Friday, August 31, 2007

VOTE

VOTE EVERY DAY TO MAKE REFLECTIONS #1!

See that nifty little button there? Yep, it's the same one in the sidebar, same one at the store's sidebar too. I joined this TopSite "fun" t-shirt site several months ago, and thanks to YOU the readers & shoppers of Reflections, you shot my wee little store straight to the top rank. That was exceptionally cool, and I thank you immensely.

Now... the site is doing things a little differently. They're resetting the current votes at the beginning of each month. So that means, you need to go back and vote again, and then go back again every day and vote again, to keep Reflections the #1 "fun" t-shirt shop.

So there ya have it. I'd make some fluffy campaign promise but I can't think of anything exciting to offer. Maybe another giveaway before Christmas? Hmm... there's a thought.
:-)

VOTE EVERY DAY TO MAKE REFLECTIONS #1!

Friday Randomness

COOL UPDATE BELOW!

What follows is not a real blog post. Had this been an actual blogpost, you would be inclined to comment and say good stuff. This is just random stuff that doesn't fit anywhere else:

• Miracle Whip is the arminianism of sandwich spread. Real Calvinists eat mayo.


• I heard an owl outside last night but when I went out with the flashlight, I couldn't find him. Owls are very cool. A great shot of one of those would have made a stunning Friday Photo. We'll see what we can do about locating him around dusk!

• Speaking of Friday Photo, rumor has it that there's a spider the size of a moose (if I've told these kids a million times to stop embellishing, they never listen!) in the garage. I haven't seen him (or her?) yet, but I'm going in there today so I'll be sure and ask him to pose for the camera. For those of you that loathe spiders, you've been warned!


• The store's newsletter is up.


• Annette asked a great question in the combox of my Felix the Mom post.

• Speaking of great questions, pastor Paul had one this week too, about modesty and women's check lists. Ladies, go read it and tell him what you think.

• My son turns 7 on Sunday, and we're having his party tomorrow. He's requested hot dogs for dinner and strawberries and cream cake. Oh, he also wants Spiderman, robots and dinosaurs for his birthday. There was a time when he wanted nothing to do with Spiderman. He actually informed me that he (Spiderman) was very bad, and in hell. When I asked him what made him say that, he said "because he's scary and bad". Made sense to me.

• I had a few other randomish type things to say but someone just PM'd me and we have to talk about stuff now, and then I have to go make pancakes. The kids have been so helpful this week on our new chore routine, they're getting pancake day, a day early.
_________________________

very cool bug Well, it's not the moose-sized spider rumored to be living in the garage (I went in, didn't see him, but did see his web and it spans from here to Vancouver, I tell ya!) but he's even cooler!

Not a clue what he is yet, but I'm on my way to the Bug Guide to find out.

Click the image for a larger view.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Store Stuff

Reflections 2008 Bible Verse Wall Calendar And... they're done. It was a lot of work putting these together, but I loved every minute of it. Especially selecting the verses for each scene.

You can get yours here, and while you're there why not grab one of those THEOLOGY MATTERS t-shirts in the TeamApologian shop?

All proceeds from the TeamApologian shop go directly to support Alpha & Omega Ministries. These t-shirts are not only very cool, but they're selling like crazy!

THEOLOGY MATTERSLet's cover the whole continent with them!

C'mon, you KNOW you want one... (and be sure to check out the coupon savings deals in the sidebar at the store - the more you shop, the more you save! What's not to love about that, eh?)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Katrina: Two Years Later

One of the best things about the internet has to be, that you have the opportunity to meet and get to know people that otherwise you never would have known. Some might say that’s one of the worst things about it as well, since getting to know “online people” can have its downside as well, in that you spend less time getting to know the people in your own community and church. That’s one of the areas where internet use demands balance & discipline.

Over the years however, I’ve met a lot of people online that have been and continue to be a tremendous blessing to me. One of those people is Pastor Eddie Exposito of Slidell, LA. I first met him several years ago in #prosapologian, the chat channel of James White.

Eddie and his wife and children live right in the heart of where hurricane Katrina made landfall, just two short years ago. I remember it so well. I remember us watching the news constantly, hoping and praying that Eddie and his family and church family would be spared. I remember thinking of the other people I know from the internet who live either right in that same area or very close to it – and then adding them to my prayers as well. I remember it feeling like what it might be like to watch a train wreck happen while holding my breath... and not able to do anything but simply trust the Lord.

Hurricane Katrina made landfall south of New Orleans at 6:10 a.m. Aug. 29, 2005, as a strong Category 3 hurricane that flooded 80 percent of the city and killed more than 1,600 people in Louisiana and Mississippi. It was the worst natural disaster in the history of the United States.

One Sunday after the devastating storm, my son Samuel and I both stayed home from church with one form of cold or another. After breakfast that morning and after everyone else left, Samuel and I decided it would be a good time for the two of us to go through some of our family’s clothes and set aside a box of clothes and other supplies to send down to the Slidell church family. Samuel took it upon himself to go through his best clothes and tell me that there were little boys in Slidell that no longer had “good church clothes” so he wanted them to have his. A pretty noble gesture from a little boy who’s never known what it’s like to be in such a situation, and who had just turned 5 at the beginning of September. So we packed a huge box (and I do mean huge) and got it all ready to ship down to the church. Unfortunately once we found out what the cost of Canadian shipping was going to be for this gigantic, heavy box of clothes and personal supplies, we were unable to ship it. I still wish the Canadian government would have made an exception for ALL large packages going to any zip code in the greater New Orleans area, but they didn’t and we didn’t have the money for shipping. So, we had to find other ways to contribute along with our church family. Yep, I remember all that like it was just last week.

It’s hard to believe it’s been two years already. It’s even harder to imagine what it must have been like during and immediately after the storm. I’ve followed the updates from Eddie and his church over the last 2 years, I’ve seen the pictures, and I’ve listened and read the testimonies of the people most directly affected. It’s been heart-wrenching to say the least.

I’m sharing all this with you today not just to go down memory lane, but to let you know that the work in Slidell is ongoing. People are still without homes of their own, lives are still torn apart, and the work of the gospel is still being done. Katrina absolutely changed the lives of everyone directly affected, and in many cases did so with a newfound passion for missions and evangelism. That’s exactly what Eddie and his church family are still doing to this very day – putting feet on the gospel (and sheetrock and bags of groceries and whatever else is needed) and making a difference in their community. I spoke with Eddie a few days ago and he asked if I’d be willing to share the needs of his church and community, and I’d said I’d be more than happy to do that. Here’s a message directly from him:

Two years ago today, the largest and most costly natural disaster to strike the USA ravaged our town. And if you're tired of hearing about New Orleans and the impact of Hurricane Katrina, just imagine how difficult it is for us living here to endure the seemingly non-stop silliness and negative press.

The reality, however, is that God sovereignly ordained this tragedy for His glory and purpose, and part of that intention is that His gospel be proclaimed and lived out before men.

It is to that task that we set our minds and plows.

With your help, we seized this unprecedented opportunity to plant an outpost for truth in a very dark region that revels in sin and open abandon.Together, we took up the call and established an anchoring. Now, as we press on amidst the rebuilding and related hands-on ministry with a handful of long-term volunteers, we ask for your renewed help.

Our main needs are:
• Prayer for wisdom, perseverance and God's continued provision.
• Skilled workers (carpenters, drywallers, painters, plumbers, tilers, etc.) to help put people back in their homes.
• Skilled finishers to help put our relief operation into its new building.
• Financial support for long-term volunteers, fuel, supplies and materials.

For further details, see our Sovereign Grace Homeland Missions news blog.

By His grace and for His glory,
Charles Busby and Eddie Exposito
Elders, Sovereign Grace Fellowship
Slidell, Louisiana

Won’t you take some time today with your family (and church family) and seek the Lord in prayer and ask Him if there’s something you can do for the church family in Slidell?

Felix the... mom?

Recent conversation openings between myself and others:
Person: wow, did you read about such-and-such at so-and-so’s website today?
Me: nope
Here’s another:
Person: did you see this link, this is amazing!
Me: nope

And another:

Person: oh I can NOT believe this, such-and-so is sponsoring/advocating/endorsing/promoting this (insert heretical trend du jour) insanity, did you read this?
Me: nope, I have no idea what you’re talking about

In a nutshell, I am more or less out of the loop more often than I am in it. What's more, is that it's on purpose. The thing is, I’ve been intentionally “downgrading” for the last several years. One day out of nowhere the Lord impressed on my heart that my plate was too full and my priorities were all out of whack and things HAD to change. What I mean by downgrading is simply letting go of or getting rid of things that aren’t needful to my spiritual growth, or to the benefit and blessing of my family. This hasn’t been an easy thing for me to do, because I’m a creative & inquisitve person and I’m happiest when I’m doing something with my hands to create, or researching something or learning something. The problem with that had been, the things I’d been busy spending my creativity and research on. To be sure there were benefits in what I was doing but in the overall picture the time they demanded of me took time away from the more important things, and that’s the issue.

One of the most frustrating things in trying to do this, was that I'd let something go only to replace it with something else similarly time consuming. So then I'd drop that and before long I'd be doing the same thing again. If I were to chart that out, you'd see a lot of spikes on the chart where this would happen, even though the main line on the chart would be consistantly going down. It's those pesky spikes that I have a hard time with.

Part of this downgrade was closing my chat room that I’d invested years into. It was just time to let it go. Along with that, closing the forum I once ran that had over 700 members. It was a huge blessing for a time but it also needed to come to an end. I also had to step down as forum moderator/manager for several other forums over the last few years as well. Something else that simply had to go, was Emergent No. I learned a monumental amount of information running that blog (if you’re going to refute modern nonsense trends, you better be willing to do the legwork required and the prayer work required to be sure you know what you’re talking about), and I know it blessed and educated a lot of people, but in the end it took a huge toll on my physical health (this stuff is stressful!) and had taken too much time away from other things. Besides, it was just time to let it go.

Letting things go also means I am so pathetically out of the loop on the latest evangelical controversy or blog hoo-haa, that I wouldn’t be able to follow the whole thing if I tried. I just don’t have the time to do that. Honestly, I really don’t have the desire either. It’s a lot easier to catch the Reader’s Digest version when it’s all over and ask someone to explain it in a brief summary.

So what are these other things that are more important? I’m so glad you asked! First and foremost they are my family. After them comes running my home and persuing my goal of making my home a place of good memories for my kids. That is no easy trick, since I’m a high-strung person with standards often too high for any normal person to attain, but the Lord’s working on me in that area as well. Sewing and quilting, homeschooling, around the house cleaning & repair projects – just having busy hands around my house. I’ve been known to lament the fact that I am a Felix Unger in a world of Oscar Madisons (and if you never watched The Odd Couple, that means Felix was a near-nuerotic, neat freak and Oscar was a happy-go-lucky slob), so lately my big project is to train my little Sloppy Oscars how to be Orderly Felixes. They’re even learning how beneficial it really is to be a Felix in that when things are being cleaned up & cleaned out, you find all kinds of stuff you thought you lost! Then, the added bonus to keeping things neat and orderly is that you always know where your treasures are located.

We’ve been quite diligent on the daily chore charts, and the daily 2 room plan. At first the kids all rolled their eyes like I told them we were going to have to eat cat food for dinner or something (yeah, like I've never said that before, pfft), but after day 1 and working together we had all the bedrooms, loft, upstairs bathroom & hallway, stairway, living room and dining room DONE in less than 1 hour, they were pretty excited to see the results AND to see how fast it got done. I must say, I was also quite impressed. Then, the cat pooped on the freshly vaccuumed living room carpet and I was no longer as impressed, as you can imagine. Just a small setback, but a truly disgusting one, at that.

I’ll freely admit that part of the reason I’m doing this is because I just can’t function in a messy house. It just drives me batty to not know where things are, to see messes in every room and watch the kids walk right past something on the floor & not pick it up. If spontaneous human combustion were ever going to happen to me, that’s the trigger right there. Some day, one of the kids is going to walk right past a sock or a scrap of paper on the floor, and just keep going... then FLOOOMFFF, mom will be a pile of ashes on the floor, 4 feet away. If you ever read about it in the papers, know this ahead of time - it was because of that sock, or scrap of paper that went neglected.

The other reason I’m doing this is purely for them. More than just about anything (other than to see them all persuing holiness and living for the Lord) I want them to know a solid work ethic, and what it means to be responsible, and to help out even if it’s not your own personal responsibility. I can’t tell you all how many conversations I’ve had with my 8 yr old genius who constantly reminds me that SHE didn’t make such and such mess, when I ask her to help clean it up. Well, says mom, I don’t wear your clothes so I don’t think I’ll sort, wash, dry & fold them anymore either. For that matter, (mom continues) I don’t eat your breakfast, lunch and dinner, so I don’t think I’ll be cooking for you. I also don’t read your books, play with your toys or wear your clothes, so I can’t see any logical reason for me to continue to buy those. I always get the same look when I say this. It’s the look that says “I know you’re right, and I don’t want you to be right but there’s not much I can do about it”. I have to remind her that if I took the same attitude she takes about helping out when it’s not benefitting you in any way (or you didn’t make the mess!), that there’d be some pretty miserable kids roaming around this house in clothes too small and dirty, with old books and broken toys... looking for someone to feed them (or snacking on cat food). Of course it’s my parental responsibility to provide for my kids (and in all honesty I’m stunned she hasn’t called me yet on my lousy analogy) but she gets the point. She just has to be reminded of it, consistantly.

In a house with this many kids, and a house this size (it’s a big ole farmhouse with enough room to get lost in, without even trying too hard. Kevin lost me tonight and I wasn't even trying to hide, go figure), it’s a lot of work to keep it orderly & clean. It’s a lot of work because I have 4.5 kids still at home who have issues with putting things back when they’re done with them, helping to clean up even if it’s not their mess, and who until now, have never really had it impressed upon them DAILY to do their own chores. Oh sure we tell them to clean their rooms & make their beds & all that, but 10 minutes later something else is happening and then I'm doing laundry and that sort of thing and I just forget to check and/or stay on them about getting thngs done. That’s my own fault for not being consistant until now. I say 4.5 kids because our 17 yr old is pretty good about this stuff about half the time. She’s 17, it’s a whole different talk show/therapy session there, and one I don’t have enough Advil to get into just now.

So with school starting in less than a week and knowing full well I turn into a scatterbrained banshee at the sight of a messy house, I really wanted to get us all into gear and get started on the new routine of keeping the place kept up. So far, it’s working quite well and I’m convinced once we get it down to memory without having to look at the charts on the corkboard (yes, I printed them out and put them on the board!), I think by then we’ll have it down to a fine art.

Once we get there, then it’ll be time for me to have the extra time in the day to get back to my quilt (yes mom, I’m still working on it!) and my sewing projects that have piled up on my sewing table to such a height that if you breath on it too hard, it will fall over and it’ll take you an hour to clean it all up. I made 2 pairs of comfy fleece pajama pants for the kids last winter and they were such a hit, they all want LOTS more. They’re really easy to make but they’re just one more project piled in the pile, since I haven’t been able to really get it together around here.

I’m hoping that’s a thing of the past & this is something that will continue to work well for us (I know, it’s up to me to be consistant, which has never been a strongsuit of mine, except for when it comes to homeschooling and making to DIE for fudge, those things I can consistantly do and consistantly do in my sleep, if I have to), and that in the process it turns my little Oscars into Felixes. Well, without the nuerotic aspect, and as long as they don’t start ironing their pajamas, and get so obsessive they start cleaning MY closest. On second thought, hmmm. Okay yes, they can clean my closet.

All that to say, if you ask me something and without really answering I look at you like you have 11 heads, this is why. I'm just not in the loop, and I'm totally okay with that.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Prove It

Earlier this month I was a guest blogger over at Camp on This with an article titled "Contemplate" This:...the mantra of the new age is now considered Christian? In a nutshell, the article is on contemplative prayer and how new age/eastern mystic spiritual discipline has found a home within some mainstream evangelical circles, even among many who profess they believe in sola Scriptura.

It was recently brought to my attention, that this blogger wants proof. Part of what he said:

"Well, umm, Carla, PROVE IT. You did a great job of standing up for Sola Scriptura. You, or anyone else reading this post, shouldn't have any issues with showing me that contemplative prayer isn't scriptural. But all I read in that post is a lot of bluster and no bite. Which is why most blogs aren't worth crap, by the way, and why most bloggers, although they fancy themselves as the "new generation" of journalists and theologians, are nothing of the kind."
Well, its a fair question and I'll make every effort to prove from the Scriptures why I say what I do. Although to be clear, I don't fancy myself a journalist (or an apologist), but I do believe that all Christians are and should be theologians in the strictest sense of the word - meaning we ought to be busy diligently studying the character and attributes of God, through His word.

I wont go into the long definition of sola Scriptura again, but I will say that it essentially means that the Scriptures, God's holy, inerrant, inspired word is the sole infallible rule for our faith and practice as Christian people. For a more comprehensive introduction to this teaching, I highly recommend James White's Scripture Alone. For a deeper look, I would have to recommend Holy Scripture: The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith, Vols. 1-3 by William Webster & David T. King.

The groundwork has to be laid here in that you have to understand not only what sola Scriptura means (and what it doesn't mean), but you also have to know what contemplative prayer is, where it came from, and what the Bible says about our prayer life in practice, and how in a more general way that Christians are not to be engaging in the empty, religious rituals like the pagans do.

First up, contemplative prayer. It's actually quite easy to get a good understanding of what this is, since it's become so popular in the last decade or so. There are no shortages of books & websites telling you exactly how to begin & practice this spiritual discipline that is hyped to bring you closer to God. Here's one list of contemplative exercises:

Contemplate Jesus. Intentionally place yourself in the presence of God. Become quiet. Express to God your intention to rest in his love. Use your imagination: you may want to picture yourself leaning on Jesus’ breast as John did or sitting at Jesus’ feet as Mary did or kneeling before Jesus as other desperate people before you have. Be with Jesus. (When thoughts and distractions interrupt, gently return to Jesus. Begin again and again.) What is it like to receive God’s gift of new beginnings? Palms down, palms up. Sit comfortably with both feet on the floor and your hands on your lap. Breathe deeply and relax. Intentionally place yourself in the presence of Jesus. Turn your palms down and begin to drop your cares, worries, agendas and expectations into Jesus’ hands. Let go of all that is heavy or burdensome. Relax. Breathe deeply. When you have given your cares to Jesus, turn your palms up on your knees. Open your hands to receive God’s presence, word and love. Listen. When you feel prompted to end, tell the Lord what it is like for you to simply be with him. - source: Adele Ahlberg Calhoun - Spiritual Disciplines Handbook - Practices That Transform Us

You'll notice in this example there is special attention given to physical posture, visualization and breathing techniques. If you know anything at all about the eastern mystic practice of meditation, you'll see the parallels immediately. These are techniques to become one with your inner deity/Supersoul/Higher Self. No, I am not making that up.

It is (I believe) rather important to note that in the link above to Calhoun's book, you'll also find listed among "further resources" on contemplative practices, a book called Becoming Christ by Brian C. Taylor. You can read his bio here, and excerpts from Becoming Christ here. It is no surprise to me that Taylor is a graduate of the Shalem Institute. It is also no surprise to note that Taylor likens Christian (?) contemplative prayer to the ladder scenario. You should find this interesting (emphasis mine):

"The process of linking oneself with the Supreme is called yoga. It may be compared to a ladder for attaining the topmost spiritual realization. This ladder begins from the lowest material condition of the living entity and rises up to perfect self-realization in pure spiritual life. According to various elevations, different parts of the ladder are known by different names. But all in all, the complete ladder is called yoga and may be divided into three parts, namely jnana-yoga, dhyänayoga and bhakti-yoga. The beginning of the ladder is called the yogärurukñu stage, and the highest rung is called yogärüòha." (source)

In addition, Calhoun recommends The Cloud of Unknowing - author unknown. Read this editorial review from amazon.com (emphasis mine):

"This is William Johnston's summary of the message of The Cloud of Unknowing. Nobody knows who wrote the book, or exactly where he lived, or whether he was a member of a religious order, or even, really, whether he was part of any church at all. The text first appeared in Middle English in the 14th century, and it has inspired generations of mystical searchers (from St. John of the Cross to Teilhard de Chardin). The mysterious conditions of its composition, however, focus the reader's attention squarely on the book's message--an almost Zen rendering of Christianity, which has a great deal to teach our querulous, doctrine-obsessed churches: "And so I urge you," the author writes, "go after experience rather than knowledge. On account of pride, knowledge may often deceive you, but this gentle, loving affection will not deceive you. Knowledge tends to breed conceit, but love builds. Knowledge is full of labor, but love, full of rest." --Michael Joseph Gross

Interesting, no? Going after the experience and leaving sound Biblical doctrine behind is exactly the point. There are countless resources on contemplative prayer & contemplative spiritual disciplines out there. I would strongly encourage you to read some of them to get a better understanding of what it is and where it comes from. From everything I have read on it over the years, it is nothing more than eastern mystic ritual, repackaged and sold under a Jesus banner. Sold to Christians who are eager to have a deeper spiritual experience and who are just as eager to ignore the source and/or make an attempt to justify the practice because you're focusing on Jesus.

The question then begs, where is any of this type of practice found in Scripture, as it pertains to believers in communion with our Heavenly Father? Simply put, it's not there. It isn't a Christian practice, and that's why it's not there. There are however numerous examples given to us in Scripture on how to pray, who to pray to, why to pray and the results of prayer. In none of these examples though, will you ever find Biblical precedent for focusing on your breathing techniques, to visualize leaning on Jesus or sitting at His feet. Nor will you ever find the teaching in Scripture that contemplative prayer is a way to work your way up a ladder to eventually link-in with the Supreme. This isn't even Christian or Biblical language, it comes straight from the eastern pagan religions, where the very practice itself comes from.

The Lord's Prayer in the Bible is a wonderful example of how Jesus prayed. You will never find in the Bible that He sat a certain way, focused His breathing, visualized anything, or any of that. When Jesus taught us to pray He began by telling us who to pray to, and what kind of attitude we should have when we pray. His focus was the state of our heart before our Heavenly Father, not the physical or mystical experience we might have or have heightened by particular physical techniques. You really have to ask yourself, if Jesus never mentioned it, why do men do it? If Jesus didn't do it, never mentioned it, and it cannot be found anywhere in Scripture (and it can't), then it certainly was not something He wanted us doing. If He wanted us to do these things, you can be sure they would have been included in Scripture along with every other aspect of Christian conduct, character, and practice. Yet they are glaringly absent from the inspired word of God.

As far as physical posture goes when praying, the Bible has examples of bowing, standing, kneeling, and prostrate on the face. But the physical posture of the way you pray has everything to do with humbling yourself before a Holy God. However the Bible does give examples of conditions for successful prayer and it has everything to do with the state of your heart:

• Contrite - Psalm 51:17
• Whole heartedness - Jeremiah 29:13
• In faith - Mark 11:24
• In righteousness - James 5:16
• In obedience - 1John 3:22

In none of those examples, will you find attaining a spiritual high, nirvana, or becoming one with the Supreme (and leaving doctrine behind, as suggested by the writer of The Cloud of Unknowing, as recommended by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun) the goal, but rather the goal is to submit your whole heart to God and with contrition, in faith, in righteousness and in obediance and with thanksgiving make your requests known to God. The peace that Philippians 4:6 speaks of that will be yours to keep your hearts and minds when you do this, is not the mystical, contemplative high that is mentioned above. That peace comes from submission to God's will and knowing your place before Him, taking comfort in the fact of His sovereignty over all things, and being reassured of His providential hand in the lives of His people. In contemplative prayer, Christians who practice this will tell you that the goal is also to be at peace with God and receive His love and rest, but the very source where this originates says something very different:

Connecting to God or Samadhi
This is the last stage when all external and internal matters slip into oblivion. It is a stage envisaging the destruction of all mental activity. According to Ayurveda, sense organs confer their subjects to the mind, which turns to the soul. In the stage of Samadhi, the relation between the soul and the mind is destroyed and the soul connects with God. Thus the highest stage of concentration is reached, which is the ultimate goal of Yoga. In this stage, self-awareness disappears. During Dharana, there is very little mental distraction. During Dhyana, the frequency of self-awareness decreases, and in the final stage of Samadhi, the soul is weaned away from all types of distraction and self-awareness. The Atma (soul) combines or connects with the Paramatma (Supersoul or God). It is at this stage that manacquires psychic abilities and attains supreme knowledge. The Yogi or the person develops various supernatural powers known as siddhi. Thus the eight steps of Yoga culminate in the state of samadhi." (source)

If you're still not convinced that so-called Christian contemplative prayer comes directly from eastern mystic religions, I would strongly encourage you to study as much as you can on the very methods and practices of both, and see for yourself how they line up perfectly - only the names of deities have been changed to make one more palatable for professing Christians. The methods and the rituals are almost identical. I would suggest you read the example here again of "Christian contemplative prayer" as described by Calhoun, and then read the entire article at the above cited source on the steps to attaining Samadhi.

In conclusion, I would like to address the comment I made at COT when I said that you cannot endorse eastern mystic religious practices and claim sola Scriptura at the same time. Either you dont really know what sola Scriptura means, or you have been deceived by the promoters of contemplative prayer to believe that it's okay.

Once you study up on where these things come from, it should be abundantly clear that Christians have no place whatsoever practicing the rituals of other religions, or rituals that have no mention or support in Scripture at all. What's more, is that if you truly believe in sola Scriptura you understand that it means the Scriptures are our sole authority on such matters, and what they teach supercedes whatever man or man-made religion has to offer. There is man's way, then there is the way according to the infallible, inspired written word of God. It's either one or the other.

I hope in addressing this again, I've been able to answer the question as to "why" CP is wrong. I realize that someone else could have (and likely has) done a better job, and that while I am certainly not an expert on eastern mysticism, there is enough reading material online for even a novice to do an ample amount of research and compare these things against the holy word of God.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Changing

On the way to church this morning, I saw it. There it was, standing boldly at the side of the road, silently screaming out "look at me, look at me!" I had no choice but to look, it was literally impossible to turn my gaze the other direction. It wasn't very big, maybe 30 feet tall at the most, but it was the first of the season to put on the brilliant, fiery robe of reds, oranges, yellows. Yep, it was a Canadian Sugar Maple, decked out in all it's Autumn finery, demanding the attention of everyone passing by. It was simply beautiful.

As much as I am in active and intentional denial that summer is coming to a close, it most certainly is. Labor Day is a week away, the first day of school the day after that, and stores are already stocking shelves with Halloween junk. Fall bird & butterfly migration is in full swing and the red breasted Nuthatch on my kitchen porch, stealing peanuts out of the basket feeder, one at a time and tucking them away in a tree not far away, is evidence that he's preparing for the long cold winter to come. The brilliantly colored butterflies everywhere you look, will soon be gone as well.

In the exact opposite extreme of how glad I always am when winter is finally over, I'm always sad to say goodbye to summer. I love the changing of seasons, and as crazy as I am to get so excited about the first snow, enduring the long Canadian winter is something that gets a little harder with each passing year. I'm really beginning to get a grasp of the whole Canadian/Florida Snowbird deal. I've never even been to Florida, but I know why those folks go.

With the end of summer comes the beginning of a brand new school year, and a brand new year of girls/boys/youth groups at church. It's exciting to look forward to these new beginnings, and I'm anxious to get started.

Also with the end of summer comes plans to prepare for winter. This means stacking firewood into the basement, rounding up spare blankets and making sure they're all handy, putting away shorts & tank tops and bringing out the sweaters & doing a thick sock inventory - checking doors & windows for any drafts & repairs needed, rounding up all yard toys, draining the pool and putting away the badminton net. Between now and the end of October, there's quite a lot of work to be done to get ready for Old Man Winter. Oh, there's also the given that I'll be running away from home or taking the long way home (often) with my camera to get the coolest shots of the coolest fall color I can find.

The one thing I absolutely and completely look forward to at this time of year, is making my Christmas list and finding THE coolest gifts for everyone on it. Well there's that, and the traditional "bringing out the village people" as I set up my miniature Christmas village on October 31. Some people dress up like a freak and beg for candy that day - I open boxes and play with wee little people and wee little buildings. Oh, then I go to the store and get those bags of candy the day after, for 75% off. YES, I love a bargain.

Back to the Christmas list... oh yes! With seven kids and one grandkid, parents, siblings & grandparents, its a rather large list. It's not easy to shop for any of these people except Ruth my 4 yr old and Jocelyn my 1 yr old grand-muffin. They're super easy to shop for, they love anything you give them. Everyone else though has a different style, taste & preferrance they're a bit trickier. Tricksy relatives, they is.

So, while I was in "oh there is no way it's almost time to think about Christmas!" mode the other day, I started browsing online and saving links. Then it occured to me, that what I was finding useful, cool, affordable, unique, and helpful - that YOU also might benefit from the same links. For that reason, I put together a little Gift Giving Guide and posted it over at Sovereign Grace Books and Gifts. You can see the link to it in the very top of the right sidebar here. I hope you find it helpful as you begin to prepare your Christmas list.

As for me this week, I'm looking forward to uploading all new photographs for my Reflections '08 calendar at my store. I have a couple of different themes in mind for this coming year, but I'm not settled on just one yet (yes, I'm accepting suggestions, if you have any?) The 2007 calendar was A Year in Proverbs, and it was a real joy to put that one together. Just in case you're wondering, the 2008 calendars will be available within the next 2 weeks (for you early shoppers out there).

Sing... sing a song

Music is a wonderful thing. There are so many songs that can define landmark moments in our lives, accurately express a powerful emotion we feel, or that just draw us in like magic and no matter how we might try, not tapping the toe or singing along isn't going to happen.

Sometimes it's songs like those in the last category that are among the worst songs ever written, as far as lyrical content goes. They might be catchy and easy to remember but in truth many of the songs like that that we sing are completely pointless. They don't mean anything, they really don't say anything, but we sing along anyway because they're catchy.

This is something I've thought a lot about and something that is a fairly common concern with me. So when Pulpit Magazine posted earlier this week about the difference between style and substance as it pertains to contemporary church music, it definitely caught my eye.

I wonder how many of us just sing along to songs that are seriously lacking in substance, but have an upbeat style - and we never give it a second thought? By the same token, I wonder how many of us ever really consider the words we're actually saying when we sing along with songs that are top level in substance? Those are just a couple of questions I had recently as I started reading through the words of the hymn we're learning as a family. Not only do I want my kids to know the words to this hymn, but I want them to get the words that they're singing, and know why they're singing them, and mean it. In any event, I give you our weekly hymn that exhorts us to gratefully sing, sing of His grace and sing His praises with true adoration. They're not just words to a song, they're exhortation to our very soul to glorify God:

O WORSHIP THE KING


O worship the King, all glorious above,
O gratefully sing His power and His love;
Our Shield and Defender, the Ancient of Days,
Pavilioned in splendor, and girded with praise.


O tell of His might, O sing of His grace,
Whose robe is the light, whose canopy space,
His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form,
And dark is His path on the wings of the storm.

Thy bountiful care, what tongue can recite?
It breathes in the air, it shines in the light;
It streams from the hills, it descends to the plain,
And sweetly distills in the dew and the rain.

Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail,
In Thee do we trust, nor find Thee to fail;
Thy mercies how tender, how firm to the end,
Our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend.

O measureless might! Ineffable love!
While angels delight to worship Thee above,
The humbler creation, though feeble their lays,
With true adoration shall all sing Thy praise.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Goin' to the Fair

Last night we did something we've never been able to do before. We rounded up the kids and took them all to the county fair & d-derby! We had an absolute blast, aside from the fact there was a 4 yr old with us that found all sorts of things to complain about. Ahem.

In any event... it was loads of fun. One of the rides Rachel wanted to go on was a little scary for her to go alone so I went with her. The way it's designed it goes so fast that it pulls you toward the right side of the car through the whole ride. I sat on that side of the car and it indeed pulled me and pulled Rachel too so I was pinned to the side of the car and will have a lovely and very large bruise on my leg. It was so worth it, I'd do it again today if I could!

Cotton Candy Kids at the D-DerbyGrowing up, it was an annual tradition to attend the county fair and d-derby, and I aquired the d-derby bug very early on. Someone once told me that only genuine rednecks get excited to see cars crash & love the smell of exhuast fumes & burnt rubber. To which I say, bring it on! If that makes me a redneck, I'm all for it. The kids had not only never been to a fair, but they'd never seen a d-derby either, and never had cotton candy - so for them, it was a dream come true.

It was so much fun, and hearing Samuel say "this is the best day ever of my life!" was just precious.

You can see more pics here.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Friday Photo

As a rule, I don't normally go around befriending 8 legged beasties. There are however exceptions to every rule, and sometimes we have to make concessions when it comes to rules.

Out of common courtesy to those who suffer from arachnaphobia (among whom is my mommy, and if she sees this picture she might fly out here and slug me, or disown me, or both) I'm going to STRONGLY WARN you, to not scroll down and view this picture.

And whatever you do, do NOT click on it ZOOM IN to see the detail of the hairy legs & eyes. No, do not do that.

For the rest of you, I give you Spidey, my new pal who is helping me with the wretched housefly problem I'm having right now.

spidey

Spidey made his grand entrance on my living room wall, while I was folding laundry & swatting away at the flies.

Finding Joy

I had in mind the thought to wrap up this week with a light-hearted, fun-filled post, with laughs & links and that good Friday BlogFoddery sort of thing. Instead however, there is something much more pressing on my mind that is far more important to address.


Life is filled with all sorts of good things, and all sorts of bad things. As someone who firmly believes in the sovereignty of God in the affairs of men, I know that He Himself orchestrates all of these events for a greater purpose - either for our sanctification or to bless us, and ultimately to glorify His own name. In either case of good or bad, we're supposed to be thankful, full of praise for His providence and guidance, and remain firmly grounded and pressing on.

It doesn't always work that way and it's a whole lot easier said than done, sometimes.

In Psalm 51, we see a deeply repentant prayer and longing. A confession of sinfulness, a profession of faith, and a deep longing for restoring a right fellowship before God. In verse 12 David prays:

Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.

David pleads with God to not only have the joy of salvation returned to his heart and mind, but to be refreshed and revived and sustained by the abundant grace of God. Immediately what comes to mind as I read this is Isaiah 26:3:

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

It should come as no surprise that the word uphold in Psalm 51:12 and the word stayed in Isaiah 26:3 are the very same word in the Hebrew language: camak. This word means to be refreshed or sustained, to be firmly established with the implication that there is one thing holding up something else. In this case, it's the generous grace of God being referred to (in both verses) that is doing the sustaining and establishing. There is however another word in Isaiah 26:3 that I don't want to overlook. So often our English translation of Scripture lacks the punch and the depth of what's really being said, and that is certainly the case here.

The word keep in this verse is the Hebrew word natsar and it means to literally to be guarded, watched over, preserved, guarded from dangers, to be kept close, or to be blockaded in. In other words, you could fairly say that Isaiah 26:3 is saying that those who earnestly and continuously fix their minds on the things of God, the glory of God, the grace and mercy of God, will indeed be revived, refreshed, held up by His grace and literally blockaded in from those things that cause us to lose our focus and bring us harm, and in fact lose the joy of His salvation - if even for a moment of despair, anxiety and hopelessness. Notice this verse does not say "Thou might keep" but "Thou wilt keep". It's not a potential, it's a fact. He will keep you sustained and filled with the joy of His salvation, when you fix your mind on Him.

So then why do we as believers so often become filled with worry, fear, anxiety, sadness, hopelessness and despair? I'm not referring to sadness over painful life events such as the death of loved one or a broken relationship, I believe it's quite normal to grieve in those situations. I'm referring to that sense of being out of control and locked in to those feelings as if there is no way out. Dwelling on anxiety or feeling so despondent that you are nearly paralyzed by that feeling and it clouds your entire existance.

Life is full of stuff that if we let it (and that's key), will take us right to the front door of all those feelings. Marital problems, parental problems, financial issues, illness, problems on the job, trouble at school... and this is just the short list. Any one of these things can trip us up and cause us to dwell on the circumstances of the moment, and lose the joy of His salvation - even if just for a short period of time. Why? Because we're 100% focused on the circumstance and not focused on Him. Did we forget Who it is who is sovereign in the affairs of men? Did we forget that He has allowed this for a greater good that even though we likely cannot begin to see it just now, and we may never see it in this lifetime, that it is for His glory and for our sanctification? Oh yes, we do forget those things, even if just for a few minutes, or a few hours, or a few days. And when we do, what is the result? Despair, hopelessness, fear, sadness, sorrow and grief.

I'm not going to pretend that this is an easy thing to overcome. It is certainly not a quick-fix solution to whatever hard things you or I might be going through at this moment, but it is a Biblical solution. When I was first saved and about to lose my first husband to cancer just 16 months later, I had a hard & fast lesson in this very thing. I knew God was in control, I'd read the verses in Job that tell us it's God who appoints our number of days, and I was just so grateful that the healing we all prayed for came in the form of spiritual healing for him even though it wasn't a physical healing. There were a lot of things to be thankful for. Of course it was still deeply painful but it was all by God's design.

The ironic thing is, is that for me, applying this line of thought in the big things (death of a loved one, the excruciating pain of natural childbirth, the extreme and intense stomach cramps I get) is quite easy. These are larger than life things that have simply forced me to my knees and submitted to dwelling on the good things of God. Yet when it comes to smaller things such as financial issues, or disobedient and rebellious kids, I tend to lose that focus and dwell on the circumstances instead. The end result there, even if just for a moment or a day, is the very thing I described above: despair, anxiety, and often times a severe sense of hopelessness.

I know we've all read and heard countless sermons and messages about this very application when it comes to Peter taking his eyes of Jesus and sinking in the water. If you stop and really think about that for a moment, and imagine what must have been going through Peter's mind as he began to sink, you'll no doubt relate to what he was likely feeling, and why. Simply put, as soon as Peter looked away from Jesus and looked at the violent wind, his mind immediately shifted into the fear mode and he started to sink. This is exactly the same thing we do when we look closely at the violent winds in life, and we get the same result Peter did. We sink right down into fear, stress, sadness and even depression. It's good to remember as Matthew 8:26-27 so clearly point out, Who it is in complete control over those winds.

This is something very personal for me, and I know at least a few other folks that also wrestle with this same thing. It's not easy to not look at the violent storm brewing. I think the more we examine why we do that we might find that it comes from the mind of the natural man reverting back to self, and asking rhetorically "how can I fix this, what can I do, how do I get out of this situation?". Well, sometimes God gives us the wisdom and guidance to fix things and make them better, but even then the solution didn't come from within, it came from Him. Truth is, we can't fix anything. We're not in control of circumstances, He is. It's our job to submit to that and praise Him all the way through it.

This is certainly one area of Christian life (for those who wrestle with it) that should have a precedent in our prayer time, each and every day. It definitely has a high ranking in my own.

I would like to conclude with words that are guaranteed to bless your heart above and beyond anything I could ever say, on my own:


Praise ye the LORD. Praise ye the name of the LORD; praise him, O ye servants of the LORD. Ye that stand in the house of the LORD, in the courts of the house of our God, Praise the LORD; for the LORD is good: sing praises unto his name; for it is pleasant. For the LORD hath chosen Jacob unto himself, and Israel for his peculiar treasure. For I know that the LORD is great, and that our Lord is above all gods. Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places. He causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings for the rain; he bringeth the wind out of his treasuries.

(Psalm 135:1-7)

Whatever you're dealing with today, let this passage sustain you and keep you focused on Him.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Only 11 more days to go...

Over the last few days I've been incredibly busy. I've had a lot of time to think as I been gathering laundry, sweeping & vacuuming floors, moving furniture, straightening up 4 bookcases, scrubbing the sinks and straightening up the linen shelf in the bathroom. It seemed like every task I've finished only made me think of other tasks that still aren't done - such as cleaning the upstairs hall closet, gathering up the umpteenzillion bags of clothes for Goodwill, and finishing Samuel's walls... and cleaning the wood furnace... and getting lightbulbs for the basement so I can actually see what I'm doing down there.


Then a thought blasted through my brain like a lightning bolt: I'm nesting!

I'm getting all cleaning & unfinished projects done (or as close to done as possible) before the big event. Knowing full well that in just two weeks I wont have the time or the energy to tackle all these things, I'm doing everything I can to get them all done now.

No, we are not expecting baby #8, but we are expecting The First Day of School in just two weeks, and for this homeschooling mom that means 9 months of books, schedules, extra worksheets, science projects, field trips, snow days, holidays, and more than likely a fresh season of colds & flu viruses to deal with.

During the school year the actually schooling part of homeschooling is #1 in our house and the housework & home projects often fall behind, or just don't get done at all (the projects, that is). This year though I'm trying a new tactic and hoping to be able to stick with it, and hoping that it also works. Aside from the daily routine of gathering laundry & that sort of thing, I'm assigning myself and the kids 2 rooms a day through out the week for a serious clean up.

For example (and this isn't set in stone yet but just a rough idea of the way I want it to work):

Monday: Living room and dining room
Tuesday: both bathrooms
Wednesday: Gameroom & mud room (inside porch)
Thursday: Laundry room & loft (kid's play room/extra bedroom)
Friday: Each person's respective bedroom

The plan is, at least for now, that once we're done with school that we all gather in the day's assigned rooms and together - all 6 of us - clean the room from wall to wall. Dusting, vacuuming, and whatever else needs doing. My theory is, if we do this together and have a different set of rooms each day, that we'll be able to stay on top of the whole house, all school year long.

The added bonus being, that Saturday is left wide open for no chores (except dishes and laundry of course, that never stops) and Sunday still free to spend in church and then doing nothing but relaxing at home afterward.

As long as I've been homeschooling (it'll be 8 years in December) my house has never been on Good Housekeeping status from Sept.-June. As long as I have messy kids in my house, it likely never will be, but at least with a plan of attack for this school year we just might make a dent in it, and that's a good thing.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Back To School With a Gang Banger & Common Hooker

Alternately titled: "Where did the kids who ARE kids, go?"

- or -

Alternately titled: "Where did all the happy kids go?"

Did that get your attention? I hope so, because apparently more parents NEED to be paying attention.

Despondent, depressed, hopeless, dejected, discouraged, gloomy, disheartened, downhearted, melancholy, blue, unhappy, heartsick, miserable.

Not very uplifting words are they?

I know I'm not the only parent that has noticed this change. It's a huge change and so noticable I'd be surprised if there's anyone left that hasn't noticed it. The change I refer to is the image put forth in advertisements for kids & teens clothing. You see it in every sale flyer, and right now with the back to school promos by every store out there, there are a ton of examples to pick from.

The first thing I notice, is the expression on many of the kids faces. See that string of depressing adjectives up there? That's the message that these ads send to me. These kids are ticked off, filled with attitude, arrogant, snotty, snarly, snarky and downright emo. Grab a local sale paper if you've got one handy and look for yourself. You're a parent, you know what that look means. It either means you just told them something they didn't want to hear (like "no") or that you're about to get a disrespectful argument out of them.

The next thing I notice about these ads, is the electronic accessories they all seem to be sporting. One ad might show what appears to be a 7 or 8 yr old boy with a cell phone up to his ear, and another one showing a (maybe) 10 yr old girl with a iPod plugged into her head.

Now hold on just a minute while I play the role of old fuddy-duddy. Since when exactly, did little kids need these things to be a balanced, healthy child? Shouldn't that 8 yr old boy be outside somewhere building a tree fort or a jump ramp for his bike or skateboard? While I'm at it, why does that 10 yr old girl have an iPod or cd player growing out of her head? Shouldn't she be playing and using her imagination, rather than having who-knows-what-kind of music pumped into her brain via the electronic toy she's wearing? And while I'm on this train, let me just ponder outloud that maybe the reason for the expression on her face, is due to the trash being pumped into her ears, eh? Garbage in - garbage out? (oh you parents of teens know exactly what I'm talking about here)

Oh yes, it gets worse. If you've got a sale paper in front you, turn now to the juniors and young mens pages for a minute while you hold your finger on the ads for the kids. Are you there now? Okay take a look at the way the older teens and young ladies are dressed and now flip back to the kids. You don't see the difference either, do you!? Someone please tell my WHY it's become the norm to dress our CHILDREN like adults. Hmmm? That 10 yr old girl and that 8 yr old boy are dressed almost identical to the late teens or early 20-something models. The little boys are sporting that trendy, layered/skater boy look (oh please, like they care!) and the little girls are wearing the same Jezebel inspired miniskirts and flashy tops. Hello? Have we all gone insane?

In a word, yes we have. We're such suckers for marketing and sadly our kids don't know better. When our kids see those kids in those ads, that's who/what/how they want. That's what is being advertised and that's what they are told (by implication) is acceptable or normal. It's normal ("but mom, everyone else dresses like this!") to them because the local WalMart, Target or Zellers (Canadian) fliers says it's normal and plasters these kids all over their ads. They see the attitude in the facial expressions and body language (why is it so common for a 6 yr old boy to be posed in an aggressive pose and look at the camera like he wants to slug you in the face?), they see the low cut and WAY too short hemlines on the girls (or the skin tight outfits) and think that is who and what they should look like. Now here's the thing mom and dad, and pay close attention to this because the Ad world doesn't WANT you to pick up on this:

This marketing strategy works, works very well, and YOU and I are the ignorant consumers with our heads in the sand that they're cashing in on - at the cost of dressing your little boy like a punk gang banger and dressing your little girl like a common hooker. What's more - the Ad world DOESN'T CARE, because they are only concerned with the almighty buck. And we (the people with the paychecks) just keep right on buying this stuff. Hmmm.

I really can't stress enough just how important it is that as parents, and Christian parents, we don't get sucked into what has become trendy and fashionable for our kids. It's our job as their parents to protect them from things they aren't spiritually and emotionally ready for, and to keep them kids as long as they are kids. Our little boys and little girls need to understand (as much as they are able) the difference between honorable character & giving a good impression, and following after the world by looking and acting just like them. That doesn't mean you dress your little boys like Old Order Mennonites, and it doesn't mean you adorn your little girls with frumpy long hemmed dresses, but there are much better choices out there than the Skank-Babe offered for girls, and the Thug-Boy line for little boys. It takes a little more time finding stores that offer it, or if you can't, learning to sew to make nice things for your kids, but it's worth it for them.

One last thought about this is that it strikes me as very disturbing that none of these kids look happy. In very few ads are any of these kids smiling or expressing any kind of visual image that gives you the thought that they're happy. When I was a kid and used to flip through the big ole department store catalogs with kids clothes, those kids were happy, smiling, riding bikes, playing sports, skipping rope & having a grand ole time doing kid stuff. These kids don't look happy, they look like they're filled with angst and discontentment. You have to wonder what the deal is there, and why these child models are intentionally being posed & dressed this way by the adults in charge of the photo shoot sessions.

As you can tell, this is a sore spot for me. I think it's supposed to be a sore spot for any Christian parent when the world wants us to present our children as unhappy, snarky little thugs or promiscuous tarts.

As for me? I don't buy it. I learned how to sew & where to shop to find cute stuff. It was more effort to be sure, but they deserve it.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Courtship v. Dating

Maybe Saturday wasn't the best day in the world to post this, judging by the replies. I just have a hard time believing only 2 people who read this blog have an opinion on this. So, I'm reposting for today with hope that more of you have something to say & resources to share.

Okay kids, I need your help. It's come up more than once in my house in the last couple of days, and been on my mind for a while now. So here's what I'd like to do.

I'd like to cull your wisdom on this topic, from both sides. I'd like to know where you stand, why you stand there, and how/if your position on courtship and/or dating has worked in your family, for you and/or your kids.

I'd like resources too, preferrably stuff I can read online, but books as well and/or audio sermons or messages. Whatever you have to say on the matter is important, so please do leave a comment.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Chronic Pain

Have you ever wondered if maybe the reason God permits some people to suffer so much physical or emotional pain in this life, is so that their thoughts might be more often turned to Heaven and the life to come?

Just a thought.

About that Facebook thing

Joshua Harris has a survey on it, Tim Challies has an opinion on it, Timmy Brister has questions about it and everyone and their dog is friends with 900 other Facebookers at the site itself. Really, it isn't all that complicated and in my ever so humble opinion, hyped to be a lot more of a big deal than it really is.

Yes, I have a facebook page.


Carla Rolfe's Facebook profile


I'll take a shot at Joshua Harris' survey questions:

1. How many times a day do you check your Facebook account?

A day? Maybe more like 3-4 times a week, if that. If someone tags me in a note or sends some sort of nifty message, I might log on more than that.


2. What do you do when someone you don't know wants to be your friend? This hasn't happened to me yet but it might, and I was homeschooled so I'm not sure what I'll do.

I ignored them and they went away. I see no reason whatsoever to feel obligated to accept such a request from strangers, other than to make myself look impressive to those who are impressed by such dippy things as seeing 452 friends in the sidebar. Currently, I have 31 friends. Six of those are family, eleven I have actually met or know in person, and the rest are folks I've known online for several years, or through blogging & chat.

3. What's the most useful thing about Facebook?

The answer to that will vary depending on why you have one. I get visitors to my store and this blog from there, and I stay in touch with friends & family there that feel more comfortable communicating there, than in email or blogging.

4. Are there any really cool add-ons that I should know about?

There are so many applications you can add on, I've never seen them all. A lot of people really like the Verse of the Day applications. You can also add a book list, sermon list, videos and pretty much anything else you can think of - and/or had never thought of. Plus, for .75 (facebook foodfight money, it doesn't really cost anything) you can hurl a tomato at Tim Challies. Need I say more?

5. Does your church use Facebook to build "community" online? Give examples. I found out my church already has a group. I'm curious what other churches are doing.

My church doesn't have one but I know of some that do. Because you can keep your group private (somewhat, there's always the occaisional riff raff that tends to show up, somehow) it's a nice way to connect online with your church family for things that will only pertain to your own local church.

6. Is it true that some people have dumped email and mostly use Facebook to communicate?

I wouldn't be surprised, but those are probably the same people that get up at 3 am to use the washroom and have to stop and "just check my email" and go on Facebook for 3 hours. I can't see why anyone else would dump email for Facebook.

7. How do respond when someone posts on your wall? Do you post on their wall, on your own? I'm not clear on this.

I was informed early on that writing on your own wall makes you a doofus. You click wall-to-wall or send a private message if you want to respond. I don't spend a lot of wall time anyway.

8. I joined a group for Humble Orthodoxy and New Attitude. I also considered joining a group called "Josh Harris Ruined My Dating Life" but I was afraid I would spoil the fun they were having. But, boy, could I give them scoop on what a jerk I am. Any other groups I should think about joining?

Again, that all depends on your common interests. If you're into knitting socks for one eyed lemurs with a limp and a skin rash, I'm sure there's a Facebook group for it. You just have to browse the lists to see what's there.

9. A more serious question: Are there any unique spiritual pitfalls or temptations that you've encountered on Facebook? How have you responded?

Like with any online service (forums, chats, groups, etc.) there are potential spiritual pitfalls. I simply avoid the trash & questionable things - I have no time for it or use for it.

10. What does it mean to "poke" someone. How does that work?

It means exactly what it says. It's like poking someone with your poke finger, except doing it electronically. I poke my kids on there quite often, and they poke back. Completely useless but fun. I poke them in real life too.

11. Why do so many girls use a picture of themselves that includes three other friends? Is this like visiting the ladies room in herds? Is this something I'll never understand as a man?

I'm going to assume Adam was asking his sons this question and they were also asking their brothers and sons. I have no idea why girls do this, or why they go to the washroom in teams, or do each other's make up. I never got that part of girlhood, and I still don't. Rest assured there are many other women out here that also do not understand this mentality.

I hope that helps.

Head out on the highway...

States I've visited or lived in, in the US (because I saw this at Jen's and I'm a copycat & it looked fun):



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Well, it would appear I need to see more of the south. I've always wanted to see Georgia and eat some real-live peach cobbler while I'm there. I ever came into a barge-load of cash, I'd take my mommy and fly to Nashville so she could go to the Grand Ole Opry. I'm not big on country music, but she is and it would be very cool to be able to do something like that. Then I'd go to Florida so I could see an alligator. That would be very cool, and then I'd run and scream like a girl. Maybe DC after that so I could see all the historic buildings and ooohh and ahhh at the fantastic architechture & historic significance of just being there. As for architechture, I'd certainly have to go to the oldest part of New Orleans, LA and have my camera loaded with fresh batteries.

The rest of the states that I haven't been to? I suppose there are neat things there that I'd love to see once I saw them, but I just haven't had the opportunity to go there. I have a travel bug, but he's got no legs, so for now I just have to settle for pictures other people take of extremely cool things in extremely cool places I've never been yet.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Saturday, On the Deck...

Jocelyn turns ONE!
It's going to be another busy day, as we celebrate the first birthday of THE cutest grand daughter in the history of all cute grand daughters. It's amazing how fast time goes by, and hard to believe she's already a year old.

Yesterday was the last day of VBS and we ended the week with a barbequed hot dog cookout. I want to share with you the message our pastor put on the church website yesterday:


"It was a great week as 54 children from ages 5-11 and over 20 adults and teens learned through the life of David to live for God day in and day out. Camp Iwillgoway encouraged all of us to trust God in any situation and to always go God's way no matter what - Our week was filled with action songs, interactive Bible stories, meaningful Bible verses, practical talks during each small group time, fun crafts and great games.What a great team God assembled for the week. I can't begin to tell you just how wonderful everyone was who took part throughout the week from Faithway. Special thanks to the Youth Leadership Team - Thanks for serving Christ and the children He loves so much, so well!" - Blessings, Pastor Ken

Before the last day's events ended, we were all there volunteering in whatever capacity we could be used. Jessica helped dish up lunch & put things away afterward, Kev barbequed so many hot dogs I think we all lost count, and I took pictures for the church website. Watching the kids sing & dance and have so much fun doing it, just tickled me to no end. The songs were fun & catchy and they were giving God the glory and having an absolute blast doing it. I wonder what the church at large would look like it adults had THAT much fun praising God?

Well, I'm off to bake 2 cakes, make a large vat of potato salad & load up the deck with balloons & streamers. Have a great Saturday!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Ethereal Canvas Masterpiece

Summer Sky




Night before last I hit the road, ran away from home, packed up my troubles in my old kit bag & bailed. Okay fine, what I really did was I grabbed my camera and walked to the end of the laneway with the dog, but it's as close to running away as a mom can get.

It's a rough time for me right now. Lots of heavy duty personal stuff going on, and going on all at once. Talking to a friend the other night, who is also going through their own share of personal stuff, the word "despair" came up. Its sure easy at times to slip into that arena, but it's a very dangerous place to go. While considering current circumstances it occured to me how often I've gone quiet lately. I mean how often I've simply not responded verbally when I could have. When extremely stressed I tend to go quiet, and that's what I've been doing more of lately. I was never like that when I was younger, that started about 12 years ago.

Something I've sort of trained myself to do when things get heavy and deep, is to sneak away where it's quiet, where I'm alone, and where I can truly observe God's utterly amazing creation. If I lived near a beach, I'd be far, far down the beach where no one else was. If I lived near woods, I'd be deep in the forest sitting quietly and listening to the sounds of non-human life. If I were in the mountains I'd be upstream, and you'd never know I was there. I live in the country, so country roads lined with 100 year old trees is where I go.

As I stood there and watched the sun splash the sky with these colors, it reminded me that our God is so good, His grace and mercy is so amazing, and in light of eternity with Christ, there is absolutely nothing in this world that can get so bad, it will have any impact on that. Except of course, to make it more desirable. Things happen in this world and this life that can shatter our hearts, cause us to despair and lose hope (even if just for a second) and feel completely conquered by our own failures - either real or imagined. All of that we have to deal with of course, and it's not always so easy to do. But the one thing no one or nothing can take away, is our faith, and our hope in the life to come, because of what Christ did on the cross, in our place. This world is not our home, and as comfy as we tend to get here when things are going well, it's when things are falling apart all around us that seem to cause us to remember Who it is that controls all these life events.

For me, when things fall apart I just have to get away - even if just for 5 minutes - and intentionally dwell on a higher perspective. In light of my problems, how astounding is it that God lifts the sun everyday to give us light? How incredible is it that certain flowers He designed to bloom only toward the sun or bloom with a most amazing display of color and texture just for a few short days and then be gone again for another year? What a completely staggering thought it is, that He fills the sky with the colors He does, to close the day with a stormy sunset. He does that on purpose, and He does it everyday all around the world, and it's just a little different from one place to another.

Indeed, it's real easy to dwell on painful things when we don't take a minute to look UP. To put our lives and our existance into the perspective of eternity, of God's sustaining grace, and His very creation all around us, puts our hearts and minds onto a much better perspective and is such a refreshing thing to do.

Yep, this is a "this is where I am right now" post. It's rough, but it's where He has me.




Thursday, August 16, 2007

Now This is Just Weird

Jocelyn being extremely cool, and her OLD grandma?It should come as no stunning revelation that there are plenty of weird things in this world. Everyone has a "that's weird!" list. Here's part of mine.

• I am the same age now, as Elvis Presley was when he died, and I'm a grandma. I love being a grandma but the weird part to me is how well I remember the day the news broke. I was at my gma & gpa's house and whatever gpa was watching on tv was interrupted for a breaking news segment to make the announcement.

Because it is such a vivid memory to me it seems so weird that it was 30 years ago. What's even more weird, is that for a 12 year old, Elvis was "old" when he died. Ahem.

• Kids who are required to resume their schooling for the "fall" quarter, and that quarter starts in August. Now that's just weird no matter what school district you live in. How in the world can you force kids to sit in class in August, when the sun is shining, the pool or beach is waiting, and there are frisbees to toss, baseball games to play, sleepovers & camp outs that haven't happened yet, and bonfires to be lit? School in August... just plain weird.

• I guess they'd be called non-drug-induced flashbacks. I'm sure other folks have them (anyway I hope I'm not the only one) but these are wee little slices of time when you suddenly remember something from when you were a little kid. Something about the way the sun was shining through the clouds yesterday morning took me back just for a few seconds, to the one time I attended VBS when I was a kid. My church didn't have it so I went with a friend from school to theirs, and they had a bus that picked up the kids from the west side of town. For just a few seconds yesterday morning I remembered the anticipation and excitement I felt while riding the bus across the bridge on my way to VBS. The conversations the kids were having in the van while I was having this mini-flashback sounded exactly like the ones we had on the bus, when I was 10 years old. Those things are weird, but weird in a good way.

• A comment my 8 yr old genius made today in the van. Out of nowhere she says "hey everyone, lets look out the window and spot old people". Before I even had a chance to ask her why in the world she was doing that she said "look, a cemetary, lots of old people there!" and they all laughed. My kids are definitely weird. For some twisted reason, the first thing I thought when she said that was "yep, every one of them past their pull date". I didn't say it though, because then they'd think I was weird too. I suspect that may be true.

• In an ironic twist of events, I've made it ALL summer without having to drain my pool once, and start over with fresh water. I've been able to keep up the daily routine to keep it clean and sparkling all summer long. Not only is this weird, it's a first in all the years I've had a pool.

There was really no good reason for posting this except its what was on my mind today.