Thursday, July 31, 2008

Sam's PB/Chocolate Blowout

My son, is a genius. I know, every mother thinks highly of her own kids, but I'm telling you, this boy is sharp! I'll explain...

Normally when the jar of peanut butter is empty we just toss it in the trash without a second thought. Samuel decided the other day, that something on the label was worth a second look so he carefully removed the label and cut the section out. He brought it to me and said "mom, we really need these". It was a recipe that looked ridiculously yummy. I did what I always do with recipes, I improved it, and renamed it. :-) Without further delay...


Sam's PB/Chocolate Blowout


1.5 c. chocolate cookie crumbs*
1/2 c. melted butter
1/4 c. sugar
2 c. chocolate chips
1/2 c. peanut butter
2 c. mini marshmallows

Melt the butter and stir into cookie crumbs & sugar. (*You can use oreo crumbs, or graham crumbs) Press the crumb mixture in the bottom of an 8" square pan & bake for 5 minutes at 350. Remove & let cool. Meanwhile melt the chocolate chips & pb together until chips are completely melted. Stir in marshmallows and pour over cookie crust. Chill for 1 hour. Cut into 2" squares.


Yeah... that worked! :-)



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Midnight Skies

Last night before turning in for the night, I did what I always do. I kneeled at the side of my bed and thanked the Lord for another day of mercy, providence and grace, and then I told on myself and everyone else I know that has asked me to pray for them, or that simply needs the Lord working in their lives right now.

When I raised my head and opened my eyes, my gaze was immediately drawn to my window. My eyes had already adapted to the darkness of the room so what I saw out the window just left me breathless. In a perfectly clear sky, countless stars shimmered and sparkled as if they were flung there just for me to watch last night. It was such a brilliant sky, that I had to get up and go sit under the window for a while and just watch. Within seconds I was treated to two shooting stars that were both so brilliant, I actually said "wow" outloud. With my eyes trained on the sky, in my peripheral vision I could see countless numbers of bats flying around in the yard and right up to the window I was standing at. I just stood there for several minutes thinking how incredibly cool the midnight skies are. (Okay it was actually 1:38 am according to the clock, but that's besides the point).

I know it may seem trivial to a lot of people, but God's creation just fascinates me. From as early as I can remember, it has. I recall as a little girl, sitting in my gma's backyard under the apple tree and collecting the brown, curled up leaves from under the bushes in the flower beds, just so I could carefully uncurl them and flatten them out. Now that might sound strange to most people, but it was just one of those things that captured my attention as a kid. Whenever I'd come across a curled leaf that had a spider or some other critter inside creating an egg nest, I'd curl it back up and stick it back under the bush. I did this so much that it become common for me to try to peek through the end first, to see if it was an "egg" leaf so that I didn't disturb whatever was growing in there. That, plus sitting in the park creating daisy chains (yeah, I grew up on the tail end of the hippie era, and daisy chains were just a part of that world) was such a common thing for me to do, that when I started drawing, it was flowers and leaves that I would draw the most, and pay most attention to detail in every petal or stem. I still love to draw them, and they're still the only thing I can really draw well.

So, why am I telling you this? Well, if you're anything like me and your life is anything like mine, you're probably busy a lot, and don't take the time you might like to really stop and smell the roses. Or, to sit outside on a clear night and watch the skies, or the fireflies, or the bats. Or take a walk in the woods, or alongside a creek, or on the beach and just listen to the sound of a slower ecosystem. Life can get so busy and so hectic that by the end of the day you just may not get to unplug and detach from "stuff" so you have to really make the time to do this. I remain convinced that we need that slower time to balance out the craziness of modern life and modern technology and conveniences.

I was chatting with a fellow channel rat (#prosapologian regular, for those who aren't sure what a channel rat is) last night, about sky photography, and she (hey gracey!) asked if she will ever tire of looking at the skies and taking pictures. Being a fairly recent convert to the joys of scenic photography, I think she thinks this is a passing fad or novelty. I assured her, that God's canvas is so rich in beauty that she will likely never tire of capturing it with her camera. For most people, once they are captured by the beauty of creation, it's for good.

So, here's what you should do today, or tonight. Whatever is on your planner for today, however busy you are, do your very best to set aside 30 minutes or an hour to just be still and take in the scenic beauty around you. Sit in your back yard and enjoy your garden, or go to a park and enjoy theirs. Go somewhere where there's more grass than concrete, more trees than buildings, and more birds than cars, and thank God for the beauty He's surrounded us with. I promise you, you'll be glad you did that, and it may even become habit forming. :-)


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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Online Tone... huh?

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I've been online a long time. I've seen a lot of comments about the way people communicate online, and I've seen a lot of left-field accusations about perceived "tone". Generally, comments made about "tone" are done in the negative, i.e. "I didn't like the tone of your post, you give the impression of arrogance". I know you've seen that too - we've all seen it. Sometimes it's a pretty accurate description, other times it couldn't be more wrong.

Here's the real problem with this sort of thing. One, unless you know the person (and I mean really know them, not just know who they are, online - and yes - there is a HUGE difference) perceptions of their "tone" may be entirely dead wrong. The other part of the problem is, the lack of facial expression, the lack of REAL tone (voice) the lack of body language, and the lack of communication that takes place in face to face discussion. Online, text-only communication leaves out this very important element of meaningful discussion, and can (in many ways) often lead to unfortunate miscommunication.

Let's say you read a post about abortion. The writer of the post is someone who, as an unsaved young woman, had an abortion. You don't know that because you don't know her or her history. She writes with great conviction and great passion, and struggled through much of what she has written with tears streaming down her face and a lump in her throat. Her only agenda and motivation for writing such a painful and personal piece, is to reach out to other young women who have gone through the same nightmare but she writes without revealing that she has personally experienced it herself. Then, someone comes along and accuses her of being judgemental, careless, and unkind toward those who have experienced this. They accuse her of this based partly on their wrong perception of her "tone", and partly because they don't know her at all - or - know only what others have told them about her (which may or may not be true). (This is actually a real example that I watched unfold a few years ago on a Christian discussion forum. To say it was a horrific mess is to put it lightly, and it all came about as a result of a misunderstanding of "tone").

I've had this sort of thing happen to me as well. I've written about a topic that was so incredibly heavy on my heart, and with tears streaming down my own face, only to have someone comment or email and let me have an earful of their venom. It's a rather unpleasant scenario. Especially when you're so preoccupied with doing a good job with the post that you never consider for a moment that someone will not "get" it. In some cases it's because you didn't write in a sort of lawyer-mode, anticipating the potential arguments or weak points - and in other cases it could very well be that someone just had a bad hair day and took your words the wrong way. Either way, because it's online and not face to face, the missing element is the personal element.

Its interesting to note how expressive folks can be face to face and how much of that you miss completely, when all you see are words on a screen. I know many people that like me, use their hands almost constantly when they speak. Someone once told me that this is an artistic expression - and I find it curious that it is generally the more artsy, creative people that I know, that are the kinds that often speak with their hands. Folks also use a variety of facial expressions and body language when they speak, that is guaranteed to be missed in such a medium as blogging or web authoring. Sadly, tone of voice is missed as well, and that can often be the critical element in understanding someone's point, passion or focus.

I thought about all of this recently as I watched my friend James do his Dividing Line show, on video. It's much different than watching him face the camera and make his points, or watching him present his side of a debate. Far more relaxed and casual in that video, you can watch his facial expressions as he listens to audio clips he's about to comment on and you can practically watch the wheels of thought turning as he prepares to address a point being made. Hand gestures, smiles, expressions of being perplexed, dismayed, disappointed, humored, frustrated and more. If you don't know James, and don't know that he always smiles when he says certain things, or is always dead serious when says certain other things, you might miss some of that by just reading his words in a book, or on a screen. While James is an excellent writer, the personal element of seeing someone's face as they speak (as you can in his 250+ youtube videos!) is still missing from his written work.

This is the element that is so glaringly absent from online communication in general. Of course some folks try to blend it in by using :-) or "lol" but it's really not the same thing. There is no way you can know (unless I tell you) that while writing that last line, my facial expression was similar to Spock in Star Trek, when he'd quizzically raise one eyebrow. (Although, I don't have the gift of One Eyebrow Raising - my brother is really good at it, but I cannot do it).

I recall reading Kim Shay's very next blog post, after the first time I met her face to face three years ago (was it really that long ago??) After having spent hours chatting away about every topic you can come up with, I had a much better understanding of her personality than I ever had just by reading her blog. While it obvious just by reading her blog that we "clicked" in many ways, I felt like I understood her so much better after getting to know her outside of Bloggy Land. Reading that next post I remembered her facial expressions when she said serious or funny things, and it made a very noticable difference for me in the way I read her words.

I'm not so sure there is any kind of certain work-around on this, unless maybe it's youtube and video blogging. Now I know that everyone isn't about to start doing that, but I do think it would often be far more helpful to actually see a person's face and to hear the real tone of voice they use, when someone is taking on a hugely important topic. Most bloggers would never do this partly because expressing themselves in writing is their expression of choice (and some do it VERY well) and partly because some of them prefer to express in jammies and uncombed/unstyled hair, that would have to be remedied before going in front of a camera.

I recently changed the batteries in my digital camera to really great ones, and decided to play around with the video settings to see how much better it worked. I made a short video and watched my own facial expressions as I spoke about video blogging, and just laughed at how different I sound, than how I know I'm read - or often accused of coming across as mean, or uncaring. People that know me, know how I really am, while people that do not, might not really "get" me simply by reading my words on a screen.

Since not everyone is going to be willing to begin videoblogging, I think it's always a good reminder to try harder all the time to be more accurate in writing, since we're eliminating so many of the aspects of standard communication. We have to make up for that in mere words, and it really is an art form. With the increase in online communications through blogs, social networking sites, chats and more, I think it's more important that ever to stress good written communication skills. Maybe writing with the anticipation in the back of your mind that some might disagree with your point or not quite understand it at first, is not such a bad idea. Maybe writing with the understanding that face to face, "silent" communication is missing and you need to make up for that with a good choice of words, would be helpful. No matter how you approach your own writing online, it's a benefit to the reader if you do approach it with the idea that it's really easy to be misunderstood in this medium.

Now here's a fun thing. Do you really know what my tone is like? Huh, huh, DO YA, HUH? (Just kidding) Well, now that you've read this post and have one impression of my tone, click to play the video below, for the youtube PS to this post. Maybe you really do know what my tone is like, and maybe you don't? I thought it would be fun to produce a short videoblog spot, so that you can actually see/hear me. It's quite probable that I will not come across exactly the same way you assumed I would - and that only proves my point. Videoblogging is definitely not my thing, so please forgive the amature that tries very hard to put a cork in the smart alec side, and balance that all out with grace. Sometimes I do okay with that balancing act, and other days I blow it in huge ways. By His grace, I'll keep balancing.

I do hope you're encouraged & challenged by this to be a lot more mindful of how your words are coming across to whoever happens along your blog.








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Monday, July 28, 2008

Store Stuff: Words Matter

Some time ago, I noticed a tag cloud on a webpage and I thought "I like the way that looks, it's intriguing and sends a cool message at the same time". That was about my only thought about that. Then not long after I saw another one, then another one, and then they became commonplace. I see them all the time, and I'm sure you do too. They are so common to me now that I think my eye has been trained to just ignore them.

Words MatterThe other day I was reading Ann's blog (which you can now find in the live blogroll in the sidebar) and I saw one again but hers really stood out to me. I loved the words that made up her tag cloud, and it inspired me to create with some very carefully chosen words that define the Christian life.

I only have one so far, but I have some ideas for more. ( I chose not to use a tag cloud generator but instead did this manually. It's a lot harder than it looks, doing it this way, but I'm picky about such things.) I hope you like this as much as I enjoyed creating it.

I've created a limited line of products that include mini poster print (11x17), rectangle magnets (shown here), tote bag, throw pillow, keepsake box, coffee mug, note cards, postcards, calendar print (2009 calendars in stock very soon) and a variety of womens & kids t-shirts, hoodies and sweatshirts. A great way to make a profound statement, without ever saying a word.

Because... Words Matter.

(Thank you Ann!)



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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Computer Woes... again

So I'm in the kitchen making a potato salad when a lightning storm begins with a loud BANG. Suddenly, the power goes out for just a few seconds and it's followed by a very loud thunderclap. My first thought is "uh oh, there goes my modem". I didn't have time to come unplug, and sure enough, by the time I was done in the kitchen I checked my modem and POOF, it was toast. :-( This is not the first time that this has happened - the last time it fried the modem in mine as well as the family computer. At least this time it was only one of them.

The good news is, with everyone else on the planet using highspeed, 56k modems have come down so low in price, it's almost silly. To replace the exact modem in my tower I'd be looking at $14.99 plus tax. I admit it, I giggled when I saw the price. Instead of replacing the exact one though, I'm going to get an external usb 56k plug & play modem. From all the reviews I've read on it, it's an excellent modem and the best part is, I don't have to open my tower! Opening towers is for people that are not me. Inside the tower are scary things that intimidate me.

So for now it's Blogging Lite since I'm on the family pc. Tomorrow I'll head to the handy-dandy computer place and grab myself a nifty little usb modem, and hopefully, be back in business.


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Saturday, July 26, 2008

And now for something completely different...

Warning: the following post has no theological, doctrinal or controversial content whatsoever. It's just for FUN, because I like fun things. My mom sent this to me, and I enjoyed. Maybe you will too?

Learn new things about your friends and let them learn things about you!

1) Do you like blue cheese salad dressing? LOVE it!

2) Do you own a gun? Well, if I told you the answer to that, then I'd have to... well, you know. And yes, I do know how to use it. I'm a pretty good aim, too. ;-)

3) What's a favorite drink at Starbucks or other specialty coffee house? Specialty coffee house would be Tim Hortons and drink of choice would extra large cafe mocha.

4) Do you get nervous before a doctor's appointment? Depends on why I'm going.

5) What do you think is hot? Hot as in cool? Well, let's see. The new Trans Am is pretty hot. The Canon Digital Rebel, flat screens, swimming pools, and chocolate. Seems a fairly decent list.

6) What do you prefer to drink in the morning? Copious amounts of coffee, with either cafe mocha cream or french vanilla cream.

7) Can you do pushups? Well, lets be specific - the regulation push up or the cheater push up? I have no idea if I can do the standard push up, I haven't tried since 10th grade. I can however do cheater push ups and do them 5 days a week. Cheater push ups are the kind you do standing at an angle and with the aid of a chair back or wall, or the kind you do on your knees and only go part-way down before returning to the beginning position.

8) What's your favorite piece of jewelry? A sterling silver spoon ring my mommy gave me when I was 15. It's been on the same finger now for 27 years. Folks regularly comment on it, and say things like "wow, I haven't seen one of those in YEARS!" I love it. (Some day I'll get another one, I love silver rings and until I lost weight I had 11 of them on my fingers. I lost weight and they fell off and were lost. I only have 5 left.

9) Favorite hobby? I don't have a single favorite - I like lots of things. Reading, writing, graphic design, gardening, beating whoever shows up on the badminton court.

10)Do you have A.D.D? No, but I do have 7 kids that keep me distracted, confused, side-tracked and pre-occupied beyond what I can usually keep organized. Now, where are the kitchen scissors and why is there a rubber, neon green ant the size of an apple, in the dish drainer? Did I wash him? Was he dirty? What was the question again?

11)What's one trait that you hate about yourself? This is supposed to be fun, and there are too many of these to list, so we'll just skip this question like it never happened! w00t, fun!!

12)Middle name? Rae... as in... a ray of sunshine. *snort

13)Name 3 thoughts at this exact moment. 1. I snort when I laugh hard, 2. Why is my desk a mess, again? 3. I have to make a potato salad this morning for Caryn and Eric's engagement party this afternoon.

14)Name 4 drinks you regularly drink. Milk, water, coffee, pink lemonade.

15)Current worry right now? My gma's health, and that it doesn't thunder and lightning and pour down rain all over the party this afternoon. And... that 3 girls I know would come to a place of reconciliation. Soon.

16)Current hate right now? Cellulite. Please.

17)Favorite place to be right now? Anywhere that has a.) wildlife b.) no mosquitos c.) trees & trails and d.) with my camera

18)Do you like to travel? I love it, and wish I could do more of it.

19)Name three people who will respond to this: hmmm... mom, Caryn, and I have no idea.

20)Do you own slippers? No, I threw them out. I need new ones before fall. I need genuine leather, fur lined moccasins with hard soles (yes, I need those!), but what I'll likely end up with are WalMart specials.

21)What color shirt are you wearing? Heather gray Sea Lion Caves souvenier t-shirt. If you've never been there and you're on the west coast, go. Take the kids, they'll love it.

22)Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? Never had any. Sleeping is good though.

23) Can you whistle? Of course. Can you?

24)Favorite color? I don't have a favorite, I like lots of colors. If however, forced to pick one color over all others it would likely be a deep, hunter green.

25)Would you be a pirate? No. Pirates were a.) criminals b.) had poor fashion sense c.) did not bathe regularly d.) had awful oral hygiene and e.) weren't very nice overall.

26)What song do you sing in the shower? Hmm... that varies. Don't you just love bathroom acoustics though?

27)Favorite girls name? I don't have a favorite.

28)Favorite boys name? No favorites there either.

29) What's in your pocket right now? I don't have any pockets on the shorts I'm wearing.

30)Last thing that made you laugh? Probably wasn't the last thing, but watching Kevin slide down the water tube slide at the waterpark was pretty funny. It wasn't as funny when I did it the first time, it was scary! So, I had to do it again. :-)

31)Best bed sheets as a child? This struck me as a really strange question. I'm pretty sure I just had regular sheets as a kid, but my sister had this REALLY COOL sleeping bag with pink ballerinas all over it. I had a sleeping bag too, but mine didn't have the cool pink ballerinas on it.

32)Worst injury you've ever had? Worst as in terms of pain, was the first time I had a calcium build up in my shoulder. Getting the injection of pain-be-gone at the hospital ER was a happy time. Tying for place two would be the bike wreck with my friend in grade school, jumping my bike off a ramp and having the front wheel come off (tip: being gored with handle bars is not advisable) and the time I put my hand on a burner that had just been turn off. Eww, and more eww.

33)Do you love where you live? Yes and no. I love the property, but I am learning how to be content in all things. (Horrid question to ask a homesick person!)

34)How many TVs do you have in your house? Three.

35)Who is your loudest friend? Technically, I think that would have to be my pastor.

36)How many pets do you have? Dougal, Tulip, DJ, Pyro, Rusty.

37)Does someone have a crush on you? If they do, they need help.

38)What's your favorite book? Not counting the Bible, I'd probably say my favorite books were the set of encyclopedias I used to browse through as a kid. Doing that opened up my love for reading, and learning.

39)What's your favorite candy? There's a tie there. It's between dark chocolate covered sponge toffee, triple dipped malted milk balls, and black licorice. I think I just gained 9 pounds typing that.

40)Favorite Sports Team? I don't have one, but my favorite sport to play and watch, is baseball.

41)What were you doing at 12 AM last night? I was watching a movie.

42)What was the first thing you thought of when you woke up? First thing I thought was "I wonder what time it is and if the coffee is done" followed by "wow, it rained" followed by "I hope I didn't leave anything outside" followed by "oh man, the van windows are down" followed by "I have to make a potato salad this morning". That was all before I made it downstairs.




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Friday, July 25, 2008

Life is a Walk in the Park

If there is one way to clear your head and enjoy life, it's to take your kids for a picnic in the park, and take your camera. Well, it works for me anyway, and here is a slice of our day at the Avon in Stratford yesterday:

You can see more here, if you like. It was a perfect picnic-in-the-park day. Today, we're off to a local waterpark, where I can expect lots of squeals & sunburned shoulders by the end of the day (and that's just me!)


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Thursday, July 24, 2008

- UPDATED - Mark Driscoll: Modern Day Prophet?

UPDATED BELOW

SECOND UPDATE BELOW

While I could have easily written this post in a 'generalized' way without naming any names or sources, sometimes I don't think that's very helpful or realistic. Sometimes generalized posts like that tend to paint a picture of "this COULD happen" rather than drive home the point of "this IS happening". Being a Berean matters a great deal, and this is one of those situations where we can look and listen a little closer and practice that.

The day before yesterday I wrote:



"I do have a feeling that a lot of those who call themselves "reformed" and "charismatic" at the same time might not be nearly as critical of my old church, as I am. I find that striking as well, and deeply disturbing. While none of this is new to me, it just seems to keep popping up all the time, and with more frequency. Also rather disturbing, is that it's becoming more and more embraced by those who call themselves reformed, or Calvinistic."
While in that church, it was quite common for someone to get a "word of knowledge" and share that with whomever it was about. Quite often this information came in the form of visions where the person would then interpret the vision to mean whatever it was supposed to mean. While the vision itself may have been a normal scenario (such as two men walking down the street) or it may have appeared as a rather outrageous scenario (such as a dark cloudy form that appeared to be alive, surrounding a person) the interpretation of it would usually include something that someone was supposed to do, in order to remain faithful to God's will for their lives (i.e., go to seminary, get married, etc.). The person would then announce that God spoke to them in the form of a vision and this is what it meant. There was never anything in Scripture to back this up, nor did you ever question if they really "heard" from God, or if their interpretation of that vision was at all accurate. If someone had a vision and said they heard from God, that's just the way it was and you were not to question it. Doing so would indicate your lack of spiritual maturity, lack of faith, and lack of desire to get in where God was moving and doing great things. Generally, these 'prophecies' would simply come to pass because the person it was about, would see to it that they did what the "prophet" told them to do. After all, the vision and the message were directly from God, so they did not question it.

If you'd like a real, current example of this kind of 'prophetic word' being spoken forth, then here you go (emphasis is mine):



"At this stage Driscoll announced that God had spoken to him and he had a prophetic word for our movement and Terry. He really had our attention. Mark looked directly at Terry and began his prophecy. He told Terry that "Newfrontiers was like a daughter to you. You have birthed it, held it, guarded it, cared for it, tended to it, prayed for it, loved it. You have been an amazing father to them." Mark said that while at Terry's home he had noticed all the family pictures. In particular he had noticed a picture of the wedding of Terry's daughter and a picture of Terry walking Anna down the aisle to give her away. He felt that God said, while not in the immediate future, "there will come a day when you will need to walk Newfrontiers down the aisle and marry her to a great man so she will have children." - John Lanferman writing about Mark Driscoll's recent visit.

To actually hear for yourself what Driscoll said, go here. You can hear this on "Main Session 6" at roughly 1 hour and 22 minutes into the message.

While I do not know if Driscoll calls himself a prophet, I know that others certainly do. And now, some questions.

• What is the Biblical test to prove if a man is a true prophet, or a false one?
• Can we make a distinction between Prophet and prophet - and back it up with Scripture? (What I mean by this, is there a difference between someone raised up by God to foretell future events as revealed to them by God, and someone who is simply retelling what has already been revealed in Scripture. In other words, is the office of prophet in the formal sense of the OT prophets and first century church, still in effect today?)
• Does the Bible say that God literally speaks to His people today the way He did in OT or NT times?
• How do we reconcile the definition of Sola Scriptura (the Scriptures alone are our sole rule of faith and practice), with the idea that God gives extra-biblical revelation (i.e., specific details about events that have not yet come to pass - and - are nowhere to be found in Scripture)?
Does God give extra-biblical revelation today?
• If someone says "God spoke to me" how do you know it's true?

Between what I read at John Lanferman's blog, and what I heard Mark Driscoll say in that above linked mp3 (and what I've heard him say at other times regarding the sign gifts, and the claim that he has heard God audibly speak to him on a few occasions), there is no question in my mind at all, that aside from the dogmatic free will teachings, there are A LOT of "reformed charismatics" that would have felt right at home in my old church. The language is eerily the same, with a heavy emphasis on profound spiritual and deeply emotional experiences. The tongues, the prayer languages, the healings, the prophesying - all of it present and accounted for.

I'd be most interested in your thoughts to my questions. This is not a "bash Driscoll" post, just in case you were wondering, these are serious questions for consideration.
---------------------------

UPDATE:

Connie at Practicing Theology, after consulting Grudem's Systematic Theology, is left with very similar questions as those I've posed here. A fellow ex-charismatic (although I'm not entirely sure I can call myself that since I never really embraced it all, but was always desperately confused by it and had more questions than charismatics are allowed to have), Connie's post "Hear me now and believe me later: "continued" revelation today" is great food for thought. Do go and read it, and consider her questions as well.

SECOND UPDATE:

A reader of this blog contacted me today after noticing something that didn't quite add up for them. If you have listened to Mark Driscoll's mp3 linked above, you will notice that he says "It was interesting the prayers that were given and the Scriptures that were read beforehand, I felt that God gave me a word, (long pause) and it really was in line..." He then goes on to give what some are calling a historic and prophetic word of God for the ministry of Newfrontiers. It would appear that they believe and that Driscoll was intending for them to understand that it was during his time just prior to speaking that this prophetic word came to him.

Here is the way John Lanferman described the statement:

He told Terry that "Newfrontiers was like a daughter to you. You have birthed it, held it, guarded it, cared for it, tended to it, prayed for it, loved it. You have been an amazing father to them." Mark said that while at Terry's home he had noticed all the family pictures. In particular he had noticed a picture of the wedding of Terry's daughter and a picture of Terry walking Anna down the aisle to give her away. He felt that God said, while not in the immediate future, "there will come a day when you will need to walk Newfrontiers down the aisle and marry her to a great man so she will have children."


Here is the concern which I find very compelling. The reader who pointed this out to me suggests that it was rather curious that this near-exact wording was used by Mark Driscoll to define himself and his own ministry involvement, over 8 months ago in a cover letter that accompanied a 145 page document distributed to Mars Hill Church members. Here is that section of the cover letter:

"Emotionally, I told our Board of Directors recently that I felt like I walked Mars Hill down the aisle
and married her off so that she could be best cared for and loved in the next season of her life. I
remain her father who loves and cares for her and is vitally involved in her growth and well-being,
but now trust the elders to take good care of her thanks in part to a structure that enables her to
be loved well." - source


I have been informed from an extremely reliable source, that this is in fact the very cover letter that accompanied the document mentioned above. Obviously I had to ask myself "was this so-called 'historic' prophecy just that, or was he just using something he'd already used before, changing the names, but attributing the "vision" to the Lord, instead of himself, to lend more credibility to his words?" I think it's a fair and valid question, considering the above information.

I share this information here with my readers so that they also can look a little closer at this and truly BE Bereans, and not just blindly accept and endorse whatever they hear from popular evangelical leaders or their most vocal supporters. None of us are perfect, and none of us are infallible - and none of us deserve to be exalted in such a way as some appear to be doing with Mark Driscoll.

Once again, theology matters. Our theology, if based on blind acceptance of what others say God is like, or God is doing, is then a man-centered theology and dishonoring to God completely. Our view of God should be the one HE has revealed about Himself, and He deserves no less than for us to diligently search the Scriptures to know Him.





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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

THEOLOGY MATTERS: and it's not JUST a cool t-shirt

Dr. James White is known for making this statement often, and explaining what he means by that. I recall one of the first times I ever heard him say this, and then go on to explain what he meant by it, how I'd wished I would have heard that statement years ago when I was in a messed up church where theology did not matter. Allow me to explain what I mean when I say that.

For me, your theology matters because how you view God, determines how you view yourself, and everything else. If you understand God according to the Scriptures, you are on the right track. If however you understand God through any kind of man-centered ministry or religion, you're definitely not holding to the view of God that HE Himself has left us a record of, through His inspired word. "Theopneustos" - the Scriptures are God-breathed, and there can be no more accurate view or understanding of Him, that what He has given of Himself. Yes, I believe that with all my heart and do not apologize for it. It is a reasonable and a logical understanding that you will never know more about anyone, than you can know from what they themselves have revealed about themself. This is exactly what God Almighty has done through His word. It's that written record that declares who He is, and defines His character toward man. Man cannot improve upon it, take away from it, add to it, or skew it in any way.

A brief background for those who may have never read here before:

In the church I was in as a new Christian, there was a lot more serving the Goodie God, than anything else. Living the Christian life was not about living in fear and reverence of a holy God, it was not about striving for holy living yourself, and it was not about studying the Scriptures so that one might show themselves approved before God, rightly dividing the word, exercising Biblical discernment, and growing in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Nor was it about understanding your sinful nature before a just and righteous God, and battling daily to deny the sinful temptations of the flesh and serve Him with a pure heart. No, in that church it was all about serving the Goodie God.

The Goodie God was the one who, if you just had enough faith you could be healed of whatever ailed you, you could attain financial freedom and success, you could grow by leaps and bounds in your faith (evidenced by embracing the full-on sign-filled wonders taking place, and speaking quite loudly in tongues), and you could have "things" that other Christians didn't have. Because you exercised your free will and decided to follow Jesus, if you also just took that step of faith and named it, then claimed it, you too could have all these goodies, from the Goodie God. You'd know it was all true and real too, evidenced by the powerful and emotional spiritual experiences you were having on a regular basis. Experiences matter a great deal you see, because you can't put God in a box (aka: you cannot confine the work of the Holy Spirit to what the Scriptures alone, say about His ministry in the church). That was what living the Christian life was all about, in that church and in that denomination. It was all about you, your faith, your level of spirituality and what that Goodie God was going to give you if you just mustered up enough faith.

It wasn't until I began to study the Bible on my own time that I began to see a pattern of messages in Scripture that assured me just how much theology matters - and that also made it very clear that what was being taught in my own church, was pure, man-centered junk. I can't explain how much it hurt to see the Bible literally speaking against my own church.

I know that even expressing this, there will be some that write me off as someone who is pompous or taking theology too seriously. I know some folks that love the Lord with all their hearts, do take theology quite seriously, and are often mocked and ridiculed for that very thing. If being made fun of for being serious about God is what happens when you are, then I count myself in some pretty fantastic company.

I couldn't sleep last night, as these thoughts rumbled around in my head. Just before shutting down for the night last night, after clicking a link, then another link on that link, I saw a name being highly praised that was one of the highly praised names in the Goodie God church/denomination, and it just brought back all those old feelings of utter theological and doctrinal confusion, while I was in that church.

Over at Adrian Warnock's blog, he posted a link to Terry Virgo's blog where Terry was going on about what a blessing it was to recently have Mark Driscoll visit there. In that post he writes this:


"Once again God has blessed Newfrontiers by sending another of His choice servants our way. I constantly thank God for the friendships we have enjoyed over the years with such stars as CJ Mahaney, Kriengsak, John Wimber, Rambabu, John Piper, Wayne Grudem, Rob Rufus and others, all men of distinctive and diverse styles but whose devotion to Christ is primary and whose friendships I have treasured."
For me, the stand out name was John Wimber. In my old church, that name was spoken more than John the Baptist. My pastor loved him, and was heavily influenced by him and his association with the Third Wave Movement (very brief wikipedia here, which interestingly enough includes links to both Adrian Warnock and Mark Driscoll, and Adrian's understanding that while Driscoll does not specifically name the Third Wave position in a sermon series on the gifts, he is arguing for it all the same), and many others in the charismatic world.

Pastor John MacArthur on what this Third Wave is all about, and if you know nothing about it, I strongly recommend you read this full article - I think you'll see some rather significant parallels to what is currently being endorsed in many "reformed" and evangelical churches:


"So at its very core it is an element of the Charismatic movement. At its core is an obsession with sensational experiences, a preoccupation with the "Charismata" that is, tongues, healings, prophecies, words of knowledge, visions, and ecstatic experiences, and that is, of course, where we find the indisputable link between the Third Wave and the Charismatic and Pentecostal movements. In all three movements there is a major absorption with these supernatural, sensational kind of power encounters or power displays as they like to call them. They de-emphasize what you and I would know as the traditional means of spiritual growth: prayer, Bible study, the teaching of the Word, and the fellowship of other believers. They don't intend to do that and they wouldn't do that in statement or even in print. But because of the very surpassing emphasis on the sensational experiences, those matters tend to get pushed significantly, if not all together, into the background. Pentecostals, Charismatics, and Third Wavers, all will affirm that any Christian who is not experiencing some supernatural events, some supernatural giftedness, some kinds of healings, some kinds of prophecies, words of knowledge, or manifestations of the Spirit of God, in visible tangible ways, is really stuck at a low level of spiritual progress; is denying the full power of God and denying himself the blessing of God." (source)

In a preface to a chapter in a book criticizing Wimber's theology and doctrinal positions, Sandy Simpson at deceptioninthechurch.com says this:

"The problems are the same. What were then the birth pangs of renewed gnosticm and eastern mysticism in the Vineyard and other Penetecostal churches are now the key issues facing the entire church and the few true believers who are left with discernment." (source)


While I cannot vouch for or personally endorse every resource on that site, I can say that this statement nails it right on, and that this particular page is very educational into the doctrine and theology and the resources that shaped the belief system of the late John Wimber.

So, I found it striking that someone would classify men like Mahaney, Piper, Wimber, Grudem and others, as God's "choice servants" and "stars", in the same post that is going on and on and on about Mark Driscoll, also naming him as "choice servant" as well. I'd guess I'd put this into the category of exalting "Evangelebrities". Something that seems to be on the increase, as communication technology advances through blogging, podcasting, and youtubery. Key figures seem to emerge and become lifted up as "stars" among us.

What does this mean in the bigger picture? I have no idea, but I do have a feeling that a lot of those who call themselves "reformed" and "charismatic" at the same time might not be nearly as critical of my old church, as I am. I find that striking as well, and deeply disturbing. While none of this is new to me, it just seems to keep popping up all the time, and with more frequency. Also rather disturbing, is that it's becoming more and more embraced by those who call themselves reformed, or Calvinistic.

Proving once again, as James says so often: THEOLOGY MATTERS. Unfortunately, I don't think it matters to as many, in the same way, as it once did.


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Monday, July 21, 2008

Great Sale For You



WANTED: Informed, reliable advice from a certified gizmo geek on the pending purchase of 2 electronic devices - inquire within

How's that for an attention grabbing headline, eh? :-)

Okay, here's the scoop. There are 2 things I want, but because I'm seriously ignorant of the best deals out there on these sorts of things, I'm really really hoping my readers will pipe up with the best advice EVER, on both products.

Product #1: Combo vcr-dvd recorder. I have TONS of vhs tapes, and I want to convert them all (or most of them anyway) to dvd. I could take them in and have it done professionally, but that would cost a fortune to do them all. What I want then, is one unit that both plays vhs tapes AND records them onto blank dvds, at the same time. I know there are several brands out there but I don't know which one is the best deal, most reliable, easiest to use, etc.

Product #2: personal mp3 player. iPod-ish type product that doesn't have to have the iPod name, but does the same thing. I know absolutely nothing about the features of an mp3 player, but I know what I want. I want a wee little unit that I can download sermons, radio shows, webcasts, etc., and pop into my little player and listen to while I'm doing housework or yardwork.

For the mp3 player, I really don't want anything with bells and whistles, just something simple to use. For both products, I want as inexpensive as possible, but also as reliable as possible. I realize there are tons to choose from in both products from various brand names and various price ranges, so this is where the gizmo geek expertise comes in. If possible, I'd just like to eliminate the "oh man, I can't believe I didn't buy THIS one!" scenario that tends to happen so often when I make a purchase like this.

While I need good advice on both products, my first intended purchase is the dvd-vhs combo unit, so that's priority for me right now.

I look forward to your replies! Oh, and please do leave links if you have those handy as well.


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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Taking it Back

I don't do this very often, and in fact it's probably been only three or four times in the four years I've been blogging, that I've had to remove a post.

I mentioned recently that I've always been rather proficient at sticking my foot in my mouth, and this is not a joke. Over the years I've learned how to control that better, but it still happens from time to time, unfortunately. It was almost immediately after I posted the now deleted piece, that I read several things that made me go "uh-oh". I quickly realized/remembered that just about everything you put on the internet is a.) practically permanent (unless you take steps to remove it forever) and b.) could fall into the offensive category for someone.

On being offensive...

What I refer to here is not the kind of offense that non-Christians take over the gospel. That is offensive to them and it's supposed to be. When a man-centered worldview meets a God-centered worldview there will be a clash every time. So much for the idea that the gospel can be made culturally relevant. It isn't, it can't be, and it never will be as long as the culture is a man-centered one. What I refer to though is the kind of offense that takes place when one person is insensitive to others and makes a statement (even in jest) that could be easily taken the wrong way, and come across as an insult. Ouch.

This is one of those areas that has dogged me for years. I joke around a lot, and while I do not purposefully intend it to be insulting to anyone, it certainly can be and it feels horrible when I realize that someone actually was offended by something I was joking about. It's even worse when the insulted party was someone I care about a great deal. Double ouch.

I've heard for years that folks need to grow a thicker skin. Frankly, I don't have one and I've always wanted one for this reason. As much as I try not to be, I find myself often offended at an insensitive comment someone else has made and I have to remind myself that they most likely didn't say it with the intention of offending anyone. If in fact it was said with the intention of causing offense, then it's a matter of dealing with it from a different perspective (i.e., forgive them and let it go, rather than stew over it and let it bother me). I'm not so sure I believe that Christians need to grow thicker skins, as much as I believe Christians need to be far more compassionate and considerate of others without making the excuse "well they need to get over themselves" and refusing to own the offense they caused in the first place. In fact, if there were more of the latter going on, there'd be a far lesser need for the former.

This has been a rough week for me, for several reasons. Certain situations have come up that I just didn't handle well, and certain opportunities have come up for me to stick my foot in my mouth. I don't like feeling or acting like this, so I can only hope next week will be better.



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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Saturday Stuff

A few things in mind, none really worth their own post so this is a mish-mashy sorta deal today.

THE NEW PHONE BOOKS' HERE!

Did you ever seen the movie The Jerk with Steve Martin? If you did, you might remember the scene where he was working at the gas station and the new phone books arrived. He was so excited because he had his very first listed phone number! He quickly scanned the book to find his name and just beamed like crazy to see his name in print. What a doofus Navin was.

Something like that happened to me yesterday when I walked out to get the mail. I had a homeschooling magazine in the mailbox and realized that it was one that I was asked to submit an article for, for their "Mom Zone" column. I'd actually forgotten all about it until yesterday. I bring it back to the house and toss it on the table with all the other mail and go back later to flip through it and wow, there was my article in the very center of the magazine, with a big ole picture of the kids. I confess, I felt a little like Navin in The Jerk. I suppose regular subscribers to this magazine saw it weeks ago, since it's the May issue and there's a little sticker on the front that says 'replacement copy'. I do not have the most reliable mailman in the world. In any case, it was an honor to be asked to send in the piece, and I hope it serves as an encouragement to other HS moms who read it. I just hope no one starts shooting at me like they did Navin. That would be very bad.

COOL PERSON OF THE DAY AWARD GOES TO...

DocDoc... aka DrOakley, James, James White or Dr. James White (frankly I think he's been cloned and half of those people are the DNA offshoots of the real Doc). Not only is he gracious enough to allow me to exercise my artistic liberty with great gear to help financially support his ministry, but he is nice enough (he's not supposed to know I told anyone this, he's a Calvinist fer cryin' out loud, he can't possibly be NICE!) to link to it, AND to link to the shops I do for other folks (Mylo & Chris!) too, to give them a bit of exposure as well. Plus, he looks pretty sharp in that Apologist in the Hood, hoody. (No, that is not photoshopped, in case you were wondering).

HOT, CRABBY, EMOTIONAL, IRRITABLE, FOOLHEARTY AND EDGY

And that's just my good side. It's almost predictable how, if I post something like this about the kind of person I dearly long to be, that the Lord will see fit to try me and show me JUST how far short I really fall. Almost constantly for the last few days I've been on edge and quite prepared to fire off a snippy, sassy comment. I've said some things to kids and friends that I shouldn't have said the way I said them, but certainly didn't mean to say in a mean or unkind way. I've been quite proficient for years, in the fine art of sticking my foot in my mouth (I'm glad I moisturize), and the last few days have reminded me just how good at it I really am. Write this one off as a GACK-O-RAMA episode, and a measure of just how far I need to grow. It's very far, that much is certain.

MORE COOLNESS IN STORE

The weekly newsletter for the store is now online (or in your email box if you're one of my wow-562-wow subscribers!) but I'd like to draw your attention to one very new, and very cool thing in it, for those that neither get it via email or have seen it yet on the store site:

InfiniStitchInfiniStitch™ Embroidery is a patent pending process that allows for infinite thread colors and increased image resolution over traditional embroidery. InfiniStitch™ Embroidered products accurately reproduce photographs, gradients, and highly detailed images. As in traditional embroidery dyed thread is used to create a long lasting and permanent InfiniStitch™ Embroidered product.



I've added a limited number of new products in this category, which you can browse below. Be sure to also check out the new InfiniStitch Embroidery products in TeamApologian's brand new AOMIN.ORG section!

Denim Shirts - Mens Polo - Womens Polo - Mens Performance Jacket - Womens Performance Jacket - Military Cap - Stonewashed Cap




I'm undecided on how much work to really put into these new products, until I know if folks like them. It's a bit more complicate to create these designs than my usual work, so I don't want to invest time in it, if it's not something folks like! I do really love the womens performance jacket though, and the stonewashed caps.



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Friday, July 18, 2008

Whip Crackin' Update1

On June 17th I wrote about starting an exercise program. I decided that since it's been a month, I'd go ahead and update my progress. In a way, I really don't want to since that means I have to be transparent and tell my readers what a genuine wimp I am. On the other hand, however, being a public, transparent wimp is part of what is helping to keep me feeling accountable. I knew I was going to update this so I knew I had to have something to account for. Eeek!

So I started a workout plan the same day I posted last month. I picked M-F to do my workout and gave myself weekends off. In the last month I've only missed two days - one was because I mowed the lawn and was exhausted and the other was because I just got so busy with other things I completely forgot until I was falling asleep that night. Here's what I'm doing, along with how many I could do on day one (you'll laugh, it's funny) and how many I can do now:

Sit ups (day one: 7 - one month later: 15)
Leg ups (day one: 4 - one month later: 7 [these are really hard!])
Standing Side leg lifts (day one: 8 each side - one month later: 16 each side)
Standing Back lef lifts (day one: 8 each side - one month later: 24 each side)
Push ups (day one: 5 - one month later: 15)
Side bends: (day one: 12 - one month later: 24)

The hardest thing for me to do, are the leg lifts. Flat on your back, hands palms down and tucked slightly under the edge of your bottom, lifting your legs up slowly until your toes point to the ceiling. Please. All I can say is, after having 7 kids and never really trying to do these again since highschool (I used to do these in gym class, and I could do more than all the other girls), this is THE exercise that I clearly need the most, since it's the hardest one to do. "It burns us, it freeeeezes!"

As for actually losing any weight, I'm not even sure I care about that right now. I'm more concerned with toning and strengthening. With that said however, on day one I was 165 and as of yesterday I'm 163. So I did lose 2 pounds. Yay! I don't plan on weighing myself again until August 17th, so we'll see what happens between now and then.

I'd very much like to add swmming to my routine, for a twice weekly head-to-toe workout. Many moons ago I also used to swim laps and I loved it. When school starts in the fall I might check into a rotating swimming plan for the 2 weeks a month I'm off teaching and Kev's the teacher. I go into town and run errands at least twice a week while he's teaching, so I might as well just add an hour to my agenda and get some laps in too at the local indoor pool!

As soon as I can talk him into it, Kev's moving my stationary bike (yes, the coat rack) into the laundry room where I do my workout, and I'll be adding that to my routine as well.

I'll update again in a month, and hopefully have some even better news. Blogging this is actually kind of embarassing in a way, but that's probably the part that helps motivate me to actually do the work. Another reason I decided to blog it, is that in case there's someone reading who wants to get started on this as well, I hope I can be an encouragement to you. If this wimpy, anti-exercise mom can do it, so can you. :-)



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Thursday, July 17, 2008

God's Amazing Creatures

Yesterday morning while I was sitting here doing my morning thing, I heard the familiar "chit-chit-chit" sound out the side window. I turned to look and sure enough, both the male and the female hummingbirds were there, and she was giving him 'what-fer'. She tends to do that quite a bit. So I grabbed my camera and stood right at the window waiting for them to stop their fussing at each other so I could get a pic. Here's what I got:

click for the original, full size

Then last night, my mom sent me a link (click here) to a page that photo documents 3 weeks of two BABY hummers, from egg to flight. It's very cool, and if you've ever wondered how tiny the eggs and the babies are, you'll find this page very educational. (Click next page at the bottom of each page to see the succession of photos).

Enjoy! :-)



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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Oh Grow UP!

I'm pretty sure just about every kid in western culture has heard at least once in childhood "and what do you want to be when you grow up?" Maybe it was just a kind adult having a pleasant conversation with a child, or maybe it was a classroom assignment where you had to research and write a report about your desired occupation as an adult.

I never did very well with those - either questions in passing, or the written assignments. As a child, I thought like a child and wanted to continue thinking like a child, thank you very much. I didn't have any lofty aspirations of noble career choices, and even thinking about it was a bit too much for me. I wasn't like those kids that instantly piped up "ballerina!" "fireman!" "astronaut!" Please, no one really grows up to be an astronaut. Well, okay a few people do but realistically, just about no one I knew or you knew, ever grew up and flew to the moon, or anywhere else out there in space.

There was always the kid that was going to be a cowboy (snicker) and the girl that was going to be president (cough, cough) and there I sat, the girl that was going to... going to what? I'd come up with silly answers like "marry Barry Manilow!" (or Peter Frampton, it was a toss up) or "become Marlin Perkins' assistant on Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom!" Both about as believable as becoming an astronaut, I'm sure. I do however take my camera and run away fro home as often as possible, so there was some truth to that silly answer from a child. Neither Barry or Peter ever got back to me, so I ditched that plan early on.

Just for kicks, I asked my four youngest kids recently what they were going to be when they grow up, and the way they answered made me laugh. Jordan (almost 11) is going to be an artist (she'll be broke and living at home until she's 30), Rachel (9) is going to be a veterenarian (I think she's serious, too), Samuel (almost 8) is going to be a fireman (he'd make a fine fireman), and Ruth (5) is going to be Hannah Montana. Yes, she's serious too, and has a Hannah microphone to prove it. She can sing too, so who knows, maybe she'll do something with that voice she's got, other than to scream blue murder when things don't go her way? She's just 5, so we're all hoping she outgrows that real soon (today would be good).

As I puttered around the house yesterday doing grown up mom things, I wondered how I'd answer that question now. Quite a few things came to mind, so here they are:

Forgiving

I want to be that person that genuinely forgives over and over and over, no matter what the offense. To never ever take it personally or hold a grudge, but to offer a real "I forgive you" and always mean it.

Merciful

I want to be a person known for mercy to all she encounters. Kindness and acts of selflessness for no other reason or hidden agenda or hope of getting something in return, but just for the sake of being merciful.

Thankful

I want to be the person that always says and always has an attitude of thankfulness. For all that I have, all that I hope to have, and all that the Lord provides for me daily.

Hopeful

I'd like to be the person that always sees the glass half full, and never sees it half empty. That person that assesses a situation and always finds the good in it, or the potential for good in it.

Tenderhearted

I want to be that person that has compassion on everyone, all the time. Ignoring all the warts and all the faults and just seeing right to their need and doing anything and everything within my power and ability to meet that need or at least ease their need, in some way.

Peacemaker

I want to have enough wisdom that my own kids and anyone else for that matter, can come to me and seek counsel to resolve whatever conflict is going on their lives. Or, enough wisdom to offer such counsel even unsolicited and have it make a difference for God's glory and the edification of His saints.

Trustworthy

I want to be that person that someone can always come to in full confidence and assurance that what they share with me stays with me and the Lord. Not only that, but to be known for being that person that means yes when she says yes, and means no when she says no.

While this certainly isn't a comprehensive list, its the one that immediately came to mind. If, someday when I grow up I can be all those things, I'd sure be happy. Since I can't marry Peter Frampton or fly to the moon or be president (not that I'd want to anyway), this is the perfect list for me.


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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sometimes Life Just Hurts Real Bad

No one likes to be the bearer of sadness, and for that reason alone I wasn't going to blog about this. The more I didn't write about it (and tried to write about other things that all ended up deleted), the more I needed to, and the more I was reminded that it's a common link we all share - or that we all will share - in life. Death. Like the old cliche goes, no one gets out alive. With that said, this might not be the easiest post to read, and you may want to simply click away if you're in a place just now that such a topic is too much for you. I did share a small part of this burden with a friend tonight and actually said I wasn't going to blog this, but I feel I just have to write about it more. If that doesn't make sense to anyone but me, I'm okay with that.

I want to talk about it, but I don't want to talk about it. I want someone to remember with me, but I don't want to remind anyone. I want someone to cry with me, but I don't want anyone to be sad. I want what I don't want, and I don't want what I do want. How's that for confusing? Welcome to grief.

I want someone else to know that that was the day that everything changed, and on that day that I literally begged God to not let it happen. It was not His will to not let it happen, and I had to be at peace with that. I had to. I had to let my heart be torn into a million unfixable shattered, jagged pieces and say goodbye to a life I was never going to have, a husband I wasn't going to grow old with, and a marriage that was as perfect as it was imperfect. I had to. I had to walk through a blinding, suffocating black fog of pain and put into practice submission to the will of God in a way that I never really wanted to, but I had to. His will BE done, and that IS final. Our days are in His hand and beyond that no man can pass. We don't have to like it, we don't have to understand it, and we don't have to approve of it, but to find comfort in Him, we do have to bow to His authority in all matters of life and death, and truly mean it when we are face down in our own tears. His will, be done. I had only been a Christian for 15 months, and it was too soon for me to suffer with grace, I was just a baby. I'm sure I didn't suffer with grace, although I'm sure I did cry out to God repeatedly to give me strength to just take one more breath, and keep it together for my girls. What was brutally impossible for me, was very possible for God.

I want someone to know that when I came home that night, I stood still and listened to nothing. I stood and listened to deafening void. I tried to be still and know He is God, but all I really heard was the sound of my own crying. I want someone to know that picking up a framed picture, a hairbrush, a guitar, a microphone, a coffee mug or a jacket... and hugging it as tight as you can, is a perfectly normal thing to do, sometimes. I want someone to know that although it was 13 years ago, the pain is still there. Some pain, just doesn't go away, and will never go away. I want someone to know these things and yet I don't want anyone to know these things, ever. I don't want them to know it about me, nor do I ever want them to ever have to know them firsthand. Not anyone, not ever. Yet, we're all going to go through it, some of us more than once.

I want someone to know that breaking down into uncontrollable sobs that wrack you so hard you cannot function and it physically hurts your body, while doing dishes, or laundry, or cooking a meal, or shopping at the store, or driving, or doing nothing, is something that is also perfectly normal. I want someone to know that even in the deepest pain you will ever suffer, it is entirely possible to laugh at something funny, and then begin to cry all over again because you dared for 1 second to let yourself laugh. Also, very normal.

On July 14th, 1995 I drove my husband to the hospital for the last time. I checked him in, walked with him to his room, waited while he changed and got into bed, sat with him while they inserted the morphine drip, then held his hand as he fell into a desperately needed restful sleep. Much of it was rather mechanical, partly because I tend to go into auto-pilot in traumatic situations then completely lose it later on. The nurse assured me the dosage he was on was enough to keep him sleeping through the night, so I decided to go ahead and just go home. Home? I decided to go to my house. It no longer felt like 'home' and wouldn't, for a very long time. I slept with the light on that night, and woke up several times to check on him just like I'd been doing for the last 4+ years. I cried myself back to sleep every time, when I remembered where he was. That night began a four week waiting period, before the finality of the long battle with cancer, came to reality.

Fast forward the clock 13 years and what have I learned about grief? It hurts, and it hurts more than you can explain. Ripping, stinging, burning, piercing, searing... all of those are good words to describe pain, but even they don't come close to the pain you might feel in grieving. To all the well meaning folks I've ever known that have said "oh, that must have been so hard", yes it was. Yes it is, still. Grief is a process of peeling back layers of emotion, that sometimes you deal with one at a time, and other times you deal with several layers at once, and even years later, you still deal with it in various ways. As I folded laundry this evening it all came flooding back to me (literally, with fresh tears that apparently needed to come out) that grief is a process still, all these years later. You never "get over it" even though you "get on with it". It is impossible to love and lose, and then pretend you didn't, because both change you forever, no matter how brave you think you are, and no matter how your life changes after the loss.

I've also learned that folks grieve differently, and what may be normal for one, may never affect another. What is commonly known as trigger words (or situations, or people) may deeply affect one person in one way, and may have no affect on another person at all. It's all so varied, that it's important to remember that ultimately we all just need to be compassionate toward those that are in the grieving process and understand as much as we can, that they're going through something so very difficult to go through. Something else that I've learned, is that I still have a lot to learn, as it pertains to grieving. James White wrote a book on this very sensitive subject Grieving: Our Path Back to Peace, and it's right at the top of my "next to buy" list, because it's a topic that we all need to understand better, and I've heard from everyone who's read it, it's nothing short of excellent.

With that said, this time of year can be really hard for me. Some days are fine, others are not. For some reason, this year is harder than it has been the last few years, and from what I understand about grieving, that's normal too. I was hoping I'd be the exception to the rule and each passing year would just get a little easier. Maybe in another 13 years I can say that was the case, but not just yet.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Creative Therapy

I'm dealing with lots of hard things, so instead of much emoting in writing, I have been spending time creating. I've redesigned Wild Blue and added two more (maybe with more to come, as creating seems to be theraputic at times like this):

Wild Blue

Red Rider

Gold Dust


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Go Away, Nothing to See Here...

Someone once told me that one of the best things you can ever do for yourself, is to hang around with people much smarter than you. Pay attention to what they say, ask questions, and eventually you'll be much smarter than you, too. :-) It's really good advice. With that said, I have very little to offer here today (too much on my mind, not enough clarity for any of it to go into writing at this time), so I want to send you away where there is much to learn.

He'd be the first to say "pfft" to such a comment, but I'm genuinely honored to call Dr. James White my friend. He's brilliant, and his passion for teaching and seeing fellow believers understand, defend, and proclaim the faith is certainly contagious. I've learned so much from him over the years. I was first introduced to his work 10 years ago, and it's been a joy and a blessing to continue learning from him, and to get to know him as a friend, ever since.

With that in mind, I give you two links today to his first session on Scripture, at the John Bunyan Theology Conference at Grace Reformed Baptist Church in Houston. Each are just under an hour long, and both are well worth the time to sit under this brother's teaching. You will be blessed.

Session one: part 1, part 2




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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Party Over Here!

Barring a t-storm that rolled in just before the party started (and then left about an hour later), the Baby Ruth Turns Five Pool Party 2008, was a monumental success!

More pics from today's fun.


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Midsummer Saturday Miscellania

I've been super busy the last few days, so here's just a few things on my mind:

• This week's newsletter is online, with a couple of really great ways to save $$ and some fun new designs.

• Doppleganger Spotting? For as long as I can remember, I've had this weird habit of spotting ordinary folk, and pointing out/noticing which celebrity they look like. Sometimes it's pretty funny, and sometimes its almost eery. Yesterday while out running errands I spotted two Celeb Dopplegangers. The first one I saw twice, once coming out of a Payless Shoes with his purchase and then later in WalMart: John Piper. Who knew he shops in Woodstock Ontario? The second one was the "collect the shopping carts from the parking lot" man at the grocery store: Freddie Mercury. Heh, so that's where he's really been all these years!

• Baby Ruth the Butterfinger (aka my youngest kiddie) is having a pool party today. She turned 5 this week, and so today is party time!! Supposed to be a high of about 90 with t-storms to come later this afternoon, so let's hope the Lord keeps them at bay until after the pinata whacking! (Soggy pinatas are a great way to ruin any 5 year old's party).

• Words Matter. Yes indeed they do, and the more I think about it, the more I say it, the more I am deeply convicted by it. They matter when you're discipling children, teaching or preaching, writing a blog post or an email, expressing your joy or grief, and in just about every other context known to human expression. You know what though? Grace matters too, and sometime soon I'm going to dig around there and see about lining up grace with truth in how we (me, more than anyone else) actually go about doing that. I know I fail at it often, and Scripture is as clear as it can be that we're to be about both.

• New batteries rock. Well, the kind I bought do, anyway. My rechargables had been losing their "charge holding power" for a while now, so I bought Rayovac Hybrid Rechargables the other day. WOW, are these things incredibly powerful. I stood at my desk, zoomed across the room and out the window and across the yard, and shot a crystal clear image of a cardinal in the birch tree. Color me impressed.

• I haven't made Ruth's cake yet. I'm going to the kitchen now to do that (by request: devil's food cake with fudge frosting - she IS her mama's best girl!).

Have a great Saturday, and make it a memorable one, no matter what you're doing. I'll be posting LOTS of pictures later, I hope.


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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Notice: Joel Hemphill Googlers

I've noticed a few googlers showing up in the last couple days looking for "Joel Hemphill denies the deity of Christ" (or variations of that search string). I suppose you're ending up here, because I have brother James on my bloglist and his headline showed up here as well.

In any event, what you're looking for is at his blog:

Joel Hemphill Denies the Deity of Christ and the Trinity
07/08/2008 - James White


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Store Stuff: FREE Stuff!

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(Psst... free shipping offers are a great way to start Christmas shopping early... oh, and these are a hit every summer for family reunions. :-) )

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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Tears of Joy

mommy's baby at 14 months oldSee this angelic looking little girl? Well, she messaged me the other night with an urgent "mom, get off the phone I have to talk to you!" What's a mother's first thought when her daughter says that? Doom, despair, bad news, etc. Sure enough I expected horrible news, so I told her papa would get off the other computer right away so she could call. Immediately the phone rang, and it was her. She said "mom, guess what?" I braced myself for whatever it was she was about to say, and replied "what's going on?" She answered back (and if a person could ever speak in all caps, she did):

"ERIC ASKED ME TO MARRY HIM!!!!!"

I screamed, she screamed, it was a beautiful thing. Now here's the story as she told it to me:

Caryn and EricThey grabbed some dinner and went to the park. With her being completely clueless that THIS was the day, they just both ate their dinner and cleaned up. When she asked if he was ready to go, he said no, that they needed to talk. Then, he got down on one knee... and she screamed. :-) (She's very good at screaming, I've taught her well). When he finally got the words out, she screamed again. He asked if that was a yes (good boy, he's already learning to ASK!), she assured him indeed it was a yes, and then he presented her with his grandmother's ring. AWWWWWWWW!

I know there were more details than that (and maybe they'll BOTH be along shortly to fill in the rest) but as she was telling me I was also telling papa and the kids, who were also screaming (well, not Kevin, he only screams if a bug gets on him, but that's another blog post entirely). So, between all the screaming, what I know for certain is, we're gaining a son in law in about 14 months. We all really like Eric, and I'm happy to welcome him to our crazy, huge family. Oh, here's what else I know:

Two people who are clearly TOO small to get married!The wedding will be a very celtic affair, and her dress is insanely gorgeous. I don't know if it's against tradition to show it off so I wont post a pic unless she says I can. It will be a fall wedding (hopefully coinciding with the peak fall color change and a brilliant fall day) and the wedding colors (groomsmen & bridal party) will also be an autumn theme. Oh... and she's getting married, barefoot. She's such a hippie! She is her mother's daughter. :-)

If I think about it too much, I'm going to cry. Like I told her this morning, she's too little to get married, and so is he (I sent them both to their rooms, but I'm not sure if they went or not). Of course she's 25, but in this mommy's eyes, she's still my fluffy pink little girl. Okay, now I'm going to cry, so I'll end this here.

A great big happy sappy crybaby congratulations to Caryn and Eric, the couple who are too little to get married, but are doing it anyway.


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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Words ALWAYS Matter (UPDATED)

UPDATED BELOW

My friend Steve asked me this morning a most unusual question. "Have you read about the 'screams of the damned'"? For a split second, I thought about a webpage that was up many years ago, that had a .wav file (remember those?) of what was supposed to be the literal screams of the damned, in hell. I know, it sounds ludicrous, but it gets worse. The story was a Russian crew of oil riggers (or something like that, maybe they were Italian or from Arkansas, who knows?) had used this great big ole honkin' drill to bore a hole uber-deep for oil. For some unexplained reason, they dropped a mic down this zillion mile hole into the earth and what they heard sent chills (chills I tell ya!) down their spines. As the story went, it freaked them all out so much, that they decided to record it and share it online to freak everyone else out too. Deep within the hole, they claimed, you could hear on this recording what could not be explained by anything else, the literal screaming and moaning of the condemned in hell.

Yep, I heard the wav file, and yep, it was creepy. More than anything, it sounded like any run of the mill scary movie clip where crowds of people were screaming and moaning (or the sound you hear at any gas pump across town, these days). I'm sure if you looked, you could find the "screams from hell" wav somewhere if you really wanted to hear it.

As it turns out however, that's not what was being referred to at all. I suppose the only reason I thought of that, was because in all my years as a Christian, that was the one and only time I've ever heard that phrase. The way it was used today however (or at least in the post I was directed to today) was in the context of CJ Mahaney referring to Christ's words in Mark 15:34 as "the scream of the damned", found in this post at Justin Taylor's blog. I cannot say how many times I read this post, and that phrase, again and again to make sure I wasn't reading something into it, or misunderstanding what was being said. For me, words matter, and the words we use to communicate ANYTHING about our Lord, should demand us to be Biblically accurate.

So then, when our Lord cried out in a loud voice on the cross, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?", we can somehow translate this to mean a.) He was screaming? and b.) He was damned?

Honestly, I just don't get that. From all that I have read and all the sermons I have heard on the very moment God's wrath came down on our Lord, I have understood it to be a moment in human history of great anguish that cannot be compared to anything like it before, or since. I have never heard it described as a "scream". Screaming is what women do when a rodent scurries across the kitchen floor, or in some other context of sudden fear or intense pain, coupled with, a near 100% lack of self-control to keep their wits about them. I just cannot wrap my thoughts around the idea of Jesus screaming. He cried out with a loud voice is what the text says, and I guess I just assumed most Christians understood that to mean just that. While I don't want to get all nitpicky here, and while I suppose it could be translated to mean "scream", I've just never heard it referred to that way and the use of that word seems to be there for no other reason than to impart a more dramatic scene. Frankly, I think it was dramatic enough without using more theatrical type words, but that's just me.

The second part of the statement is what really threw me for a loop. Jesus was damned? I'm really glad someone else spoke up about this, while I was mulling this over all day, sort of wrestling with my own thoughts about the wording of this and why it refused to sit well with me. One of the commenters at JT's site said this:


"Please allow me to pose a question. Where in the Scriptures do we find the concept that Christ our Lord was Damned? To actually be damned one must have committed sin. 1 Peter 2:22 states that He did no sin. Jesus did not become a sinner, he bore our sin in substitution without becoming unrighteous in any way. Isaiah 53:4-5 says He bore our griefs,carried our sorrows, was wounded for our transgressions,bruised for our iniquities,and the chastisement of our peace was upon him, (our) is the key word here but at no time did he become a transgressor or commit iniquity. I fail to understand why The Word of God does not make you feel such wonder and awe. If Christ became damned then we have nothing to rejoice about, but if he stood perfectly sinless in my place that is something to rejoice about. Substitutionary death is not equal to the damnation unbelievers suffer, it is far superior because it is not due. His cry was not the cry of the damned but the perfectly obedient and sinless cry of the Son to His Father.If at any time He became a sinner He would have been unable to complete His work. Words have meaning and it is wise to stay within the framework of the meaning the Scriptures supply. Substitution not damnation." - Willow Walker

That said it perfectly for me too.

After considering this today, looking up some Greek words, and asking some questions of those a lot smarter than me, I know why this language bothers me. It bothers me because it gives me the impression that Biblical language is no longer enough for us to understand Biblical things. It bothers me because it seems as if, we have to use intensley dramatic language to convey the message, and once we do that we also run the risk of using the wrong language to make our point. The more I thought about the word 'scream' and the reason it bothered me, the more I had to keep looking closer at it. A scream conjurs up in the mind a completely different scenario than a "cried with a loud voice" does. I'm a woman, who's given birth 7 times. I know screams quite well, and I know sudden, uncontrolled outbursts of verbalized pain, quite well. Now while there is no way in the world I would ever compare anything I've gone through to what He suffered on the cross, the idea of my Lord on the cross screaming is just not what the text says, at all. So, why do any of us ever feel the need to soup it up and make it say something it doesn't actually say?

Beyond that, the idea that Jesus was damned, just takes this dramatic language to a place that it should have never gone. As the commenter at JT's so aptly stated, if Christ actually became damned, what in the world do we have to rejoice over?? Of course He was never damned, but for whatever reason, saying "the cry of the One who stood in my place" doesn't have that same powerful, Hollywood blockbuster impact, as "the scream of the damned". In fact, it wouldn't surprise me one bit to find out there have been at least a few low-budget horror flicks with just that title. It's very dramatic, isn't it?

I think we need to be very, very careful with how we impart to others, what the Scriptures actually say. While I have no issue at all with 'replacement' words (we all do that), even those words have to be carefully chosen so that we make certain we're still conveying the same message. I have to do this every day when I teach my kids in their Bible class, and it's no easy thing to explain big, complicated words rich in meaning, to young minds - but it can be done. It must be done, and it must be done Biblically so that they have a right view of God, a right view of sin, themselves, and what our Lord actually did on that cross, and why. I know for a fact if I said to my four youngest kids that Jesus vocalized the scream of the damned, they'd all think I'd lost my mind.

Yes, words matter. They always have, and they always will. Words chosen carefully, accurately, and biblically.
-------------

UPDATED:

Steve has now posted on this topic as well, and I would encourage you to go read what he has to say, here.

He asks:
"Words matter; especially when expounding God's Word. Some initial questions I have about this disturbing phrase are: is it biblical?; does the Scripture speak of the substitutionary death of Jesus for the elect as Christ being damned?; is this just cultural contextualization?; is it emotionalism run a muck?; is it sensationalized passion?; or shock the flock nomenclature designed to wake up tired ears? is this sound doctrine, theatrics, dramatics, blasphemy, or truth?"

Go read the whole thing, it's worth it.



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