the interesting thing is that one dictionary definition simply says:
“A member of the genus Homo and especially of the species H. sapiens.” – American Heritage Dictionary
In case no one was looking, a baby in utero cannot be anything other than a member of the genus Homo, and especially the species of homosapiens. And in case no one was paying attention, the irony of the source of this definition...

American Heritage?

What is exactly is our American heritage? If you stop and consider that at least in the USA that for the last 34 years (and 4 months to be exact, on the 22nd of this month) American children have grown up in a culture that teaches them life is not precious, and human babies can be called something other than babies (or humans) and they are disposable. Yes indeed, since January 22, 1973, we have raised our children in a culture of death, and then dare have the nerve to wring our hands and shake our heads in dismay and shock when our young people in society commit heinous and brutal crimes against other people. I ask again, are we really that stupid? Is this our American heritage?

Every time (read: every time) this subject comes up for me, I cannot help but think of this verse in Isaiah:

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! (Is. 5:20,21)

We live in a culture that calls evil (abortion) good, and good (sanctity of life) evil. It exalts darkness and runs from the light. It rejoices in the bitter and cringes at the sweet. What’s more – the source for these laws on our books and the education of Americans for the last 34+ years? That source is men and women who study and make it their business to be well educated in law, politics, religion and societal trends. They are wise – in their own eyes, and they are prudent – in their own sight, and they do and promote and support the very things God will judge them severely for.

I wont presume to know what went through the heart and mind of that 22 yr. Old woman who kept her miscarried baby in her freezer. The last I read, she’s still being held on half a million dollars bond, and still facing a charge of abuse of a corpse.

I wonder though, if she’ll be glad if the charges are dropped because the law says her baby isn’t even a baby, let alone a human being?

Changing the rules as we go along...

Just in time for it to completely mess up my store's latest giveaway, haloscan commenting appears to be on the fritz - half the time working just fine, other times not working at all.


Therefore, I've updated the official rules and will note it here as well:


You may also email your link to me, that you'd like to have considered as your Best Dad Ever contest submission.

And in other news...

Wallpaper and kids = THE dumbest idea in the history of all dumb ideas, ever.

Almost every room in my house is wallpapered. I guess it when it was all done, it was all the rage and that's what everyone was doing, or something. What I know for sure, is that either my kids are the most destructive kids on the planet, or there is just something about a loose corner of wallpaper that kids cannot resist touching and pulling. The thing is, once wallpaper has been ripped, loosened or written on - you cannot fix it - you have to remove it! Then, once you remove it, IF you don't have extra wallpaper of the same pattern or color, you have to remove it ALL, then do something about the ugly wall underneath.

GACK.

I am currently in the process of stripping the wallpaper from my 6 yr old son's room, and I'm just glad it's a fairly small room. Two summers ago I did the same thing in the girl's room - but their room is 3 times the size of his, and it took forever.

Their walls ended up apple blossom pink, with a sky blue ceiling and handpainted clouds. It's very cool, it still looks great 2 years later.

Samuel's room will be pale blue walls with a deep blue ceiling. I'm going to bleed the deep blue down into pale blue wall about 8-12 inches so that it blends nice. I'm looking forward to that part of the job. :-) A great project for those rainy spring days - and because it's such a small room, it wont take long at all to complete.

The best thing about it is, the walls will be washable and there will be no loose corners to tug on and destroy.

Wallpaper and kids... bah humbug!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Friday Fluff 'N Stuff

No Friday BlogFodder today, but instead you get a garden variety of left overs. Just a few disjointed/smallish tidbits of what's on my mind today. Some might be links, some might not:

• The Father's Day giveaway is now open - but at least 2 of you can't see but half the post. Not a clue if anyone else can see it because no one's commenting. Ahem... you can't win if you don't comment. (*snort) (You also can't enter if you can't even see the post - so if anyone else is having trouble viewing, please let me know??)

• Campi has a great post on the impeccability of Christ. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend that you do that.

Amazed by GraceThe web version of my store's newsletter is now online and you can check that out here. I've also created this new design since the newsletter went out, and it will be featured in next week's newsletter. You get the sneek peek first.

Did I mention that its my goal to become the largest, non-corny, non-lame Christian t-shirt retailer online? Well then, now that I've mentioned it, there you have it.

I have 45 exclusively Christian designs right now, but I've been able to create on average about 2 new desgins a week. At this rate, by the end of this year I'll have (rough, ballpark figures) over 100 unique Christian designs.

Considering the #1 google ranked Christian t-shirt retailer online currently has 165 designs (most of which I'd never wear even if you paid me grotesque amounts of cash, for the simple reason that they're so cheesy I'd die of humiliation as soon as I put the garment on), I'll be pretty close to that goal.

• Did you notice Blogger now has AUTO save instead of save to draft? That's right kids, blogger now autosaves your posts AS your writing them, and sends them to the drafters in case your power goes out, or aliens steal your thoughts, or any other crazy reason you have for not saving like you should have. It seems to be refreshing every minute or so, so it's a pretty nifty little improvement. We like nifty improvements, they rock.

• You know you've shirked your duties as homemaker when you clean under your 9 year old's bed and lift up the corner of the area rug to find a... very flat, very stiff.... very dead mouse. EWWWW! Ahhh, country living.

• I had a few other things on my mind but for the life of me I forgot what they were. I need an auto-save for blog thoughts. That would be handy.

Have a great Friday kids - it's movie/pizza night here in RolfeLand, and I'm making chocolate covered banana chips for treats. Mmmm...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

This morning at the feeder...

Breakfast Time




Peek-a-Boo

Store Stuff

Be Still My newest design. (See larger image here)


As with most all our designs, it comes in mens, womens, kids, gift ideas & more.


Tomorrow, we launch our Father's Day Giveaway contest. I'm really looking forward to this one.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Fit for a King?

I have a very vivid memory of my first day of school in the 7th grade. I suppose the reason the memory is so clear to me is because it was the first day of Junior High, and that was a huge deal. For the first time in my life I’d be at a different school with kids I didn’t know. I’d gone to the same school from kindergarten through 6th grade and grew up with pretty much all the same kids. Living in a military town, a lot of kids came and went, but the ones that were either non-military, or from military families with a permanent station at one of the local bases were the ones I called friends for the past 7 years of my life. I was about to meet all sorts of new kids as the only Junior High in town was on the east side (across the bridge) and all 7th & 8th graders from my town went to that school. It was a scary and exciting time, to be sure.

So there I was standing at the bus stop. First time ever riding a bus to school, and found it odd that the bus stop was right in front of the grade school I’d just spent my whole educational life, until that day. I stood there that sunny September morning, feeling a mix of various feelings, when a girl I didn’t know came to the bus stop.

The first words out of her mouth were “nice jeans, where did your mom get them, K-Mart?” I had no idea that was an insult, and I cheerfully answered “yes!” I liked my jeans, and I thought she did too – until her and her friends laughed at me. Not the best way in the world to start my Junior High career, but it was that moment in time when first occurred to me that there is something about “fitting in” that human beings desire. I’m sure I didn’t think of it in exactly that way, but that was the day the process of thinking about it in a serious way actually began.

Well, oddly enough almost 30 years later (I feel old just being able to say that), that feeling of fitting in, or not fitting in is pretty much the same feeling it was that sunny morning so many years ago.

Growing up I never really did “fit in” the way other girls did. I wasn’t nearly as interested in playing with dolls as I was jumping my bike over ramps or going crabbing, or having a jellyfish war down on the docks. Either we had the kind in Puget Sound that didn’t sting (I could easily google that, couldn’t I?) or we were too dense to care. No one I ever knew got stung, so I’ll assume it was the former.

All through junior high and high school I never fit in there either. I had friends and acquaintances in all the cliques (more or less) but I was never really part of any clique myself. I was the type that preferred to have one or two close friends (still am) rather than be a part of a group. So when high school was over I just assumed that I’d get a job, make a life, and fit in somewhere, somehow. How silly I was.

So then, what does any of this have to do with practical Christian living, you might be asking? That’s a fine question and I think it just reaffirms that God calls all kinds of people. You might be outgoing or you might be shy. You might be a loner, or introspective, creative, clumsy, phobic, allergic, fat, skinny, black, white, male, female, widowed, divorced, balding, blind, childless, a pet lover, diabetic, young or old or somewhere in between. It doesn’t matter who or what you are, if you’re called to repentance and faith in Christ, God will direct your steps in the place of service He wants you. And here’s an added cool bonus – He’ll even place people around you, that are LIKE you, that you connect with and find great fellowship and friendship with.

I remember the first time I heard the saying “God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips those that He calls.” Sure it’s corny, but I really liked it. It was comforting to me because as a person who doesn’t usually “fit in” it gave me a bit of hope that He might be able to use me too. Somehow.

Not only have the last 13 years of Christian living shown me that this is indeed true, but I've been surprised more than a few times to find out just how God did use me, usually in ways that I had no idea He was doing it. It's always a very humbling feeling to learn that somewhere among all the oddball things I say/write/create/do, that somewhere in there someone is blessed by something I did. It's a good feeling too, to know that you brought some amount of goodness and encouragement to someone who needed it, and God was 100% glorified in it.

I'll probably never fit in, in the worldly sense - and that's perfectly okay with me. As long as I keep fitting in (by His grace) in His ways, I'm happy.

Scratch an Itch?

Life is funny sometimes. By that I don’t really mean humorous, but ironic or peculiar. To give you an example of what I mean by that, a trivial thing happened to me yesterday. I was driving home from the store and suddenly I had an itch right in the center of my back. Not just “an itch”, but one of those hyper-itches, the kind that itches so bad your eyelids start to sweat and your muscles are twitching until you finally get to it. Yep, one of those kind of itches.

I finally reach my hand around behind me to scratch this insane itch, and what happens? You guessed it, it moved! Like hyper-itches always do, the second you scratch them they jump and skitter to another location and then you have to scratch there too. They never really go away, they just settle down to a tolerable level so you can get back to what you were doing. But... they always come back, sooner or later.

I couldn’t help but think about how Christian fellowship and discussion is exactly the same way as that pesky-moving-hyper-itch. Among believers there are certain hot-button topics that are sure to skitter all over the map as soon as they come up. Mode of baptism, modesty in dress, Calvinism, post-modernism, emergentism(?), female leadership, music, entertainment, parenting and the list could go on for a country mile. (I have no idea how long a country mile is, but I can only assume it’s longer than a city mile). These topics (and others) seem to have a life-cycle of their own and return to the table ever so often for more itching and scratching. In and of itself, that’s a GOOD thing, because even though they’ve been discussed countless times before (and often by the very same people many times) there’s always that possibility that someone new to the discussion is present, and may hear something they’ve never heard before, or in the case of blogging, read something they’ve never read before.

Once upon a time I used to spend pretty much all my free time (which doesn’t amount to much) in Christian chats. I still chat in #prosapologian when I can, but I don’t spend the amount of time I used to, for various reasons. Life has a way of getting in the way of quality chat time. However, #pros is the ONLY place I do chat, when I can, because the channel is run with professionalism, grace, and a healthy sense of humor. I appreciate that.

Christian chat rooms (in many ways) are much like Christian blogs. Someone brings up a topic, and whoever else present and interested, comments on the topic, which is then responded to, and more comments after that, and so on. See, very much like blogging. The one obvious difference however is that it’s live, and often people are speaking over each other in the text and it’s not always so easy to follow the flow of the discussion. Blogging has the advantage of the blogger or reader to read one point at a time and follow that flow.

In all the years I spent in Christian chats, one of the things I learned is that there is no such thing as a dead horse, when it comes to a topic of discussion that is of interest to a believer. If someone brings it up, that means they have questions that deserve honest and Biblical answers. They might not even be legit questions (chat troll-bait is common) but the one thing I always tried to keep in mind, is that no matter the motive (legit or trolling), there might be someone there just sitting quietly and reading, that has never had the opportunity to be a part of a conversation about that particular topic. I was once in a situation like that when I was first learning what the doctrines of grace are. I was truly blessed to be surrounded by believers online that were patient and gracious to answer all my stupid questions that they’d all heard a thousand times before.

In a funny way, I was that ever-annoying, hyper-itch that always returns. Of course I didn’t mean to be annoying, my questions were real and my interest was genuine – but I was among people who’d heard the same arguments and questions countless times before, and they could have easily just logged off and ignored me, weary from the discussion. They didn’t, and they blessed me more than they’ll probably ever know.

This isn’t really directed at anyone or any particular topic. It’s just a reminder that while there is a time to wipe the dust of your blogging sandals, there’s also a place for grace and longsuffering with those same topics when they come up again and again. We all have blog readers who almost never comment, until that one day when they finally do and say “you know, I’ve been reading for a long time and never commented until now...” or they email you and say the same thing. They exist, they’re reading and considering all you have to say, so what you say ought to really matter.

The verse in 1Peter 3:15 tells us that we’re to be prepared ALWAYS to give an answer to EVERY man, for the reason for the hope we have and to do it with meekness and fear. How convicting is that? I know I don’t always respond to questions that way, but I know I always should.

Just thinking outloud about this tonight. No grand finale zinger-conclusion to this post. It’s just something we would all do well to keep in mind.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Store Stuff

His Light
Designing this graphic today had nothing at all to do with the blogtroversy sparked once again by daring to suggest that Christian women dress modestly. I wasn't the one who sparked this round of blogtroversy however, that would be Mr. Dan Phillips over yonder at the FirePit.

In any event, here's my latest. Available in mens, womens, kids, mugs, tote bag, teddy bear and even a t-shirt for your doggie.