Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Isaiah 55:11 - A Divine Energy

At some point during Sunday morning's windstorm, the wind caught a piece of aluminum siding on the living room porch, and ripped it right off. I didn't know it at the time, all I saw was what looked like a large piece of paper flying through the yard and landing out near the corn field. I had no idea it was aluminum siding because of the way it was flapping around in the wind, and I didn't know where it came from until the storm was over. After realizing what it was, my first thought was "I am SO glad no one was out there!" I can't even begin to imagine the physical damage that would have taken place had that sharp projectile met up with human flesh.

This got me to thinking about all the times I've heard Christian testimonies where the person came to Christ later in life, after having lived in the world for a good many years, and the person testifying about how just living the lifestyle they did, they should have been dead. Obviously, God orchestrated events so that no one was in the way of the aluminum siding, and likewise all the Christians I know that have ever said "I should have been dead" were also spared by God's providence and mercy, regardless of their reckless and irresponsible lifestyles. I'm one of those people. Minus the gruesome details, there were more than a few times in my adult, unsaved life that were it not for God's grace, I would have never made it to 44.

I have nothing earthshattering or profound to add to that fact, except to simply say how grateful I am that God is indeed completely sovereign over His people, and cares for us in ways we can't even begin to imagine. In part, this is why Isaiah 55:11 is what I consider my "life verse" or the one verse of Scripture that stands out for me and declares truth in such a bold way. In the KJV, that verse reads this way:

So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

There is nothing, absolutely nothing that can alter God's intentions. Whatever is to be done according to His wisdom, will be done. Regardless of me, or you, or my big ideas or plans, or anything else on earth, God's will BE done. I love the way John Gill put it when he said of God's word being accomplished "it is accompanied with a divine energy". Ever since the first time I read Isaiah 55 many years ago, I found an incredible amount of comfort and assurance in the truths of God's sovereignty found there. I would encourage you to read it today, and likewise find that same comfort and assurance.


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Monday, December 29, 2008

I Am Just Like Her

The woman with rotted teeth, matted hair and mumbling to herself in the store today, I am just like her.

The woman who seems so together with stylish clothes and fashionable hairstyles (but who is falling apart on the inside), I am just like her.

The woman who cries herself to sleep every night and puts on a happy face for her family, I am just like her.

The woman who is always sarcastic and caustic and critical to the dismay of all around her, I am just like her.

The woman who struggles with temptations and addictions and grieves deeply over her own sinfulness, I am just like her.

The woman who feels like no one really cares if she disappears tomorrow, I am just like her.

The woman who sells herself to strange men and finds herself addicted to drugs to numb the pain in her heart, I am just like her.

The woman who finds herself single and pregnant, I am just like her.

The woman who struggles with whether or not she's a good parent setting good examples, I am just like her.

The woman who finds it easier to laugh during painful trials than it is to cry, I am just like her.

The woman who is notorious for her gossip and story telling to bring other people down, I am just like her.

The woman who sits in judgement of others because she's not where they are, I am just like her.

The woman who suddenly sees her own sin in light of the glory of God and then cries out for forgiveness, I am just like her.

You know, it is so remarkably easy to look at the outside and judge other people, even if we don't realize that's what we're doing. The moment we allow our minds to even begin to form an opinion of a person based on outward appearance, we're already judging them. Slob, junkie, hooker, gossip, arrogant, unfit mother, uncaring, and on and on it goes. The truth of the matter is however, we are all the same on the inside; sinners struggling with sin in a sin-laden world. Some of us (purely by His grace) realize this is what we are, while some go through their entire lives never knowing forgiveness, never knowing grace, never experiencing agape love. Some of us know what our besetting sins are, and some just give in because the world says it's okay, or that's just the way it is.

At the end of the day, I am no different from any of those kinds of women I mention above, except for one thing: God's astounding grace and mercy in my life. I'm not a big New Year's Resolution maker (or keeper) but if I had one to make for 2009, it would be that I would be less eager to form an opinion of someone (love believes all things, right?) based on outside appearances, and more eager to show them the same kind of grace and compassion shown to me by my precious Lord.


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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Wonky Weather Woes

Once upon a time on a Saturday night, light years away, Rosanne Rosannadanna used to say "it's always somethin'" It seems lately, Rosanne was quite accurate. This morning I woke up to insanely gusty winds and saw this on my home page, which is also the local weather page:

The thing is, I already knew how bad the winds were this morning since I looked out the window and saw all the damage. Nothing like what you might see from a hurricane, but with winds howling through here at 60mph, you end up with such things as your garden arbor, concrete Sign No Morebird bath and bird feeders all blown over. The kid's playhouse is in at least 9 pieces, and scattered all over the muddy, wet cornfield. The only part of it still located in the place where it was, is the door.

This sign, which was heavily duct taped to wooden stakes on both sides of the wire frame to reinforce it in case of winds just like this (pfft!), has been ripped right out of the duct tape and is nowhere to be seen. The hanging bird feeder on our kitchen porch had been ripped off the chain on one side and one side of the wooden basket was completely gone. It was spinning wildly in the wind and coming very close to hitting the kitchen window so Kev had to go out and take it down. The wind was blowing so hard he could barely push open the kitchen door to get out there.

All that snow that I've been shovelling? It's gone. I'd guess about 95% of our snow is melted after yesterday's warm front and on the one hand, that's a really good thing since we were literally running out of places to put it once we shoveled it. On the other hand, it's a really bad thing since when it melts here really fast like this, it means basement flooding. We currently have about 8 inches of standing water in our basement. All our firewood is also in the basement, so that means the bottom layer of wood is now soaked. We're hoping it's not high enough to do any damage to the furnace motor or hot water heater, but it's a wait and see situation right now.

So far, we haven't lost any trees, just a lot of limbs. Limbs are easy to clean up, trees are another matter. So, instead of getting up and getting ready for church this Sunday morning, we all got up and braced ourselves for whatever's coming next. When we have winds like this, we tend to lose trees and windows tend to blow out. We're really hoping that wont be the case this time, but it's all in the Lord's hands. Thankfully we did have a bit of a warm front so the house is not too cold, but since we can't start a fire in the wood furnace unless we wade through the water to do it, the house is sort of chilly today. Again, thankfully, we do have 3 rooms in the house that have baseboard heating instead of relying on the furnace.

The wind is supposed to die down later this afternoon, and that's when we'll go out and begin the cleanup. I hope your Sunday was much more pleasant than ours.

That house in the city is looking better and better to me all the time.


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Saturday, December 27, 2008

What's Ahead for Me?

This being the end of the year, I find myself doing the same thing I'm sure a lot of people do at the end of the year - looking back. I find myself asking questions such as what did I learn, how did I grow, what were the highlights, what were the low points, and where did I succeed in my goals and where do I need to try harder for next year? There have been a lot of changes in my life over the past year. Some have been really great changes, others have been really hard to deal with. Its just the way life goes. Highs and lows, mountains and valleys and all of that.

In thinking about this blog, I had a bit of a chuckle. When I first began to blog, I had absolutely zero readers, as far as I can recall. It didn't take long to find all kinds of resources and tools that claimed to enhance your readership and help you become Uber Popular Blog Princess (or Prince) and so I did what a lot of new bloggers do, and tried to use those resources. Apparently I didn't know what I was doing since I never became the Popular Blog Princess that these silly tools told me I'd become. It's okay, I don't look very good in a tierra anyway. It wasn't too long after it dawned on me that these tools weren't working, that I removed them all from my blog and withdrew membership in all the ranking, voting and blog promo sites. It was more hassle than it was worth, and I already have a busy enough life.

The one thing I never removed was my sitemeter counter. I've always liked sitemeter because it tells you where your visitors come from. Seeing people come from all over the world to read what I have to say is pretty exciting. It's also pretty humbling and in a way, helps to keep me accountable since I know folks are looking for quality content (the karaoke video from yesterday doesn't count), especially as it pertains to a Christian worldview. I can only hope that I contribute something on a regular basis that helps someone or encourages someone.

Looking at sitemeter yesterday however, left me feeling a bit discouraged. I already knew readership and commenting at Reflections was down, but I didn't realize how low it had become over the last six months. Indeed it has consistantly decreased each month since July, and that can only mean that either I've become dreadfully boring, or there are just far more interesting, witty and resourceful blogs to read. Maybe it means both. I've never claimed to be very exciting or clever in the first place, so I guess that's just the way things work out.

So looking ahead to 2009 makes me wonder where I'm going with all this. I don't really have any plans for the new year except to do what I always do. Making every effort and relying on God's grace and wisdom to be a good wife, mom, daughter, teacher and friend. Blogging when I feel like blogging, working on my store, creating graphics for various projects, adding new books & resources to my book blog, actually finding time to read the books on my own personal to-read list, and tackling some household projects. I've never been big on huge goal-setting, partly because I'm easily distracted and quite often don't finish something I start. Someone once told me that this is common with creative and artistic people, but frankly I don't buy it.

Anyway, 2009 is looking a lot like 2008 in that I pretty much plan to do the same thing in the new year that I'm doing right now. Maybe the Lord will use it to encourage someone, and maybe I'll learn something new as well. I can only hope.


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Friday, December 26, 2008

'Tis the Day After Karaoke Christmas

Well, it was a very busy Christmas. Between taking breaks between baking to shovel snow, and worrying that that plow wouldn't make it in time to allow traveling family members to even get down our road (he did, thankfully, and they all arrived safely, thankfully), and the big meal Christmas Eve followed by the Goof Gift Exchange (you have not had a Merry Christmas unless you receive a homemade pickle candle), the opening gifts Christmas day, phone calls to and from long distance family that we miss, frantically looking for AAA batteries, untwisting plastic twist ties that hold toys to the paperboard backing of packages, cutting myself on one of those wretched plastic packages, forgetting to have any wassail until it was gone, eating far too many shortbread cookies and playing with Jessica's new karaoke machine... it was a very busy Christmas indeed. It always is, and I wouldn't change one thing - except to have my mom here with us. As much fun as we always have at Christmas, ever since I moved to Canada 10 years ago, I always miss her Christmas day, even though we get to talk on the phone.

And now, for your musical entertainment, here's what we did yesterday afternoon. Please forgive the fashion disasters that we all are, Christmas day was meant for polar fleece comfies, even if they don't match. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas as well.






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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Half Full of Snow

You know, sometimes life just stinks. I mean really stinks, as in, so bad that you might be inclined to feel utterly despondant. Sometimes the Lord orchestrates circumstances that really can feel incredibly overwhelming and difficult, and it's our business to truly TRUST Him through those times. We fail when we avert our attention from His faithfulness, and if we're all honest we all do it, at least to some degree. I know I do. Life can be chock-full of stuff like this, and for a lot of people (for reasons we cannot begin to figure out) these times seem to come in waves. One thing after another, after another, seems to go wrong or turn out badly. Sometimes it feels like you're never going to get a break and you begin to feel beat down, weary, and just have a really hard time staying upbeat and remembering to trust the Lord's wisdom and guidance. I'm certainly no stranger to these cycles of trials, and you probably aren't either.

I thought about this today as I thought about a very gentle, even half-joking rebuke (but a rebuke all the same) I received recently for my whining about snow shoveling. I didn't really mean to whine, not seriously anyway, but I suppose it probably came across as annoyingly whiney all the same. You may or may not have seen on the news lately how much snow we're getting here, but suffice it to say at my house, we're feeling like we're getting all of February's snow in one fell swoop. I can't even guess how much has already fallen since we live in the country where the winds blow almost constantly, and the snow piles up in very large drifts, rather than just piling straight up. If I had to guess how much snow we have here, I'd have to say about 2-3 feet. I know we have so much that the snow I've already shoveled off the deck is piled up as high as the deck, and today the kids went sledding from the deck into the yard. Our deck stands about 4 feet off the ground.

The way it works around here, due to Kev's work schedule, is that I'm the one who does 90% of the shoveling. Just the driveway, walkways and deck, but that's more than enough. I've shoveled more already this winter, than I ever thought I would, and we still have over 3 months of wintery weather to go. There are days when I'm out there 3-4 times a day/night just to stay ahead of it, as it's coming down fast and furious. All that, to say this:

Shoveling is actually good for you. Now I know there are folks who unfortunately overdo it every year and suffer serious health problems. Just today at the local grocer some folks were talking about an older, local man who had a heart attack last night while shoveling. He was rushed to the hospital and sadly, he did not make it. It happens every year, and it's a most tragic thing. However, I'm not talking about older folks or folks that are seriously out of shape. They shouldn't ever be in a position to have to shovel snow, someone (preferrably younger family members who care enough to bother) else ought to be along smartly to help them out.

What I'm referring to are those of us who are in relatively decent physical shape, but could maybe stand to lose a few Snickers bars, if you know what I'm saying. I wondered today just how good for you snow shoveling by hand really is, so I googled it and learned that someone my height, weight and age, burns over 300 calories an hour doing just that. If I'm out there 4 times a day, 5 days a week (which I have been for nearly the last month) I'm burning off (roughly) 6,000 calories a week, just by shoveling snow. Now that's a pretty decent workout right there.

So you see, my glass is not half-empty, my glass is half full... of snow. I'm good with that, and will not whine again this year. I hope.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

It's a Mom Thing

The headline read Duggar Family Welcomes 18th Child. The Duggar family, in case you weren't aware of it, is a Christian family in Arkansas that has become rather famous for no other reason than they have a lot of kids. From all I've read about them, they seem like a lovely Christian family. Every time I hear about Michelle Duggar having another baby however, all my Mommy Vibes get a little twinge.

I think most moms know that those are. You know when you're out in a public place and you hear someone say "mom?" It doesn't matter if you have your kids with you or not, you automatically turn to the sound of that voice to answer. Even if it didn't sound anything like your kid, you still turn toward the sound of that voice. Isn't it funny when that happens? Those are Mommy Vibes. Mine tend to twinge a little when I hear about another baby in the Duggar family for the simple reason that I know a little bit about what it's like to have a house full of kids. While I jokingly say that I have 900 kids, I really only have 7, and it only feels like 900 when either it's a particularly stressful, hectic or busy time, or if one or more of them is acting up, or going through a trial themselves. If 7 feels like 900, I can't even imagine what 18 feels like.

Quite a few folks have asked over the years what it's like to have that many kids. I've lost count of the times folks have said to me "I don't know how you do it!" The reality of it however, is that it's really not that difficult. As the mom, you just do the same things you do as a mom with less kids, you just do a lot more of it, and prepare for spending a lot more time doing it. When you hear that being a mom is a 24 hour a day job without time off, it's certainly true of moms with lots of kids, especially when they're still small.

By the time my youngest was born, my oldest had already moved out, so technically I never had all 7 of my kids in one house at the same time. When the youngest was born, the ages of the kids still at home were 17, 13, 6, 4 and 3. So I had teenage girls to help (and they did, tons!) and a kindergartener, a pre-k, and a toddler. Rachel, who was 4 at the time, is very much like her oldest sister - very helpful, resourceful and independant, so even though she was only 4, she was a huge help too. I remember someone calling on the phone the day we brought Ruth home from the hospital and I was called away from making dinner to come to the phone. "You're making fried chicken!? Are you nuts, you just had a baby!!" they said. So? There have been women for 6000 years who have babies and get up and get back to work within hours. Making fried chicken the day after having a child is hardly that big of a deal. Besides, I did have lots of help and that makes all the difference in the world. With the Duggar family having so many older kids to help out, I'm sure it's really not that big of a deal either, for Mrs. Duggar to get right back into the Mommy routine after having yet another child. The very same day I had my 9 year old, I came home from the hospital and made pizza then went online to chat with friends after all the kids were in bed for the night. Delivery in the morning, cafe mocha and chat in the evening! w00t, now that's organized.

Yes, you spend more time doing things than other moms. You either stay up later, or get up earlier. Often, it's both. You don't do laundry once a week, you do it at least once a day, sometimes several loads a day. You don't get to buy a lot of pre-packaged foods, you make a lot of things from scratch, and they almost always taste better than ready-made anyway. You don't get away with making a few pieces of fried chicken, you can plan on making at least 16-20 pieces every time you make it, and your crispy coating is your own homemade recipe. You learn how to budget every last dime, and do your level best to find the best deals in town on clothes, shoes, bikes, household items, and just about everything else.

It's a bit different than having only 2 or 3 kids, but in most ways it's exactly the same, just more of it. Truth be told, you make a lot of mistakes as you're growing up and learning how to be a mom the same time your kids are growing up, and quite honestly, the way you do things with your older kids is quite often not the way you do things with the younger ones. You learn what works, what doesn't, what's helpful, what's a waste of time and what kind of advice to ignore. I can say that I'm a much different kind of mom at 44, than I was at 24. The good news is, my older girls still like me! :-)

Moms of lots and lots of kids are tired a lot, it's part of the territory. They almost never get enough sleep, and they tend to look older quite often, than they really are. You know what never, ever, ever helps? Hearing someone say "you look tired". Gee, YA THINK? If there was one thing I wish folks would never say, it's that one right there. You just don't have a lot of time for yourself - to sleep or to do much of anything else, really. Unless of course you finish all the laundry, fold it and put it away then on your way back through the kitchen wash the left over dishes after dinner, take out the trash, let the dog out, wipe down the bathroom sink, clean the cat box, let the dog back in, dust in the game room, then sit down and realize it's 1:45 am and you still need to make a "to do" list for tomorrow... then make the decision to stay up for another 30 minutes to have some "me time" making that to do list that has nothing to do with you, but everything to do with taking care of your family. While you're making that list, you're likely doing something else too, at the same time. Sound like anyone you know? Me too! So yeah, we look tired because we are tired, but we do what we do because the Lord gives us these precious people to look after.

Then, you just get up and do it all again tomorrow. If you're an organized freak, you might even get some blogging time in, talking to a friend on the phone, stoking the fire, listening to a great sermon, and making a batch of fudge for Christmas. Or, shovelling the driveway for the billionth time.

(Upon opening my blogger dashboard I noticed this is my 901st post, since I switched to the new format. One blog post for each kid!)



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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Cats, Public Toilets and Playing the Fool

I have some very random thoughts today. Here goes:

• Why do folks say "raining cats and dogs" when it is quite obvious that common house pets are not falling from the sky? Where did that silly saying come from? If you're in the country, does it rain pigs and chickens? Horses and cows? (yes, I could google it but I'm too lazy) On the same note, why do people say "never look a gift horse in the mouth" when odds are, the vast majority of people don't even know what a gift horse is? Is there this mystical pony that shows up like the tooth fairy, bearing gifts? Is that the gift horse? No, that is not a gift horse, and yes I know what it means, and what it's supposed to convey, but people just run pell mell saying these things without even knowing why they say them. This should stop, immediately.

• If I added a snowblower to my amazon wishlist, Carla Rolfe's Goodies and Stuff would someone buy it for us? If I had a magic 8 ball, it would almost certainly say "not likely at this time". I got a Magic 8 ball for my birthday when I was about 10, and quite honestly I thought it was one of the coolest things, ever. It's pretty easy to impress a 10 year old with cheap plastic toys. Now that I'm 44 I think snowblowers are one of the coolest things, ever. Not only can they clear your driveway without killing your back, they can create a fine sledding hill at the same time!

ohhh so pretty!• I took some pics of my miniature village last night. These are the pics BEFORE the big snowstorm in our forecast. Since we're having a storm, I'll be adding snow to the village today so they can have snow too! By the time all is said and done, I'll really be wishing I had one of them snowblowers. Or wishing our driveway was as small as their driveways. This last week I can feel a twinge in my back which almost always means, my back is about to give out. If it just gave out that would be okay, but it is always accompanied by shooting pain, and shooting pain is never fun.

• Speaking of weather, Canadian weather forecasters crack me up sometimes. They use words like "phenomenal" and "dynamic". I'm not sure why they do that, it's not as if southern Ontario isn't quite accustomed to snow, snow and more snow in the winter time. Now if it were the middle of December and the highs were being forecast for 80 degrees, words like phenomenal would make a lot more sense.

• Speaking of sense, here's something that makes sense: clean public washrooms. You know how gross it is to have to use a public wash room that hasn't been cleaned since Nixon was in office? Well, my hat is off to the local Zehrs grocery store that not only keeps their bathrooms clean, but make them look very nice, like department store bathrooms. It's the little things and us women notice stuff like that.

• Have you ever completely humiliated yourself in public? Me too! In fact, it's pretty common with me. Here's the latest in the Carla's a Doofus McGoofus saga: So I'm at the local Mac's (convenience store which doubles as a postal outlet) the other day, putting stamps on my mail at the little counter that is seperate from the mail counter. Always before, since the beginning of time, I'm sure, they've had this little slot under the front end of the counter top for your trash. So, I finish peeling stamps off the backing and wad up all the backing and stuff it through the little slot. Only to step back and realize, that is no longer the trash slot, it's the outgoing mail slot! Well, I felt silly enough as is, but then I turned and noticed a woman looking at me like I'd just beaten a puppy. I didn't know it was the mail slot, really! The opening was far too small to stick my hand in and retrieve my trash, so I just had to stand there in line with OutGoing Mail Lady glaring at me. She's probably already blogged about idiots at the mail counter sticking garbage in the outgoing mail slot. Oh well.

I did have other random thoughts (like re-writing the 12 days of Christmas song to include cheetos, thermal socks and cafe mocha) but now the kids are fussing with each other about all kinds of earth shattering things so it's time to put on my stripey shirt and whistle and step in. While I'm doing that, you could go to James' youtube channel and help push the video views over 1 million. That would be pretty cool. He has over 300 videos there, so there's LOTS of good stuff to choose from. I've added many to my favorites, like this one, this one, and this one. (By stark contrast, my 20 little videos have only had 7400 views. Clearly, on the coolness scale, James is way up there, and I'm way down here. I'm good with that!)


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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Blessed Assurance

For various reasons, I just haven't had the time to sit here and write for the last few weeks. I don't see that changing in the next couple of weeks, but I wanted to take some time today to share a thought or two on assurance.

There are quite a few people I know that come up during my prayer time that need assurance. The details and the circumstances of their lives are vastly different, but at the end of the day what they need more than anything is the calming peace that comes from knowing God has all things in His hand. All things; life and death, heartbreak and loss, lonliness and confusion, trials and pain, prosperous times and times of great sorrow.

In the financial climate of the world we live in, assurance is desperately needed by so many who have mistakenly put their trust in men, and the institutions of men. In that situation, focus was in the wrong place to begin with for many people (laying up their treasures on earth) and now that those treasures have been compromised, not a few folks are scrambling to find a way to get back on their feet. They think they need their finances in order again to get there, but what they really need more than anything else, is assurance. More than just assurance they need Godly assurance that can only come from first knowing Him, then fully trusting in Him, during the greatest times and during the worst of times.

I once knew a Christian man that annoyed me to no end. I was not saved at the time, and what annoyed me about this man more than anything else was is complete dependency on the Lord's will. His wife (unsaved) had left him, most of his kids (also unsaved) quit talking to him, he lost his home, his earthly security, and what most of us would all consider the comforts of this life, and still he smiled and said "oh well". He never said it in a way that implied he didn't care or wasn't concerned, but in a way that was quite obvious that his hope and his assurance came from above. What bothered me more than anything about this man was that he never reacted the way the world reacts. He didn't get mad and call his ex-wife names (he certainly could have, she was not a very kind person), he didn't complain about his situation or his unpleasant circumstances at all. EVER. As an unsaved person myself, I guess I wanted to see him do this, and he just never did. It was unsettling and disturbing for me as an unsaved person to watch someone go through such miserable things and never once react the way everyone else (that I knew, anyway) would react. I wanted him to react in this way because it was normal, common and expected, but he never did. It bothered me so much that I knew he had something different, something well beyond earthly answers, to get him through and change his outlook on life. I do know that privately he cried, and privately he shared his sorrow with others but never in a way of wallowing in his circumstances. Rather it was in seeking support and encouragement from fellow believers.

Thing is, life has a funny way of throwing us the kind of curve balls that we never expected. It might be a terminal diagnosis from the doctor's office, or it might be a sudden job loss which means losing the house too. It might be a confession from one of your kids that they are gay, or on drugs, or pregnant. It might even be finding out your spouse has been unfaithful. There are a million and one things that I could put on this very short list, but the point is how do we react to things we didn't expect? Do we freak out and react like the world, or do we rest in the Lord's economy and walk in peace knowing He is in control of even the most difficult things? Do we seek the world's solutions or answers or do we seek the guidance and wisdom from above? Do we run to others to complain about it, or do we drop to our knees and make it a matter of prayer?

At the end of our day, are we truly resting in God's sovereignty, and walking with peace, and assurance that no matter what happens, it didn't take Him by surprise? I know that I cannot always answer this kind of question in the affirmative, since I still react a lot of the time the way the world would react to such things. I don't want to, but I do. I very much look forward to that day when faith will be sight, but until that day I look forward to the growing in grace and learning how to be an example of grace under pressure.



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Monday, December 15, 2008

Store Stuff: Calendar Sale

Psalms of TrustI (Heart) My CoffeeJust thought I'd mention that the 2009 Calendar sale at the store ends tonight at midnight eastern time. All calendars are on sale, so that means the Psalms Wall Calendar, the bird calendar for bird lovers, and all the 2009 calendar prints.

Also, any of the "I (Heart)" products, calendars included, can be personalized free of charge. Just drop me a note and let me know what name you'd like in the heart.

Happy shopping. :-)


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Saturday, December 13, 2008

One More Great Day

What a hectic, crazy, busy, noisy, wonderfully memorable day today was. Up far too late and out the door by 10:30 this morning, we made our annual trek 45 minutes away to the tree farm to cut down our Christmas tree. Yes, we could go to any of the tree farms close by, as they are just about everywhere, in any direction, less than 5 minutes from our house, but none of them are our tree farm. We don't get to see the familiar sites, walk the familiar trek out to the field, or drink hot cider and eat shortbread cookies inside the barn. It's a long drive for a tree, but it's the same place we've gone for the last 10 years, so it's the place we go every year.

We picked our tree (or to be completely honest, I picked our tree - the fattest one I saw, with adorable little wee pinecones still on it), Kevin cut it down, and off we went to the barn to have our yummy cider.

I got a new scarf, so of course I had to put it on!When we got home I had a great birthday party (and we celebrated our son-in-law-to-be birthday as well) with all my kids present and accounted for, all the boyfriends/fiances (theirs, not mine!), and my sister in law too. Good dinner, great dessert, wonderful gifts, and I was even shot by a nerf gun. You have not had a complete birthday unless you've been ambushed by a nerf weilding partygoer. Of course it sounds silly, but we're a rather silly lot, and foam dart guns have become something of a "thing" around these parts. Nearly all of us own one, and those who don't, frequently steal from those who do. :-)

What a great day it was. It was good to turn 44. :-)
I've uploaded pics here.



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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Happy Birthday to ME!

I did something this year for my birthday that I almost never do. I bought myself a completely frivolous gift that I've wanted for a while now. As you can see from this pic, that gift was my 24 Addicted t-shirt, from my own shop.

Yes, I am!I must say, when it arrived in the mail and I opened it (no way I was waiting till my actual birthday on Friday!), I was so completely impressed with the bright and bold print quality, I just HAD to show it off. (No, this is not photoshopped kids, this is the actual garment).

If you're a fellow 24 fan like me (or know of someone who is), this makes a great Christmas gift idea. The show returns in January after being off the air for FAR too long! This is my official Monday night uniform, beginning in January.
:-)

And in other store news...

This week's e-flyer is now up, and we're having a sale on all our 2009 wall calendars, and calendar prints. The sale starts Friday at 12:00am eastern time, and ends Monday at 11:59pm. Or, give or take a few minutes as my dial up service allows to me to do these things. This is our last e-flyer for the year, as I'm about to be uber-busy with Christmas baking, shopping, cleaning, wrapping, baking, wrapping and more baking. All that stuff is going to cut in on my blogging time as well, so you might see some tumbleweeds blowing through here over the next couple of weeks. They'll be decorated with garland and lights of course.

I just LOVE this time of year. :-)

And with that, I'm off to bake cupcakes for tomorrow!



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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Fond Christmas Traditions

As Christmas gets closer and closer, and my list of things to do gets shorter and shorter, I thought a little bit today about one of the things I've always loved about this wonderful time of year. From the time I was a little kid until just a few years ago, that thing that I loved was the card tree.

When I was little, my mom had a tradition that I copied when I grew up and moved out on my own. Early in December she would start receiving Christmas cards from friends and family far away. Sometimes the cards had nice letters inside updating us all on how the folks were doing, and sometimes they had pictures too. Other cards were just signed by the senders, wishing us a very Merry Christmas. Mom would take each card and tape it to the inside of the kitchen porch door, to begin the shape of a Christmas tree - from the top of the door all the way down to the floor. I'm not sure how she picked which card would end up being the "star" but I always knew when I got it in the mail, which one I set aside to be the star. When I grew up and took my mom's tradition as my own, there were some years I had to many Christmas cards that not only could I make the shape of the tree to cover an entire door, I could fill in the tree with all the extra cards, then top it off with the perfect "star" card. One of the things I loved about that the most, was opening each card from time to time and re-reading them. I'm not sure why but it seemed so special to have all those "Merry Christmas" wishes from loved ones, taped right there to the door for the whole family to see.

Sadly, things began to change about 10 years ago, and the mailman stopped bringing the same amount of cards. I'm pretty sure in my case a lot of that had to do with my move to Canada and postal costs being much higher, but the other part had to do with a general decline in Christmas card sales overall. With the increasing popularity of e-greetings and explosion of what they now call hyper-connectivity, you're never at a loss for staying in touch with everyone you've ever known, 24 hours a day (if you want it that often). I guess folks just don't find that special Christmas greeting as special as it used to be, since they just left you a message on facebook last week and commented on your myspace pic 3 days ago.

Over the years after my move to Canada, the amount of cards that came were less each year, and last year was one of the saddest of all. Only five or six cards came last year, compared to the 20-30 that were the standard, once upon a time. It struck me last year, that this is a tradition that will probably fade away very soon, and will just be a fond memory. I'm pretty sure my hunch was correct, since we're now 10 days into the month of December and we have not received a single Christmas Card in the postal mail.

I know times change and traditions change, but it's just sort of sad to see this one go. I'm thinking I might modify it a little bit somehow, and try to revive it. I'm not really sure how yet, but I do have a couple of ideas. In any event, I'm curious about your greeting card habits at Christmas time, so I've added a new poll in the right hand sidebar. Please do take a second to take the poll?


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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Store Stuff: New Christmas/Canadian Stuff!

THIS GRAPHIC WAS TESTED ON A REAL LIVE CANADIAN FOR QUALITY, CUTENESS AND HUMOR CONTROL. IT WAS APPROVED WITH FLYING COLORS.




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Newsweak - when it comes to truth

Dr. James White addresses the Newsweek article on gay marriage. This is one issue that isn't going away anytime soon, so being prepared on how to give an answer, is what Christians ought to be doing.






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One Great Day

Yesterday, I was honored to give my five year old daughter Ruth, an outstanding achievement award for memorizing the first 21 questions and answers in the children's shorter catechism.

This is the third time I've taught through this, and the amazing thing is, is that even though it's geared for younger children, it is a great blessing to me, the teacher, every time I go through it. Not only is Ruth being taught from the earliest years why we believe what we believe, but I'm being refreshed again and again, as I teach it. I was very proud of her ability to remember the correct answers to the 21 questions. Now I just hope the Lord will be pleased to hide those truths in her heart, as she grows up.

Tulip thinks it's all over-rated, this busy Christmas season businessThe rest of this week is hectic-nutty-busy with finishing up units and then a very cool surprise Christmas party on Friday (shhh, don't tell the kids, they think they're doing lessons!) with Christmas cupcakes, Christmas music courtesy of Bing Crosby and Mylo & Emma Hatzenbuhler, and a Christmas snowman craft that we'll each get to make and hang on the tree. Somehow in there I have to find time to make 3 new stockings, 3 new candy ribbons for our 10 day countdown which begins on Monday, bake my world famous veggie lasagna for my own birthday party this weekend (no, Kevin cannot cook), and possibly even breathe, and sleep. And shovel the driveway, again and again. In any event...

It was just one great day of school yesterday. :-)



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Sunday, December 7, 2008

Reason #1,244,592 for Moving to the City

SNOWSQUALLS!

Okay so this is the part where I snivel and whine and complain like nobody's business. I don't even care that there's a fee for whining. In fact, allow me to pay my fee now, and double it since I want lots of whine-space, mkay? The thing is, if it were any other day, I wouldn't really care, but it's SUNDAY and I WANTED to go to church today, since I've already missed lots of Sundays due to being sick & various other seasonal/family stuff going on. Now I'm just sick of snow and wintery weather and it's NOT even winter yet! BAH!!

If you're not in a place where you get snowsqualls, then you might not know what they really are, or do. In a nutshell, they're like micro-blizzards. They usually last for just a few minutes but during those few minutes the snow is so thick and the winds are so harsh, you can't see in front of your face or keep your car in your lane (lane? what lane, where am I, and why is that gigantic truck headed right at me!?) or keep your balance very well if you happen to be standing or walking outside during one. In farm country where I live, they're essentially mini-whiteouts. They only last a few minutes but if they're in the forecast for ALL STINKING DAY (which they are today, and were last night), then that means off and on throughout the day at any given time, KAH-BLAMMO, here comes another one. No real warning, except for the forecast that said "travelling conditions are extremely dangerous you reckless, risk-taking dipstick, stay home!" Yes, they actually say that. More or less. Canadians are nothing if not creative when it comes to the warning page on the local weather site. They like to use words like "phenomenal" in the winter time.

So then, When you get these all day, and all night, they form these insane drifts everywhere, including right across the highway and the plows and salt trucks can't keep up. When they come on SUNDAY, it's Tough Cookies Bubba time, since the plows and the salt trucks don't come out as early on Sunday as they do on a work day. They usually start plowing around here just about the time our Sunday morning service starts. Nevermind about Sunday School and the fact that we have to leave our house at 9:20 to make Sunday School then the service at 11, the plows never even come around our way until somewhere between 10:30 and 11 on a Sunday. If it's REALLY bad, we might not even see them until later in the day. It is currently 11:26am and I still haven't seen a plow, or a salter on my road.

The other thing squalls do, is they turn my laneway (a driveway in the country that's usually really long, between the house and the road, and used by both residents of the farmhouse and the tractors and trucks that come and go to the barns & silos) into an ice rink. Hard, driving wind will turn semi-packed snow on a laneway into a solid sheet of ice. You know it's ice when you look out the window and it's sort of glowing, under the snow that is drifting across it. Even IF the plows show up to do the sideroads and highways, they never come down the laneway since it's private property. So, getting from the house to the road is another adventure all it's own. It's a risk I don't even take when I'm out of cream for my coffee (like now) or cheetos (like now). You know things are bad when Carla wont even go out for coffee supplies or her beloved cheetos.

So then, what are snowsqualls, anyway? That's a fine question and I'm glad you asked. The technical answer is that they are mini-snowstorms that happen when icy cold air moves over warmer, moist air over the Great Lakes, and essentially picks up that moisture and relocates it in the form of massive amounts of snow, just to the other side of the lake. Since we live just east Lake Huron, we're in snowsquall/snowband/snowbelt country. Sometimes we get them like mad, other times if they're in the forecast the wind shifts just to the north and we get snow, but not snow accompanied by squalls.

The benefit of moving into the city, is that even in snowsqualls, it's NOTHING like it is in the country. Plenty of houses and structures in the city that act as windbreaks so the drifts and the ice isn't nearly as much of an issue - plus - the city salters and plows are a lot more reliable and punctual 7 days a week, than county folks. Now don't get me wrong, these county folks are great and do a fine job, but there aren't as many of them as there are in the city, to clear these nutty roads.

In the city, you shovel your own driveway (no big whoop, I do it all the time) and don't have to worry if you're going to wipe out driving to the road because there's no laneway to deal with. Plus, if you have to, you can actually walk to the store, to get your dear french vanilla cream for your coffee, and your beloved cheetos, and anything else you ran out of RIGHT before the stinking ugly vicious snowsqualls came and buried your house. Oh, and rest assured, you WILL run out of these things RIGHT before the snowsqualls come, and you wont even know they were in the forecast until you realized you were out of these items AND the snowsqualls begin. It's true, it happens every winter, no matter how well I try to stock up. Personally, I think they could be renamed Sneaksqualls, but that doesn't flow off the tongue as well as snowsqualls.

Now, after all that whining, I do realize of course that God is in control of the weather, and He knows exactly what He's doing. I also realize that even for the lack of missing church again and being short on goodies, I have TONS to be thankful for, such as the wood thats heating my house today, the food in the fridge for supper, and (thankfully!) not being out of toilet paper. Indeed, all of our basic needs and more, are being met today, even if we're stuck in our house and had to miss the fellowship of the saints and the preaching of the word. I'm not at all ungrateful for what we do have, I'm just really frustrated with country living. Especially in the winter. Plus, if I had to walk to the store today, I'd end up Freezy the SnowMom, frozen in place at the edge of a cornfield on a country sideroad, between here and there. I think I'll forego the Winter Trek Adventure, and just go to Rachel's new room and just paint trim, instead.

/rant over



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Saturday, December 6, 2008

Unanswered Questions

I have questions. Lots of them! Here are a few for your consideration. Maybe you can answer some of them?

• Why do people say "eat gum" rather than saying "chew gum"? Do they think you're supposed to eat it, or do they just not realize what they're implying?

• Why do people say they were "bit by a bee" when no self-respecting bee ever bit anyone, in the history of bees? No, bees sting you, they do not bite you, nor do they even have any desire to ever bite you, or anyone else. I don't even think humans are the right flavor for bees. Unless of course, you're one of those people that eat gum, then maybe you're the ones being bit by bees. It's hard to tell, for sure.

Yes, I did.• If a hyper means over or in excess of the standard, then does that mean that a Hyper Calvinist is someone who lives a more active Christian life than a regular Calvinist? Hmm...

• I have some concerns about the moral character of the man who put the Bop in the Bop Shoo Bop Shoo Bop. Allegedly, he's the same man who put the Ram in the Ram-a-Lam-a-Ding Dong, but this has not actually been substantiated by hard evidence. I don't really want to meet him or shake his hand, but I do think he's got too much time on his hands, and it should be better spent.

• If you can drink coffee just before going to bed and sleep just fine, does this mean you should ingest a large mug of relaxing tea in the morning, to wake you up?

• If you throw a snowball on facebook at the people who live in warm climates, does it become a rainball by the time it gets to their account?

• Is the person who let Don Cherry out of the bargain bin at the Grandma's Closet thrift store, guilty of crimes against humanity? I believe he is.

Those are all the questions I have for now.


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Friday, December 5, 2008

Wanted: Kindness

I don't know if anyone else does this but for as long as I can remember, I've had this tendency to think in headlines. I'll give some examples:

My brother and I were playing in my gma's backyard one day and we made up a silly story about a giant spider that attacked the city (yes, we did in fact watch Saturday afternoon Sci-Fi theater, and all the King Kong/Godzilla movies). From that moment on (until this very day, actually) that memory is classified under "Giant Hairy Beast Eats The City!" in my memory banks. There are plenty of headlines just like that one. There's the "Barefoot Pineapple Summer" headline/memory, and then there's the "Grandpa's Pea Green Oldsmobile and Little Trees" healine as well. Those are just a couple from the past that come to mind. But I think this way as it pertains to current happenings as well. Things that stand out to me that I've heard, or read or thought throughout the course of the day. Such as; "Seeing Dead People", "Roadside Freakshow" and "Don't MAKE Me Say This". All things that apply to current situations and/or circumstances that just sort of get filed into headline status. Sometimes I write them down, sometimes I don't even bother. I guess you could say I was maybe pre-programmed to blog, since I'm never at a loss for a headline. I dunno, maybe that's pushing it.

In any case, as I look through the headlines I've written down that I want to dig deeper into at later time, I often come back to them and think "pfft, waste of time" and just delete them. I have a whole pile of stuff like that, some of which has been sitting around for ages, and I still haven't found the time or the right way to dig into it. I'm looking at this list now, and I already know some of those things I will probably never get to, and that's okay too, I suppose.

As I looked over this list today I thought to myself "what is the benefit for anyone, in writing about this" as I skimmed each headline. Some are just plain funny, and will prolly make someone laugh, assuming I ever get around to expanding them out and actually posting them. Others are in my SnarkFest category that I could probably address in a gracious way but may not look so gracious by themselves, as headlines. Others are doctrinal, theological, and/or the kind of practical Christian living stuff that just about every Christian person deals with, in some way.

For me (and I don't dare speak for anyone else on this), part of Christian blogging is a.) expressing my faith in my writing and b.) using the vehicle to genuinely matter, for someone. True, honest, Biblical edification, ya know? There are lots of other functions and purposes of Christian blogging, but those are the top two, I think. For that cause, I generally want to write about things that encourage folks but at the same time keep it real. I don't wan't someone to come along who's never been here before and who is also struggling with some kind of monumental issue and read me say some fluffy junk that doesn't really apply or doesn't honestly address that kind of situation. I want them to know that I know life can sometimes be REALLY stinking hard, and yes, it hurts REAL bad. I want them to know that YES, there are other Christian moms that go through painfully difficult things with their kids. Not only to know that, but to read how at least one of those Christian moms deals with that, and what gets HER through the hard stuff. I don't want to be a critical, condemning, depressing blogger that never has anything good to say about anyone, but finds pesky, nit-picky things to say about just about everyone, all the time. I am a very skeptical and critical and sarcastic personality, so that's not always so easy to pull off, either.

So as I looked over that list of headlines today, and gave lots of thought over the past several weeks to all sorts of things that I'm dealing with on a personal level, and as our focus this week in our Bible course in school has been on kindness, and why it's critical to Christian living, that's the theme that would not let me go.

It's rather easy to be unkind. All it really takes is a pinch of apathy and there you go. I think sometimes silence speaks volumes, especially if what you desperately needed at that moment was a word of hope, but instead just got silence. Christians have no business ever being apathetic, if we truly believe Galatians 6:2 and the many other verses that tell us we're to be helpful and compassionate towards others. If you were to try even harder and actually go out of your way to say unhelpful or needlessly critical things, that unkindness gets even uglier and is usually quite memorable for the one it was aimed at. The tough thing is, you don't even really have to try all that hard to BE unkind - since it comes naturally to fallen man to be that way. What does not come naturally is compassion, and encouragement, and being a helpful, gentle source of restoration and edification. No sir, that kind of treatment does not come naturally, and it's something you have to purpose set OUT to do, and to be. This is something we discussed in school this week and it's still amazing to me the longer I teach, the more I still learn myself. As I'm reading the words in the lessons on kindness they were piercing my own heart, and I was only hoping that they were having the same affect on the kids.

I've had the opportunity recently to ask myself in several unrelated situations "what is truly needed right now?" and the answer kept coming back to kindness. When I opened the Bible lesson book for this week, and saw that the focus was kindness, I laughed outloud and thought "okay Lord, I get it." Being that source of kindness for whoever happens to need it at the moment, isn't all that easy, especially when you're just itchin' to say something or react in a way that isn't so kind, but it's SO worth it, and so important. It's also something I need a lot more schooling in, so I can only assume the Lord will be most gracious to orchestrate more cirumstances where this is required of me. He's really good at doing things like that, and I'm glad for it.



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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Store Stuff: FREE SHIPPING

I normally wouldn't post this until Friday, but since it's time-sensitive stuff, it's going up now. This week's store e-flyer is now up (and we have lots of great new stuff this week, just in time for Christmas!), and with another bonus of FREE SHIPPING for the next 2 days.

Click here to check it out.


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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

One Stringed Banjo Tunes and Hyper-Calvinism, Warmed Over

I have not been able to follow every blog (or even most of them, I'm sure) where the controversy of the J316 conference is being discussed. In fact, I haven't really followed any of them other than what James White and Phil Johnson, and Steve Camp have written. I think they've all done a more than sufficient job of addressing the accusations of Hyper-Calvinism.

Here's what I think is so ironic though. I'd already gone through the whole finger-pointing and accusation of "she's a Hyper-Calvinist with dangerous and unbalanced theology! - Phil Johnson's Primer on HC proves it!!" with Tony Byrne, several years ago. That part is ancient history to me. So here we are several years later, and Tony Byrne shows up again to provide this handy-dandy chart for the J316 conference to essentially make the same claims all over again - this time though - via a much wider platform, and the result being many more people being accused of the same thing as I was. I'm just going out on a limb here, but I'd say that prolly wasn't the smartest move anyone's ever made.

So bloggers blog it, commenters comment on it, as it goes, and continues to go. Now this is the part where it gets ironic.

Suddenly my sitemeter shows lots of visits from Timmy Brister's site, and I wasn't sure why. I went to see and it seems someone left a link in his combox to what I'd already written on this - to demonstrate to Timmy's readers what kind of stuff Tony likes to do. Tony responds to the comment and a.) says he's not responding to comments there anymore because b.) Brister is "willfully permitting disrespectful and abusive comments" to be made.

In other words, someone links to what I've written about Tony's conduct in the past, and Tony runs away with a parting shot at mean ole Brister for letting people be "abusive" (unlike Tony, who is the pinnacle of grace and truth) to him, and making sure he knows that his combox is not "hospitable or conducive to irenic discussion". I wonder how false accusation and attempts at character assasination are "conducive to irenic discussion" in Tony Byrne's world? I wonder if I called my friend tomorrow on the phone and said "hey, how's it going you big, ugly, arrogant slob?", how the rest of that conversation would go? Somehow I don't find unfounded accusation grounds for irenic discussion, but maybe that's just me?

In a word? PFFT. Frankly, I'm glad more people are seeing this, as more bloggers take interest in it. Yes, Theology Matters, as James White is known to say quite often. Knowing what you believe and why you believe it, is very important - even if your hand is forced to elaborate on it because someone with a 1 string banjo lumped you in with those with "unbalanced" theology.

And with that... I'm back to being far too busy with other stuff to really get into this mess, again. Others are doing a superb job of addressing this, so go read them. I just had to get that little rant off the table so I could have more room to wrap Christmas presents.


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The REALLY Good Stuff: Radio Free Geneva

As it pertains to Christian teaching online, there's some really good stuff, some not so good stuff, and then there's the really bad stuff. I think there's probably a lot more of the really bad stuff than anything else. Online, you see, anyone and everyone can fancy themselves an expert, and with the right amout of charisma, they can even pull it off. They don't need to actually know anything, nor do they need to be well read, well researched, or well prepared to defend anything Biblical. The fact that this happens, speaks volumes toward the desperately sad state of genuine Biblical discernment among Christians.

Help support Alpha and Omega Ministries and get your very own, very cool RFG Gear, right here!Then... there's Radio Free Geneva. RFG, in my ever so humble opinion, falls into a category all it's own, "the really REALLY good stuff, that you shouldn't miss for any reason whatsoever".

Not only does Dr. James White do his homework, he's more than willing to say the things that ought to be said, and more than able to exegete Scripture in a way that even the youngest Christian can really understand well.

Yesterday, James continued his review of The John 3:16 Conference and statements made by Paige Patterson, David Allen, etc. You really should listen to what he had to say.




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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Canadian Coup d'état

Exactly, what he said. Plus, I have to add what Kevin said last night as we were watching the news:

"It's sure good to know that when the power hungry, out of touch, greedy politicians didn't like the way the PEOPLE voted, they can do this. It's sure good to know that the votes of the CANADIAN PEOPLE truly do not matter."

So much for the conservative government here in Canada. It was a nice little dream, but now it's time to wake up and smell the Canadian Coup d'état. It's all very surreal. Like a really poorly written novel.



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Monday, December 1, 2008

FREE Shipping at Reflections

If you were considering shopping at my store for Christmas (and who isn't, really?) then today is the day to do it, if you want FREE shipping on any item - and you're in the US. Here are the details:

Use CP Coupon: FEMHOL14 FREE Shipping Dec. 1 - Cyber Monday only!

Free Economy or Standard shipping. Delivery address must be within the United States and cannot be a PO Box. All orders will be Economy shipping unless the order is not eligible for Economy shipping (e.g., order exceeds Economy weight restrictions). Coupon code must be entered at CafePress.com check out. Promotion starts on December 1, 2008, at 12:00 a.m. (PST) and ends on December 1, 2008 at 11:59 p.m. (PST). Cannot be combined with any other CafePress.com offers, discounts or coupons and this offer may change, be modified or cancelled at anytime without notice.

Just click that nifty little graphic under this, and you're there.


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Shopping, Musing, Crushed Foot and an Alberta Clipper

... or, as a possible alternate title:

What I did with my weekend, and why am I so weird?

These days it feels like normal is out the window and scattershot is the new normal. One of the good things about being so busy, it's that it often affords a good amount of thinking-time. Friday was not one of those days, since I spent the day cleaning & reorganizing one of the kid's bedrooms. Rachel is moving into her own room, so all her stuff needed to be cleared out, and since I was already doing that I figured the room needed a good ole fashioned deep clean. Furniture moved, everything vaccuumed that need it, etc. As I was working on taking her ridiculously heavy old bed apart, with the last bolt holding the footboard to the frame, the frame came crashing to the floor with my foot underneath. Two of the kids jumped and screamed, and so I asked them if when they were done screaming, they might lift the frame off my foot. Yeeeouchers that one hurt.

Saturday, I did a major shopping trip. I hadn't even started my Christmas shopping, so on Saturday I spent the better part of 4 hours in various stores in London finding the best bargains. For those that know me, or even for those that have known me for longer than roughly 11.4 seconds, you well know how much I hate shopping. Shopping is 14 minutes from parking the car to going in & getting exactly what I need then getting out as fast as I can, and back to my car. So, this 4 hours business on Saturday was huge for me, not to mention utterly exhausting. The good news is I did not turn into a cave troll, no one got hurt, and I came home with stuff I wanted, and wrapped it all Saturday night.

A Very Mylo Christmas, indeed!While I was shopping, Kev took the kids hiking. I have no idea what any of us were thinking, but I know it left us all completely wiped out for church on Sunday. Major bummer too because we had a guest preacher that I really really wanted to hear speak. Normally, I'm a fairly organized super-mom and can get kids ready for church in a single bound, but this weekend I was not, and I'm sorry for it. So part of Sunday was spent recovering from Saturday, and the other part was decorating for Christmas, inside and out. Kev did the outside lights while I finished setting up my mini-village & other things, while listening to A Very Mylo Christmas. This is a great cd, and if you don't have yours yet, there's one waiting for you. Just click the cd cover and you're on your way to a brand new, favorite Christmas cd tradition!

During the weekend I read the news about Black Friday shopping disasters and how Cyber Monday for online retailers is supposed to be really good this year. I don't know about all that, but here's what I know for sure: shopping online you are almost 100% guaranteed not to get shot, trampled, or be at a loss for a place to park. The bonus is, you can shop in your favorite jammies with a steaming hot cup of your favorite beverage! Toward that end, I've re-designed the storefront at Reflections Apparel and Gifts, for easier navigation & faster loading. I'm quite pleased with the way it turned out, and I hope others are too. Here's another cool thing - for a limited time you can get FREE SHIPPING when you spend $50.00 or more. You could shop for all your favorite people and be done before your hot cocoa is gone, and get free shipping in the process. You can't beat that!

In other store news, I created a fun little video.



A very special thanks to Ron, Eddie, Mylo, Susan, Rebecca and Elizabeth-Kay. We're glad to have our Reflections Supermodels donate their services for these things.

Finally, last night we got nailed with the very edge of an Alberta Clipper. We didn't get as much snow as some other places, but we got A LOT and I'll definitely be shovelling before I make an attempt to back the van out of the driveway today. Along with the snow were strong winds that brought down quite a few branches, that are littered all over the yard. I haven't checked the weather-damage news yet, but I suspect this will be the common story of the day here.

During the course of the weekend I also had some time to think about things that just don't make any sense to me. Things like twitter, and candy cane egg nog. Who comes up with these things? Apparently twitter is like micro-blogging and brevity is the new black. Yeah, and I'm Peter Pan. Actually I'm Peter Pan and longwinded, so I just don't quite "get" twitter, even though I have a twitter account. Who knows. As for candy cane egg nog, I'm just not even sure this isn't a culinary felony, in some ways. No, I haven't tried it yet, everything in me says "taste bud violation, do not proceed!" I may be forced to try it, just to be sure.

And with that, Happy December 1st. Time to stoke the fire, wash the dishes and start school.


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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Calvinists are NOT Saved - Were You Aware of This?

Well then...

After watching the following video at James White's youtube channel, I had a few thoughts. James has turned off his youtube commenting ability, so I'm just going to have to post my thoughts here.

First up, the man who stands to ask a question but gives testimony first, tells everyone that based on a feeling, a personal experience of God's overwhelming presence, and a direct message from God, he finally realized he wasn't saved, as a Calvinist. Now, I would suspect that there are possibly people out there who can repeat the words of a Calvinist, but are truly not regenerated. That much I can believe, only because I think we've all known people in our lives that claim to be Christians and might even sound like one for a while, but that are truly not born again. However, this particular man wants folks to understand that based solely on a feeling, and a very moving personal experience, he came to understand that a.) he was not even saved and b.) God has nothing to do with Calvinistic theology.

Which brings me to my next thought. God has nothing to do with Calvinistic theology. If God Himself revealed this to this man, and he said He did, then every single professing Calvinist on the planet, is unsaved. That means me, that likely means you, and that also means every single Calvinist you know. None of us are saved. Not a one of us. We know this to be true because God Himself revealed it in a personal experience to this man, at the John 3:16 conference - and what's more - is that not ONE of the panel speakers corrected this man. Not one of them.

Why did none of these men interject and said "whoa, hold on there pardner"? Do they also believe like this man, that Calvinists are not saved and that God must save us all out of Calvinism? Similarly, why did none of them speak up and address his "personal experience" and direct revelation from God on these matters? Do they likewise believe that personal, emotional experiences are valid and authoritative? This is a question I might have stood to ask them myself. It's a question I'm asking now, but somehow I doubt any of them will be along to answer. It's certainly not the first time I've heard someone testify that they were regenerated by God's Holy Spirit and base their affirmation of that on an emotional experience. Not broken by their sin, not seeing themselves as a sinner in need of a savior, not acknowledging either of these things or in at least one case I know of, not even knowing that Christ had risen from the dead. Just a powerful, highly charged emotional experience of "Jesus LOVES you" combined with what some claim to be either a direct audible or direct revelation from God Himself, about His love and plan for them, and that was that. Yes, I 've heard this kind of testimony before, and if you've ever been in a pentecostal/charismatic type of church, you have too. Oddly enough though, I've also heard it from those professing to hold to the five points of Calvinism. I'll let someone else do the math on that one, since from where I sit it just doesn't add up.

Another thought I had, was on why this man was frustrated with Calvinism to begin with. He felt that there was no power in it anyway, since he was not able to overcome sin in his life. That was his initial struggle he claims, with a Calvinistic worldview; the lack of power in it. My question to that is simply this - how many non-Calvinists are there walking around that have in fact overcome sin in their lives, and are living a sinless life? None that I know of, and none that Scripture speaks of. Now I know that we all grow and become more mature in our faith and that we do become stronger as it pertains to battling against our own personal inclination toward sin, but I don't care what your theological bent is, while we are in the flesh there is not a single human being that is EVER going to completely overcome sin. It's simply not possible, as we are living in a body OF sin, and we cannot be seperated from that. Sin is always there, the temptation to sin is always there, but so is the grace and the guidance and wisdom of God to give us the direction and the power we need to avoid it - IF - we rely on Him. This man in this clip didn't know of this power. Why is that? I would suggest that it's entirely possible he truly was not saved to begin with, as he suggests, and that would explain why he could easily talk the talk but felt alone when it comes to walking the walk. Genuine Christians know where their help comes from, and we humble ourselves and turn to Him, daily! We must confront the sin in our own lives head on, be honest before God about it and humbly and desperately turn to Him for the wisdom and the guidance to overcome that. If we do not do this, if we do not take responsibility and own it ourselves, but just expect God to do some kind of parlor trick every time sin pops up, we're fooling ourselves about what our own responsibility is, as it pertains to living out our Christian faith.

Finally, the man who stood to deliver his testimony and ask a question, asks the panel what they (the SBC overall) plan to "do" about this horrendous theological nightmare of Calvinism. He didn't say it that way, but it was pretty clear such a horrible theological worldview is thought of this way if it's something God must save His people from. One of the panel speakers (David Allen, the same one that declared James White to be a hyper-Calvinist) answers and in part says that one thing the SBC should not do, to address this issue is to hold conferences where Calvinism is the main focus. Well, I haven't seen all the dvds or heard all the messages (they're not free, and I don't have that kind of money to pay to get them), but from what I have heard, and based on what I have read, it seems to me that whatever their purpose was for this John 3:16 conference certainly turned into a conference where Calvinism was the main focus. I found that just a little bit ironic.

And with that, I leave you to watch this video and come to your own conclusions.







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Friday, November 28, 2008

Store Stuff: Reflections Weekly eFlyer

This week's eFlyer is now online (or in your mailbox if you're a subscriber), and here it is:


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Under Pressure

Change. These days, the first thing folks are likely to think when they hear that word is something connected to the Obama campaign. Me? I think of loose change you unexpectedly find, like that quarter that I almost vaccuumed up today. The other kind of change is a shift in schedule, or circumstances. That kind of change I just do not do well with.

The last 4-6 weeks there has been a lot of that going on, and most of it has left me sort of going "wha!?" and wondering how I'm supposed to adjust, adapt, and keep rolling right along. Kev's schedule changed for a month, so I had to adjust to that. I was desperately ill for over a month, and everyone, me included, had to adjust to that. One of my daughters moved out, and there was another adjustment. It began to snow much earlier than usual and so there was yet another change up. I received news that Kev and I are going to be grandparents again come spring, so that was one major and monumental adjustment. There's been other stuff too, and it all seems like it came down the pike at the same time, and I haven't been adjusting too well at all. This was my first week back as "teacher" for the kids and I didn't do so hot with a full day's lesson plan, each day. Next week I plan to get back on track, but this week was pretty much a write off.

As I've been thinking about these changes and praying about things these past few weeks, it has occured to me that the saying "grace under pressure" really makes so much more sense that it ever has before. It may sound trivial to lose it over an insignificant change, but when that one change is accompanied by so many others, and you're already not handling it all very well, it's quite possible that the way you react isn't the best possible reaction you could have. Like for example when you're sick, and not in top form. The dog just runs through the kitchen leaving muddy paw prints, after you've mopped. Not 10 seconds later, someone spills lemonade on the same floor, and someone else is crying outside because they've cut their foot on something (because they were playing outside barefoot, right after you told them to put their shoes on) and they're bleeding all over the deck. In case you're wondering, yes, this actually did happen once. How do you respond?

Do you throw up your hands and shout "Calgon, take me away!!" like the uber-stressed out lady in the old commercials? Or, do you calmly and graciously attend to the bleeding kid first, then have the juice-spiller clean up his own mess, while you re-mop the floor, with a smile on your lips and a song in your heart? The first example is actually quite silly, and the second one (while wonderfully serene sounding) isn't very realistic for most moms. Especially moms who are dealing with multiple things going on at once that all need her attention. However, there is much to be said for learning how to gracefully react to multiple stress inducing situations, even if they do all seem to happen at once.

In life, things change all the time. Sometimes a lot of changes happen all at once and sometimes they are very stressful and hard to deal with. There are a couple of things that will bring a great deal of peace however, in times like that. Those two things are prayer, and Bible reading. Those are the two constant things that never change no matter what else is changing. I have noticed a remarkable difference in the way I react to change now, compared to the way I reacted when those two things were not a part of my every day life. Some people call these spiritual disciplines in the Christian life. I simply call them "what Christians do".

There is a great deal of comfort and wisdom to draw on when you open the Scriptures and begin to read. If you're approaching the word with a humble heart preparing to grow and learn something, your focus is immediately drawn away from your circumstances and onto the richness of God's word. Suddenly, your circumstances seem less immediate or less stressful, as your heart and mind is dwelling on the very words of God. Bowing the knee in prayer will likewise put you in a place of humility and grace. You may not even know how to pray for a particular situation anymore (I think we've all been there), but you simply bring it before the Lord once again, and seek His wisdom in how you are to deal with it. You know He is able, you know He is capable, and you know He has the wisdom and guidance you're seeking. There is no such thing as a situation (or even a whole pile of them all at once) that are too big for the Lord to handle. They might feel too big for you, and they might indeed be to much for you, but you know there is nothing you can go to Him for, that He can't handle, for you.

I am convinced that the more you do this, the less those great big, stressful, shifting circumstances will seem so overwhelming. Oh you might still want to lock yourself in the bathroom and take a bubble bath (and I'm a huge advocate of bubble baths) but only after you react with grace, and handle things the way you should.


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