Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sarah Palin - SuperMom?

Yesterday, someone asked "so, what do you think of McCain's choice for a woman VP?" I'm honestly not sure why anyone cares about what I think about a political topic, but since I was asked I'll go ahead and answer. You might be disappointed in what I have to say. You might have already had the same thoughts I'm about to express.

Sarah PalinIn no particular order of importance or relevance, here's what I think:

• She's very pretty
• I love her glasses
• She looks fabulous in red (we can't all pull that off)
• Her kids are adorable
• She's a wonderful public speaker

That's probably not what anyone cares about, I know. Truthfully, she simply strikes me as a wife and a mother who is not only having her cake and eating it too, but she probably grew the wheat for the flour, shot whatever wild animal dared walk in her wheat field, frosted the cake herself, served it with cute little mint sprigs and organized a cleaning crew to sweep up afterward. Then ate grizzly bear jerky later on, and never once messed up that gorgeous hair. And all that was on her day off, from running a state. (I need a nap just thinking about her busy life, and this lady is a year OLDER than me! To find out more about what she really does, go here)

Now then, down to the real issues. I'll be upfront here and admit that until this week the only thing I really knew about her was what Albert Mohler posted about her earlier this spring in this post right here. I read that and was instantly in admiration of her for that stand alone. In a culture where disposing of the precious unborn is as common as stopping off for fast food on the way home, Sarah Palin never even considered aborting her precious unborn son when she learned that he had Down Syndrome. From all the reports I've read, advances in medical technology that allow for this testing on unborn babies, have also burst open the door to a higher rate of abortions on this group of precious little ones. Some sources say as high as 90%. That's a truly staggering stat. For Sarah Palin and her husband, it wasn't even a consideration. Good for them!

Sometimes I wish I had more time to persue things that interest me such as politics (I know, for some people that's like saying "I wish I could have more root canals") but the truth is, I don't have that kind of time. Certain aspects of politics drive me completely nutty, but certain other aspects do interest me a great deal but I just don't have the time to invest there. I'm a busy mom myself, staying busy with the things that pertain to raising up my own adorable kids and for that reason alone, I'd never even heard of Sarah Palin until this year. I'm fairly certain she's never heard of me either. She's the Governor of Alaska, I'm a stay at home teacher/mom in Ontario, we don't exactly mingle in the same circles.

For a lot of people, the "real issues" as they pertain to Sarah Palin are her positions on key topics such as abortion, gay marriage, education or the environment. For others, other issues would be more important. For me, and probably for a lot of other Christian wives/moms, the standout issue is that she is a wife, is a mom, and is in a position of authority and leadership. I think I'm going to speak for a lot of us when I say "how does that really work, and is it Biblical that she has this role of leadership to begin with?" I think that's a legit question.

I'll be totally honest here and say I don't know, for sure, where I really stand on this or what I really think about it. I know that I've never read anything that strictly forbids (Biblically) women to have a leadership position in a secular/civic context, but I've also never really looked that closely at it. Now if she were in a pastoral role that would be a different ballgame, but that's not a role she has assumed so we wont even go there. She's a governor, which simply but not-so-simply means she runs a state. Every issue that affects the residents of the great state of Alaska, she has to know about & make informed decisions about. That's the condensed version, for a more detailed overview on what a state governor's role actually is, go here.

So then, if you've read all the info at the above links, you might be wondering yourself how a wife and mother of 5 (four still at home, one just a 4 month old baby) juggles those roles, in addition to what would be demanded of her as governor - let alone - what adding the VP role might mean. I have to say, I don't even know how it's possible, unless she's managed to squish another 18 hours into each of her days to do all the things she should be doing, in each role she has.

I realize this may not be a popular opinion, and I truly have no bone to pick with Sarah Palin (after everything I've read about her in the last week or so, I actually admire her for a lot of reasons), but I just can't balance this in my own way of thinking. I don't care who you are, you can have the most amazing multi-tasking skills on the planet, but you still only have so many hours per day, just like the rest of us, to fulfill your role (whatever that role is) in the course of that day. If you have multiple roles, such as wife, mom, employee, etc., you have to somehow find a way to strike a balance and juggle all those roles without allowing anything or anyone to suffer due to your other obligations. That is not an easy balance to find or maintain even for the most dedicated moms.

I read something yesterday that was rather critical of Palin for this, and while I sort of cringed at the way it was said, I understood that way of thinking because I am a mom too, and I get that it's an uber-demanding role in and of itself. Especially when there is a baby in the house. Having a baby in the house almost means you're ExtraMom, since that baby needs you constantly (minus nap time, which almost never seems to come often enough for a tired mom to recharge her own batteries). That little angel needs changed, bathed, fed, burped, walked, rocked, cuddled, sung to, admired, doted over... and then its nap time for 2 hours and then they need all of that all over again. Anyone can tend to baby's basic needs, but not anyone can be mommy to that baby. And that's just ONE child in the home. If there are older siblings they need mom too, in different ways, and at various times. From what I understand, caring for a DS baby requires even more of your time since they often have a range of health issues that non-DS babies don't have.

So I guess I said all that to say this: I don't know how she's doing it, how she does it, or how she will do it, should the McCain/Palin ticket go all the way. I realize that a woman in her position has a lot of help, but she's still a wife and mom and no amount of staff or personal assistance can be wife or mom for her, that's her role alone.

I suspect it is entirely possible that I've missed something important in this small observation. I'd really like to hear from others (men and women both) on what they think about this sort of role-juggling, especially is it pertains to the roles of Christian wives and mothers.



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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Gustav

A few days ago I posted a letter from my friend Pastor Eddie Exposito of Sovereign Grace Fellowship Slidell Louisiana, announcing the K3 Community Celebration events for this weekend. A lot of people undertook a lot of hard work to put these events together, but as of last evening all events have been cancelled, due to Hurricane Gustav.

Instead of celebrating the hard work of so many and hearing testimonies of God's grace and mercy over the last 3 years since Katrina, many folks there (including Eddie's family) will be evacuating today in preparation of the arrival of Gustav. I had a chance to chat briefly with Eddie last night and he commented "at least we'll be prepared to return and get to work!" Eddie is the founder of Sovereign Grace Homeland Missions, a community ministry that came to be as the result of Katrina, and a ministry that has changed the lives of so many people, for the glory of God.

As much as this feels for me, exactly like it did three years ago as I sat here and prayed, I can only imagine what it feels like for those who lived through it and lost so much. It's rather heartwrenching indeed, to know that these dear people will quite likely be going through all that, all over again.

Our prayers are most definitely with the folks down there.


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Friday, August 29, 2008

BREAKING NEWS: Prominant Christian Blogger/Teacher Publicly Shamed By Compromising Photos Appearing Online

BLOGOSPHERE, Internet — A noted evangelical blogger closed down his blog and resigned from his teaching positiong at his church, less than a week after photos published on an internet social networking site My FaceSpaceBook, appearing to show him wearing a dress with matching bonnet and wielding several different kinds of deadly weapons. Sources close to the popular blogger have confirmed that the images are not photoshopped but authentic.

Does that story look real to you? If you said no, then good for you becuase it's not. It most certainly could be though, as more and more people seem to have less and less discretion over what they a.) do in their private lives b.) be photographed doing and c.) have that pic posted online somewhere. Sometimes folks even post the pics themselves, which really makes you wonder if their brains didn't fall out along with all manner of common sense.

From cops to politicians, actors to musicians, teachers to pilots, students to housewives and yes even Christian folks, there have been more and more (and more!) news items in the last couple of years that focus on this very thing. Someone did something (and it could have even been all in good, innocent fun, but it's usually not), someone (or they did it themselves) took a picture of it and then posted it online. Brilliant idea. Truly brilliant, ranking right up there with performing your own brain transplant surgery. Bravo!

For those that post these pictures of themselves...

I guess I just don't understand the brazen, shamelessness that is part & parcel of society these days. I don't "resonate" with it, I'm not down wid dat, nor does it click with me. However you want to say it, whatever cool or uncool lingo you use, it's still foreign to my way of thinking. I realize that there are quite likely tons of people that really do want to see you in your jammie pants drinking a keg of beer through a big water bottle straw, but one should use one's reasoning skills and think "hmm, could this hurt me in some way, down the road?" It appears it most certainly can, as those who have lost their jobs, families and trustworthiness as a result of pulling such a bonehead stunt, would certainly tell you if they could.

For those that post pics of other people...

The basic golden rule of posting pics of OTHER people online should be (if it's not, I've never checked) is ASK them first. If they say no, don't post it. I'll be blunt here and say if you don't ask first, you're a bonehead for not asking, and if you do ask and they say no and you post it anyway, you're a triple-bonehead and monumental shame on you for being a rotten friend. It's called COMMON COURTESY and if you don't know what that is, you need help. It's really that simple. Now I'm referring to friends who have pics of friends sort of deal, not someone who's going to post a media pic of someone in the news.

I realize that most of us probably have LOTS of pictures of either ourselves or friends doing all kinds of silly things. For example, I have a picture in my possession of a well known person doing something very funny but that picture is between friends and would never in a million years see the light of My FaceSpace Book, or any other online site - or offline publication either. (and no, I wont tell anyone who it is or what they're doing, so dont ask, lol) I have pictures of myself also, posing in some of the most ridiculous poses (usually taken when I wasn't looking but just being a doofus, but some were intentional because I am a doofus) that I would also never post online. There is just no reason to post those online. Those who know me, know what I look like and act like in person and those pics wouldn't phase them in the least. They'd all say "yeah, that's Carla, so what?" or something. But those that don't know me might not find them nearly as innocent looking. They could, given the right set of circumstances, come back to haunt me later in life, or even damage my testimony for Christ in the eyes of someone. So... there's just no reason to share those silly things online.

I actually did have a series of pics posted once (now removed), when a friend (who I first met online) came to visit several years ago and we did a mock scary movie scene. Since we all know everyone on the internet (including me) is an axe murderer, we did a series of shots chasing each other with an axe. We were both laughing so hard it was nearly impossible to do the scene. Sadly, on more than one occaision there have been a couple of people that wanted to use those pictures for no good, so I removed them.

I thought about all this after a few things happened over the last couple of days. One friend had some pics posted without his permission. A news bit I saw on tv showed a girl at a party (innocent enough, right?) when she should have been somewhere else. The photographic evidence actually got her into some serious legal trouble. Then just today I read about college president photographed in a rather scandelous shot on a boat, complete with beer and bikini clad young women.

For whatever reason going, there's this thing going on in our culture that says "plaster yourself online for all to see!" Young teenage (and younger) girls all strike the same phoney pose that says "I'm pouty, yet mysterious and adventuresome, you really want to get to know me" and many young men flash that "oh I'm so angry at life I can't stand myself" expression. It's all so fake, and yet you know exactly what I mean because you've seen those profile pics - they're EVERYWHERE. What's more, is folks aren't stopping with the fake profile pics. Doing all sorts of things they shouldn't be doing in the first place, from underage drinking to drugs and more, they digitally preserve the moment and show it off to the world.

Back in the day (whenever that was) most people didn't have such easy access to cameras. Today, they're so cheap I wouldn't be surprised if they were toys in cereal boxes or cracker jack prizes. Just about everyone has one, and the thing to do seems to be to take pics of yourself in every pose under the sun for all to see. Its all so sickeningly narcissistic, but it's one of the most common trends online. I suppose its just another symptom in the downward spiral of this culture's obsession with self. Gack.

Rant over. I feel so much better now.



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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Back to School FUN

Since school is on my mind, I'm going to write a little more about that now. If school is boring for you, you might want to click away to some place cooler, like here. Now then, back to school.

I've decided over the summer that we're going to add a few new things to our weekly routine. In no particular order:

- A study of the Six Nations (Iriquois) people. We live less than an hour away from the reservation, and today when I asked Kev (a Canadian, who's lived here his whole life, hello?) which 6 tribes they are, he didn't even guess one of them correctly. Even I knew some of them, and I've only been here for 10 years. Shame on Kevin the Canadian! (For the record, they are Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Mohawk and Tuscarora). I grew up and lived in Kitsap County, WA until I was 33, and coming from there you just can't get away from native American history and culture. Our county was named after Chief Kitsap of the Suquamish tribe, and in the north part of the county is the Port Madison reservation. A lot of names in Washington are native American names (such as Puyallup, Tacoma, Spokane, Yakima, Seattle and Walla Walla) and you learn about these things growing up in and around them. (Bonus points to the first commenter who doesn't cheat, but replies with the correct pronunciation of Puyallup - and - who isn't FROM WA state) :-)

Anyway, I thought it would be a really good thing for the kids to know a little more about the native Canadian people that are our neighbors. So, we're going to study their names, languages, religions, myths (which are amazingly close to the Biblical account of creation, so this will be a great study), leaders, economy and have lots of fun projects to go along with it. At the end of the study (which I haven't actually planned out yet, it's all still in my head) we're going to take a trip down there and spend the day on the reservation so they can see how these folks live today. I was there last weekend and it's absolutely beautiful country. It'll be a blast. (If anyone reading is a whiz with Canadian and/or Iriquois history, please feel free to contact me, I'd love to hear your insight on this subject).

- We're also going to be doing a new Current Events subject. I remember doing this in the 4th or 5th grade and I actually enjoyed it quite a bit. The way our current events will work is pretty simple. Between Monday and Wednesday they will each scan the headlines of the newspaper and pick the article that is of most interest to them. After reading the article they will write a short report on it, and in their own words tell the "class" what it's about and what was so interesting about it. Depending on the subject matter, it could prove to be a very good discussion opportunity.

The report will be due on Friday and they will read it outloud for the class. This subject will not only get them into the habit of looking at the headlines to see what's going on in the world (and our own backyard) but it will give them a lot more to think about and consider outside of their very small worlds. It will cover reading comprehension, writing skills, speaking and critical thought/discussion. I'm really looking forward to this, and I hope they end up liking this subject as much as I did when I was a kid.

- I haven't decided which days yet (depends on open/family time at the pool) but we're also adding swimming and public library day. Library day will be every other week, and swimming will be twice weekly, as soon as I can remember what I did with the pool schedule :-) They check books out at the church library all the time, so they know how to do that and they enjoy it very much. I want them to also use the public library, even though much more discernment skill will be required there. There are a million and one things to discover in books, and since they all love to read, I want that door open for them to explore.

The swimming is mainly for fun, but also for a great way to get some good exercise, especially on those miserably cold winter days when playing outside is simply impossible. I'm going swimming with them too, so yay for me! I'm really looking forward to these new items added to our school week. It will make for longer and a little more hectic school days, but that's okay too.



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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

K3 - A Community Celebration - An Invitation from Slidell/New Orleans

From my friend, Pastor Eddie Exposito:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As many of you know we've been extremely active in the New Orleans area
ever since Katrina hit our community and have established a permanent
urban missions ministry called Sovereign Grace Homeland Missions. We
are about to come upon the 3rd year anniversary of the disaster and we
want to invite everyone to visit us and join in the celebration of the
good things that the Lord has provided.

K3 - A Community Celebration will be held this Labor Day weekend on
Friday, Saturday, and Sunday August 29, 30, and 31st at our church in
Slidell, LA. (You can find more details here or by
visiting our church website )

We will be having many community speakers, citizen testimonials, food,
kids activities, music by Steve Camp, as well as a 2 hour Sunday service
that will include preaching from Pastors Don Elbourne (Lakeshore, MS),
Justin Erickson (Grace Chapel, OH), and myself. We are also baptizing
four believers!

We are humbled and excited by what the Lord has done through the Body
and since many on this list have been a part of our work and the other
relief organizations in our region, as well as financial supporters and
co-laborers in prayer, we cordially invite you to attend our festivities.

In His redemptive plan of glory,

Eddie Exposito
Pastor, Sovereign Grace Fellowship of Slidell

Church: www.SGFellowship.org
Urban Missions: www.SGHM.org
Pastoral Blog: www.HardBakedDirt.com



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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A bit of a homeschooling mom snivel, rant, and general whinefest.

So the countdown is on. Every night before I turn in I erase the number in the top, right hand corner of the chalkboard and replace it with a new number. This morning it says 5. That is, five more days of official summer vacation before another school year begins. Part of me is looking forward to it, part of me isn't.

The part I'm looking forward to is another year of seeing the kids learn new ideas, new concepts, and just be mentally and intellectually stretched beyond where they are now. Learning and growing is a really great thing - and as a side bonus - I get to learn along with them. There is never a school year that goes by that I didn't learn something too.

The part I'm not looking forward to is the fact that for the next 9 months, my house will look like a cyclone ripped through here. I honestly don't know how other homeschooling moms do it, unless they get up at 4am every day to do housework. I'm not about to get up at 4am, so for 9 months my laundry will pile up, they messy-factor will be in full play, and Saturday mornings will be set aside for "okay kids, it's time to whip this place back into shape".

This is the one monumental practical difference that stands out to me, between public schooling and homeschooling. I remember when the older girls went to public school, I looked forward to them going back every fall for the simple reason that my schedule went back into play and by 9 am every day the housework was done, and the entire house was neat and tidy. I like neat and tidy, okay? I cannot focus in a mess, it's too distracting. Yes, I am in fact Felix Unger, stuck in a world of Oscar Madisons.

Homeschooling, is exactly the opposite in that when they go back to school I never have enough time or energy in the day to get the house neat and tidy, because I'm teaching. I do get a bit of a break though. Kev's schedule being the nutty, rotating shift that it is, means every 4 weeks he goes on afternoons for 2 weeks, and when he's on afternoons HE is the teacher and I'm the mom again. For those 2 weeks when I'm the mom and not the teacher, I get to tackle those things that go untouched while I'm teacher.

I think for this school year I'm going to print off a calendar that marks my 2 week breaks and plan my projects around that. Maybe this way it will feel like I'm at least making some progress in the messy factor, and maybe even get it under control! Yes, I think it might be possible to tame the domestic mess-beast.

Five more days... whine. I'll miss summer.


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Monday, August 25, 2008

Store Stuff: Psalms of Trust

I've recently finished the 2009 Reflections Wall Calendar, and I wanted to share that with my readers here. I've also added to the calendar section, 11x17 posters of the same images contained in the calender. This year, it's a year of "trust" in the Psalms. Each verse is a verse about trusting God, to encourage you, inspire you, and refresh you every time you look at the caldendar. With these calendars and posters, I have found that it's a beautiful way to work on memory verses for the year, and hide God's word in your heart.

All of the photography is my own, and each picture is filtered through a photoshop filter to give it a softer, watercolor look (it's a little hard to tell from a distance but closer viewing will show the fine brush strokes). Below are a few sample pics of whats on the 2009 calendar - and posters as well. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed taking the pics and putting this all together.











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Blogging Detail 101

Matt Gumm wrote a rather intriguing piece the other day about how he approaches the mechanics of blogging. Since I'm a blogger too, it always interests me how/why other bloggers do what they do and I really enjoyed reading his post (sorry I didn't comment Matt, I'm pretty bad about leaving comments).

Then Matt wrote another post desiring to gain perspective from how other bloggers do what they do. Here's the outline:

1) What blogging tools do you use?
2) How do you post?
3) How do you get your ideas?
4) Who is your target audience?
5) What do you hope to say or accomplish with your blog?

He did say "give me details" so here are mine (as boring as they might be to anyone else).

Blogging Tools

As far as text editors go, I actually use ms notepad (using it right this second, in fact) to compose my thoughts first. For example, right below this line of text is a single line of text that details a topic I really want to write about but haven't had the time yet. It's been sitting there for about a week, and may even sit there much longer, or end up deleted and forgotten. Having a busy life doesn't always translate well to writing about all the things I'd love to write about.

I will often compose an entire post in this notepad file complete with the coding required to make words either italics or bold or hyperlinked. I've been writing html code for so long that it's often easier for me to type it out, rather than go back through the post and edit it the way I wanted it to look, with key emphasis, links, etc. I almost never compose a post in the blogger wysiwyg editor, but once in a while I will, if it's a shorty.

How Do I Post?

I think I pretty much just answered that above, but did leave out the fact that there are some posts in drafts for days before they ever see the light of day. The more important the subject matter, the longer it stays in draft. For me, it's important to make sure I'm as thorough as I know how to be, and that takes more time for me than it might take for someone else. Additionally, once I finish a post and 'save to draft', I can come back later and proofread it again to make sure it's worded well, and all of that good written communication business. Quite often, a few hours spent doing laundry, dishes, mopping the floor, mowing the lawn or cleaning the pool will give one a fresh perspective or additional thoughts that can make a post even more accurate, so I prefer to let it stew until it's just right.

Blog Post Ideas

That one is easy: life. If I post about a wild dream it's because I just had one and that's what is on my mind. Other blog posts might come from a chat with a friend, something I read in the news, an attitude or interaction I might observe while out running errands, or a verse or passage that stands out to me that day. I might read something on someone else's blog and it feels incomplete to me somehow, or like it wasn't addressed from a wife/mom/female perspective, and so I'll take it on that way. I might hear a rather non-spiritual comment and the spiritual parallel is so obvious to me I wonder why everyone didn't get it. Simply put, a blog post just might come from anywhere; including nice folks (sometimes even not so nice folks) who email me and say "what are your thoughts on this, I'd like to see you blog about that". Believe it or not, people actually email me with the assumption that my opinion or perspective on certain topics will be worth reading. I always feel very small when I get those emails, too. Afterall, I'm a nobody and still growing in grace and learning how not to stick my big ole sasquatch foot in my mouth, just like everyone else.

Target Audience

"I don't write for you, I write for me". Have you ever read anyone say that? I have, and it always comes off as rather selfish sounding, even it that's not the intent. I can understanding "writing for me" only in the sense that writing is just one of those things I do and have always done, and would still write even if no one read what I wrote. When I first started blogging, I didn't give that as much refined thought as I have over the last few years. When I first started blogging, almost no one read my blog and it didn't really bother me one way or the other because I wasn't really writing for anyone as much as I was writing because its what I do; in the same sense I could say I would still take pictures even if no one ever saw them.

Before blogging I wrote on forums, and before forums I'd write long articles for my website. Who did I want to read reach with those forum posts and web articles? Anyone who needed encouragement. Anyone who needed a poking and a prodding to not be a spiritual lazy-bones, to be a Berean, and to take their Christian life as serious as it truly is. At the time, I didn't even know "easy believism" was a phrase anyone used, but I knew that at one time I was like that and when things changed I felt compelled to speak up to other believers about it and be an encouragement to them in that area. If ever I had a 'target audience' in those days of writing, that was it.

While that still remains a motivation for me, it's much more refined now. I want to reach other regular moms like me. Moms who struggle with spiritual things like I do, moms who homeschool and sometimes feel like pulling their hair out (yeah, we stress out too), moms who's hearts are broken because their kids have chosen to rebel, and moms who like to laugh at life the way I do. I also like to write for other women who love deep doctrinal pieces and love to read about theological issues even more than they love their chocolate (or chips, or whatever). I connect with other women who love theology as much as I do, and I know they connect with me as well. Its a special thing and I enjoy it very much. Once in a while a brother might come along and benefit from something I've said, so the general disclaimer remains that in no way do I assume myself to be a teacher of spiritual things to men, and if they learn anything from me it's all their fault! :-) (I will also pepper the blog with cat pictures, recipes and sewing projects, which throws the men off guard and they soon realize I shouldn't be taken too seriously as a reformed woman blogger.)

Goal in Blogging

I think for me there are several. I mentioned above that it's about encouragement, but it doesn't stop there. When I first started blogging there was a young man I knew online who'd just become a father. Parenthood being a brand new experience to this very skilled computer geek, he commented that blogging would be a fantastic way to leave an electronic footprint for his son. Its not that we don't have in-depth conversations with our children about everything under the sun already, but blogging to me seems like a great way for our kids to one day open that creaky, old steamer trunk and pull out those dusty old journals to revisit someone they already knew. Maybe they'll laugh, maybe they'll reconsider something they thought they knew, maybe they'll share the stories and the convictions with their children. I know that some bloggers back up their blogs regularly and save the files for printing (not a bad idea, really), and some bloggers have even quite successfully turned their blogs into a book (also a great idea if you do it right). Whichever way you look at it, blogging is a way to share your heart with whoever happens along - friends, family or complete strangers. While I am a wife, mom, sister, daughter and friend, I am also a Christian so the sharing of my heart I hope will most often be colored with the love of serving our Lord Jesus Christ.

So then, for whatever its worth to Matt or anyone else, those are some of the details for this blogger.



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Sunday, August 24, 2008

For THOU Hast Lifted Me Up

I will extol thee, O LORD; for thou hast lifted me up, and hast not made my foes to rejoice over me. Psalm 30:1

Do you remember when you were little and couldn't reach the cupboard door to open it? Do you remember when you'd ask your mom or dad to lift you up? Do you remember that feeling of complete trust and assurance that if you did ask, they would lift you up?

It's little things like that, that I often equate to 'faith like a child'. If we could all somehow get rid of all the grown up junk that saturates our minds for a moment and recapture a slice of that memory when we were too small to reach, that feeling of being in need and having that one person you could look to for trust, I think we might get a better idea of what it means to be lifted by the Lord.
Maybe we already know, but maybe sometimes we forget to simply trust like a child and know that He is ever-faithful? Maybe today is a good day to take a few minutes and recall what that kind of faith is like?



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Friday, August 22, 2008

Corncob Ear Man

Dreams are just weird.

I don't know why, but my whole life I've had outrageous, detail-rich dreams. Its been many years now since the last one, but I used to have a reocurring dream as well. Same street, same wrought iron fence around the property, same horrifying house, same hill, same city, same people, same overwhelming sense of fear - every single time. I'm not one of those people that can control her dreams, or even knows somehow in her dream, that it is a dream. I've heard people talk about being able to control them or change them, or tell themselves "it's just a dream" while having the dream, but I am not one of those people.

Some of the dreams are so funny I've woken myself up by hearing myself laughing. Others are so disturbing I've woken myself up by the sound of my own sobbing, and yet others are so incredibly cool it's been like watching a movie, as I sleep.

Oddly enough, exactly three years ago today I posted a dream just like that. when I sat down here to write about the dream I had today, I thought about Corncob Ear Man, so I decided to pull it up from the Reflections archives. I had no idea I posted that on August 22, 2005, but there was the date. So, instead of what I was going to write, I've decided to repost that for your enjoyment.
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In the early 1800's, a very old doctor was hard at work in his smalltown office/lab. He busied himself with his life's passion at every free moment he had. This doctor was nearing the end of his very long life (he was almost 100 years old), and the prospect of dying before finally acheiving his life's goal only served to motivate him more, each day.

His life's work? To create a super-human race. Men and women with superior intellect, intuition, discernment and compassion. Physical characteristics weren't a big concern of his, but the mental and intellectual powers were his focus. He'd read the Bible stories, and heard countless sermons on the depravity of man, and believed if he could simply isolate the cells in the human body that were fallen from creation, and then remove them, the result would be pristine-state people, similar to Adam, before the fall.

After decades and decades of failed experiments with human cells, and babies born with deformities too gruesome to mention, the old doctor's last experiment turned out to be his crowning glory. In his eyes, anyway.

Through a complicated series of tests, and failures, experiments and alterations, he managed to isolate what he believed to be, and soon termed, The Depravity Core, in the human DNA. Of course he had no idea what DNA was, at the time. In many ways, he was very much ahead of his time - in other ways - shades of the old world of Babel Tower builders could have defined this man's motivation.

After completing a very guarded very secretive process of selecting a young couple to participate in this experiment, the old doctor took very ill. Nine months slowly passed and his life's work developed in the womb of the young country wife. To this day, the actual process of how he managed to get his isolated-cell experiment in the sanctity of the womb of this woman, is a mystery. To be frank, the child did bear a striking resemblance to both his mother, and his natural father.

The old doctor knew that this was his last experiment. His 100th birthday was quickly approaching, and his failing health, had finally gripped his body in ways he'd not dealt with before now. He was bedridden, and almost completely blinded by the time the baby was born.

The day arrived and the child came into this world. Rumor has it, the mother felt no pain at all. Rumor has it as well, the child never cried but made a cooing sound, and seemed to smile. The young couple brought the newborn baby to the doctor's office, to show him off. While the old doctor couldn't see any more, he was able to hold the baby and take great comfort in hearing the report that the baby was strong, and healthy. He was as pleased with his work as he could have been - even not knowing if the cell-isolation experiment had actually worked.

He would never live to find out. Only days later, in the late hours of the day on his 100th birthday, the old doctor fell asleep and never woke again.

The young couple raised up their boy (his name was never recorded in any public documents), and all through his childhood, they believed the old doctor's experiment worked better than they could have expected. The boy never cried, even when hurt. He reasoned things out, and was a quick thinker in ways to solve problems. He was tender and sensitive to others and all in all, was just a very good child. By the time the boy reached about 17 years old he was quite handsome, well known in his small town for his intellect and tenderness, and considered quite a catch.

He also quickly became known for something else. The closely guarded secret of his conception, was not a secret at all, in this town. It was never spoken of publicly, but almost everyone knew how this child came to be. Pride, and vanity and jealousy consumed the parents in this small town, and soon the idea to marry their daughters to this young man, and have grandchildren just like him, became an obession with countless families.

The obession of the parents infected the daughters, and quickly the obsession turned to abandon of all morality and logic and before long, numerous young girls were whisked away to closed quarters of their homes, as their bellies grew with the consequences of their actions. Vanity, lust and pride had overtaken them, and they now suffered greatly.

They had no idea how much more they would suffer before it was all over.

The young man turned 18, and almost to the minute of his birth, on his 18th birthday, his bones and joints began to ache, and throb. A simple annoyance at first, but as the hours turned to days, the pain became all encompassing, and it affected him from the joints in his feet, to the muscles and tendons in his face.

The old doctor’s experiment was working just as planned – even though it was not his plan. In his effort to isolate the Depravity Core, he removed a crucial cell that regulated physical growth. He was ignorant of this, and the results would now be seen, long after his death.

The young man began to change, and change very quickly. His bones were growing, his joints were expanding, and his entire stature was changing day by day. The growth hormone in his body was pumping at 100 times the speed of it’s normal capacity, and there was absolutely nothing anyone could do to stop it. His skin, oddly enough, didn’t stretch as quickly as it needed to, to accommodate his bones and muscles, and ripped, and tore, and left horrible wounds that had to be tended to hourly, to keep infection from setting in. Like the countless young girls all through the town who were now hidden away in shame by their parents, the young man was also kept in a back bedroom, tended only by his parents during his transformation. During the 9 months all of his children developed, he did too.

In a small town known for not keeping secrets very well, this time it was much different. No one in the town knew any of this was happening. Those parents that did not fall into the vanity-trap for their daughters, were kept completely out of the loop, about what happened to those girls. Stories vary, but some say there were as many as 50 young girls that year, that just suddenly vanished from this town. A story was invented about the girls – that their families sent them away together to a larger city, to work together in a new factory. It seemed believable, for a time.

Likewise, they didn’t know what happened to the young man. Some said he moved away to find work and put his roots down in another town. Others said he traveled across the ocean to visit far away lands. It didn’t seem to matter, no one took his sudden disappearance very seriously, and as the months rolled by people eventually stopped talking about him and the missing girls. Life in the small town went back to normal. For a time.

In the back bedroom of his parents home, the young man no longer resembled his former self. His father had to build a special bed, to hold up his weight, and accomodate his massive size. He was no longer the handsome young man, he had been just 9 months ago. He was no longer recognizable at all. His face was misshapen, as his jaw on the left protruded much farther than his jaw on the right. His eye sockets were sunken and his ears were as large as corn cobs. His arms and legs were both hideously misshapen as well. The joints in all, were larger than they should be, and bulged under the quilts his mother had sewn together to make a blanket large enough to cover him.

For the first time in his life, he cried. For the first time, he also complained, and got angry. He didn’t understand what was happening to him, and his heart ached to know, and to have someone fix it. His parents were silent. The thought of confessing to him what they had done horrified them, and so they never told him.

Near the end of the 9 months, his growth had begun to slow down. The pain was a little more tolerable each day, and he was able to sleep finally, without strong medication. The morning of the 9th month, he awoke without any pain at all. It was the first time he had smiled, in a very long time. His smile was hideous, baring gums with missing teeth, and too large for his lips to cover completely. In his heart however, he was grateful and happy, that his pain was gone.

That day was also the birthday of the first of his children, although he did not know it. What he also did not know was that the mother of the first of his children, had suffered right along with him, during those 9 months. She was not carrying a single child, but triplets, and all of them were growing at the same rate of speed their father was.

She longed for death, and even tried a few times to end her own life, during this time, but death would not come and would not be the release for her that she hoped. Like the father of her children, she also had to be heavily medicated through the pain to bring her some relief, and silence her screams of agony. No one really knows for sure, but most believe it was the combination of pain, and the sight of her children upon the day of their birth, that caused her madness. She never spoke again, after that day. She rarely even moved. She sat, and stared into space, as if looking for a way out. She never smiled, never cried. She had to be fed, dressed, and bathed by her own mother.

This was not only her life after the birth of her children, but mirrored identically the lives of all the other young girls, immediately following the day of the birth of their children as well. None of them had a single birth. All of them bore twins, or triplets, and several cases of quadruplets. Yet another error in the cell isolation experiment, that the old doctor couldn’t have known he made. All of the young man’s children, were multiple births. Some have said, as many as 200 children were born that year, in that small town. In dark rooms, under heavy secrecy and accompanied by shrill screams of horror mixed with pain.

Aside from being grotesquely deformed and hideous to behold, these were all normal babies. Mentally and emotionally, quite normal. They cried when hungry or wet, and their grandmothers bore the burden of taking care of them, as their mothers had all gone mad, and were now sitting silently in their rooms. The very same women who were once consumed with vanity, were now consumed with the burden of caring for what many would come to be known as the little monsters.

It wasn’t long before the secret was no longer a secret. Stories swirled around the town like a dark storm cloud, and eventually some townspeople were knocking on doors to search for the truth. Some families, in a false sense of relief, were even eager to let the people in to see the children. As the toddlers sat and played on the floor with each other, they appeared at first glance, to be perfectly normal. Until they stood, and smiled that grotesque smile, that horrified those unprepared to see it. The very fact that as toddlers they were almost as tall as full grown men, was just another reason to send more than a few visitors running from their homes.

It wasn’t long before the families in this town, with “normal” children, packed up and moved away. Every last one of them left. The only families that remained, were the grandparents taking care of their mad daughters and deformed grandchildren, and the parents of the once-strikingly handsome, intelligent young man.

It wasn’t too long after the other families fled, that the town received a flood of new visitors. Refugees from the town began to talk where they’d settled, and eventually the newspapers in those cities began to catch wind of this story. The curiousity seekers made their way to the town, to see “the monster children” and their “monster daddy”. Numerous candid pictures were taken, and appeared in larger city newspapers. Almost no one believed the pictures were real. Almost everyone wrote off the stories as some fantastical imagination of a young reporter. But it was good for newspaper sales, for a while.

One of the young reporters did invent quite a few details, and wrote a piece about the old doctor, claiming to have seen his experiment notes, where he called the future child of his work, “The Son of The Son” referring to Jesus, the Son of God. While the old doctor was indeed mad, in his own right, he never did call the child that, it was just an invention of the reporter, to stir even more controversy. It did work in a way and the young man who was the father to all these deformed children, became known for a while in the big city media as “The Monster Son”.

As the years passed, the media attention faded, and the children grew up together in this small town. Simply because they appeared “normal” to one another, and were perfectly normal and healthy in every other aspect, they all got along as well as any other children do. They played together, schooled together, and worked together. They knew no other life, and they were as happy and as content as children can be.

An odd thing happened though, as the first set of children, the triplets, approached their 18th birthday. They began to suffer increasing pain in their joints, and muscles. As the days wore on, it was the same identical set of symptoms their father had told them about, as he approached his own 18th birthday, so many years ago. They were stricken with fear, and sorrow, expecting the worst to come, as they understood by social standards they were already as ugly and deformed as possible. The idea of getting worse, plunged their hearts into great sadness.

But that isn’t what happened. Instead of growing larger, and more deformed, they actually began to shrink. Bones, tendons, joints, muscles, organs – everything about their physical makeup, began to shrink at the same rate of speed. The pain was unbearable, and like their father before them, they were reduced to being bound to their beds, heavily medicated by their parents, as they suffered through this transformation. Thankfully, it did not last 9 months like their father’s had. In less than a month’s time, it was over. Like their father before them, but in the very opposite extreme, they looked like any other young, 18 year old men. There was nothing whatsoever unusual looking about them, aside from their striking handsomeness.

Needless to say, they were shocked, relieved, and just a little nervous about what all this meant. Their own half-brothers and half-sisters had also begun to go through this as well, and as word got out among them, of what was to come, it was almost a welcome transformation even though dreaded for the pain it would cause.

Some were more than confused. The way they looked, was normal to them. They really didn’t see any reason to want to be any different, since they all shared the same deformities and stature. Suddenly now, some of their siblings were “normal” which to them, was the oddity. The real issue was however, they knew there was nothing they could do about it. The genes they carried that would bring about this change, were the genes of their father, altered long ago, by a mad man looking to dabble with a medical shortcut to remove sin, and depravity from the human being.

Since their birthdays were all just a few short months apart, they all went through this change, and the result was just a little different from one to another. Some were stunningly beautiful, while others were rather plain looking. Some were handsome, others not. All of them however, were transformed into what would be considered in that day, to be average height, and average appearance.

As the years went by, their mad mothers eventually passed away, along with their grandparents. Their own father lived a long, and painfully lonely life. They all took care of him, and sooner or later, many of them moved away, or married newcomers to the town, and started families of their own. All of their children were born healthy, and of average stature. The gene experiment ended with their generation.

With the passing of time they each learned of the truth of how this family history was altered by a man trying to make a name for himself, by dabbling in places only God had any business going.

For them, the words to this song, in particular this very verse, became more of a reality, than many take them to be. These people understood these words to their very core:

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

They knew that what the old doctor had called the Depravity Core was something that could never be altered by science, but could only be remedied by the Lord Jesus' finished work on the cross.

(The above is not a true story – it was a pain medication-induced dream I had last night. As dreams go, the details might be fuzzy in some places – but there it is, all the same. Originally posted 8/22/05.)

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

its JUST a rumor, but I've heard that...

bloggers are people too






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HummerCam August 2008

This is the female Ruby Throated Hummingbird. During the course of the day (beginning around 7:30am) I filmed her feeding at the feeder. I hope you enjoy this little slice of life as viewed out my window.





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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sex & The Homeschool Mom

Ha. Now that I have your attention, I'd like to point something out that I discovered just last night. This was something I already knew via general observation, but last night I discovered it in a more "raw data" sort of way.

While at CBD ordering school books for the 08/09 school year, I was browsing through their health curriculum for grade levels 2 through 4. We haven't done a specific health "plan" as a part of our homeschool curriculum (aside from having family and private discussions about key things, of course), so I had planned to add a more structured program for the second half of our school year.

Now, when I say health, what I'm referring to is basic physical fitness, nutrition, personal hygeine, and that sort of thing. However, when CBD offers health, something else is riding the #1 bestselling spot in every grade level from pre-school all the way through highschool. What that something else is, obviously, are books about sex. Yes, beginning with pre-school aged children (3-5). I checked every grade level and out of the top 10 bestselling books in each grade level, books about sex average between 3 and 5 out of that top 10. From pre-school through 8th grade, this series God's Design for Sex Series, 4 Books: Revised is the #1 selling health book/plan, with the series Learning About Sex Pack, 7 Volumes ranking not far behind.

Honestly, when I saw that, the movie The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is what came to my mind.

Let's start with the GOOD and the obvious side of things. It is good and obviously needed that we as parents give our children solid, factual, Biblical information on this subject. For a million and one reasons this is probably the most difficult subject for most parents (if we're all honest, most parents would admit that we've actually forgotten most of the factual/clinical information we once learned about this subject) to discuss with their children, and these books make it a lot easier. For the younger children they're designed with the idea in mind that the parents will read parts of the book then allow for questions that will no doubt come up. We have two of the books from this series shown here, and they're very thorough without being over-thorough. The books in the older age categories are meant for the children to read themselves, with the assumption that the parent will be available to answer any questions they will have.

So then on to the BAD. While books like this are indeed good and helpful and many parents will be quite thankful to have such a resource, we live in a day that society refuses us as parents to allow our children to remain innocent children and just enjoy being kid, without sex being shoved in their faces. I come from the stone age where kids were actually kids up until about the 4th grade when we started wondering about certain things, and then the 5th grade where we had the week long class where the boys and girls were seperated into different classrooms for the afternoon. At the end of that week came "the film" that so many of us remember (and giggled about for days) that taught us all we ever needed (and really didn't want to know, at 11 years old) to know about the changes beginning, and the monumental changes to come, for both boys and girls. Truth be told, the vast majority of us didn't want those changes to come, especially us girls. You girls know exactly what I'm saying here. Its funny but, that 5 day class in the 5th grade was packed with so much information, that it's ALL the sex-ed health we had in public school, until two years later in 7th grade. Of course we still had general health classes, but that category was so well covered in those 5 days that we didn't need more than that, at the time.

It is no longer the stone age where kids are actually kids, and this brings us to the UGLY. All day long, kids are exposed and indoctrinated and bombarded to and by sex, sexual images, sexually suggestive speech, attitudes, clothing, and more. They see and hear things at 5 years old (that are already so common to them that they don't even question it) that most of us never saw or heard until we were teenagers. Society has degenerated in such a way that now even pre-schoolers in a public school system will be taught about homosexual families, and that will begin their career in "health education" in the public school system. Sometimes you really wish you could turn back the clock, but we all know you just can't. We can't flip the calendar pages back to the 50s or 60s when public school systems kept their nose out of parents business in this area, and when children's television programming was as risque as Wile E. Coyote in a tutu. (To be fair to Wile E., I don't recall him ever wearing one, but if he did he was no doubt quite secure in his male coyote-ness and it was JUST a disguise, he didn't actually enjoy it).

No, we cannot turn back the clock. We as parents have to live and raise our kids in a decaying and depraved society and we have to use every good resource we can find to equip them and equip them well. It does make me sad that these things have to be introduced to our kids at such a tender and precious age, but the fact of the matter is they're already exposed to them anyway. We just have to be sure we're exposing them to Godly and factual information to counter the trash that society shoves in their faces.


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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Prayer Journalling

(I posted this earlier this year. I've slightly edited and updated the information here, and I hope it serves to bless you).

I've written about this before but I thought with the new year it might be a good time to do that again. A dear sister and I were having a chat the other day and prayer journalling came up in that conversation, so it reminded me of what a blessing it really is.

I know that for myself, my days are so busy and hectic that by the end of the day when I want to communicate with God in prayer, I have this horrible tendency to let my thoughts wander all over the place. This is one of the things about being disciplined in my prayer life that has always been an issue, and has always bothered me a great deal. Prayer journalling has helped in this regard.

Before I tell you about the benefits to prayer journalling, I'd like to take a moment to explain what what prayer journalling isn't.

You may have the idea that this kind of journalling is similar to personal journalling. For the most part, that would be incorrect. Personal journalling is all about documenting your thoughts, exploring your feelings, and expressing on paper all manner of thoughts that pertain to your life, your hopes, your dreams, etc. Essentially, it's all about you, and most people do this type of journalling as a way to work through things, or to simply document experiences. This can be very helpful for some people, and it can also (oddly enough, and I'm not even sure why) benefit your memory skills.

In contrast however, prayer journalling only shares one similarity with personal journalling and that similarity is that is will benefit you. Beyond that, prayer journalling isn't about you at all, but other people's situations, needs, requests, etc. Prayer journalling is simply a way to document prayer needs that are brought to your attention that otherwise might slip your mind in this hurry-up, fast-food, microwave, instant-world we all live in and deal with every day. While some folks might associate such a thing with emerging or pomo/mystic/liberal/wacky Christian churches or movements, I can assure you that just because some of them may promote "faith journalling" and the like, the exercise itself certainly isn't rooted in the same nonsense that comes out of most of these movements and churches.

Now that we know what it isn't, lets get down to what it is, and how it works to benefit you!

There are several different ways to keep such a journal, and each person will adopt their own style. One way is to actually write out your prayers in the journal each day. If you're going to do that, get a big journal with lots of pages so that you don't feel restricted in length. Another way people sometimes do this is to make each week a theme, such as week 1 of the month, they specifically pray for family, week 2 they pray for leadership (husbands, pastors, local civic and government leaders, etc.), week 3 might be friends and loved ones with specific needs, etc. Another way to prayer journal, is to write dated entries for those who have a need, and then simply pray for them each day and be sure to update the entry with how the Lord answered, when He does. Still another really helpful idea that I recently read about was to keep pictures in the journal of the people you're praying for. I really like this idea and may decide to include it in the way I keep my own prayer journal. I love to see the smiling faces of the people in my life, especially those that are far away, that I don't get to see in person nearly as much as I'd like.

What I have done, is use the dated entry format. I don't do it on the computer at all because I find that writing things out by hand and having a journal that I carry with me from room to room is better for me. I always write the date of the entry, followed by the person in need or the situation. During my prayer time those people and situations are things I pray for each day, and when the Lord answers those prayers I update the entry with the date and how He answered.

This is beneficial for me in several ways.

One, it helps greatly in keeping my thoughts from wondering when I'm praying. Instead of remembering that I didn't put the wash in the dryer, or take something out of the freezer for dinner tomorrow, or thinking about making a return call to someone, my thoughts are more firmly focused on what I'm praying about. While all of those "busy mom" thoughts are important in their place, I don't want them intruding on my time spent in prayer, and causing me to forget something that I wanted to pray about.

Secondly, its a joy, a privelege and an honor to be able to go to the Lord in prayer over situations and circumstances in the lives of those you're close to. When someone says "would you pray with me about this?" I say yes, and I mean it. Before I kept a journal I would often forget that prayer request and then feel awful about it. Keeping the journal helps me to remember and honor my word and take these things before the Lord.

Third, its such an incredible way to actually document the way the Lord works in the lives of His people. We've probably all heard that the Lord answers prayer in three ways; yes, no and wait. Well, it's true that He does answer that way but His answers are quite often much more detailed than that. His answers often come in completely unexpected ways and I think sometimes we miss noticing that. Journalling helps me to not miss it. Journalling helps me to meditate a bit more on the way our Heavenly Father is actively working in my own life, and in the lives of fellow believers (and unbelievers as well).

Prayer JournallingIf you've considered starting a prayer journal, I would really encourage you to do it. There are lots of websites out there that tell you how to do it and give some great ideas, but however you do it, it's sure to be a blessing to you and only enrich this particular spiritual discipline.

By request I have recently introduced a beautiful line of Prayer Journals to Reflections Apparel and Gifts. Each Wire-O bound 5"x8" journal comes with your choice of paper (60lb bookweight (24 lb bond) paper -- blank, dot grid, lined college-ruled, or a task journal), is 160 pages, and has an inspirational scenic or nature image and "prayer" verse reference on the laminated front cover.

If you do keep a prayer journal and have additional ideas, I'd love to hear from you.

Monday, August 18, 2008

If ever there were a good reason...

for getting up before the sun rises, this would suffice:

sunrise monday



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Oh Don't Be So Stupid!

Recently someone who knows me very well made a comment to me about the way I edit my photographs. With the intention of being helpful, they told me that in their opinion there is a particular tool I use too much, with certain kinds of shots. I responded by saying "oh really? I wasn't aware of that, thank you for pointing that out to me, I sure appreciate that, and I'll change the way I do that, immediately!"

Yeah, sure I did. And the pope is an undercover Southern Baptist gathering crucial data for a new missional, evangelical program strategy. Ahem. Moving right along...

Truth be told, I responded with "I do not!" My immediate and initial reaction was denial, rejection, and maybe even a wee bit of idignation. It only lasted for a few seconds, but it was there all the same. After the inital few-second reaction, then I really did say "do I really?" and welcomed the correction, genuinely eager to hear how I could learn a better way. It was however the initial response that has stuck with me for a few days now, and what every single one of us deals with. Correction and instruction. How we deal with that, says more about us than I think we even realize.

I was looking at Proverbs 15:9-10 and essentially what it says is that the person who has strayed from the path of righteousness will literally hate to be corrected, and will find what we might call constructive criticism (Scripture uses the word that can be translated into instruction, discipline or chastening), unpleasant words to disagree over and reject as troublesome or just plain wicked.

Proverbs has a lot to say about this, and after I read this passage I read more and here are just a few examples of what Scripture has to say about the person who rejects instruction:

Proverbs 1:7 says that it is the fool who despises it.

Proverbs 12:1 actually says that the man who loves correction loves knowledge, but the man who hates correction is just stupid. I'm not making this up, I assure you. The KJV calls such a man "brutish" and this word actually means displaying stupidity.

Proverbs 13:1 says the wise hear it, but the arrogant will not.

Proverbs 13:18 says the man who rejects it will suffer poverty and dishonor.

Proverbs 15:12 says he that hates it, actually hates himself.


That's rather profound when you think about it for a moment. If a man is veering off the path of righteousness according to God's standards, and heading down a path of his own version of righteousness, that man (or woman, or teenager, or kid) has set up a brand new standard for himself. The new standard IS self, and words of correction or instruction suddenly and intensely offend the pride in that man and cause this ugly reaction that Scripture defines as being a fool, stupid, arrogant, in want, dishonorable, and hating himself. Not a very pretty picture, is it?

If you could see a scenario like this played out, you might hear the person say something like "how DARE you tell me how to do this" or "who are YOU to tell me anything??" Such a reaction comes when man sets himself up as his own god, so to speak. His way is the way, and there is no one that possesses enough wisdom to dare instruct that man.

One of the most heartbreaking things that a Christian faces, is when they suddenly respond to something either in thought or word, the way they did as the "old man". When you become puffed up and so full of yourself that there is just no way anyone can tell you anything, no matter how trivial it might be. The example I gave up above about photography was certainly not a spiritual matter or dealing with receiving spiritual wisdom, but the attitude with which I even briefly initially responded with, most certainly is a spiritual matter. Even if just for a few seconds my heart and mind said "I am right and you are wrong and you cannot instruct me!" it was a few seconds too long. Even if the person was wrong with their helpful advice, and I was the one who was right, my initial reaction was still wrong, and still sinful and arrogant.

I'm learning more and more to not respond that way, but to be open to correction, to wisdom, to instruction and to grow in that. It's one of the hardest things I've ever done, too. Admitting you don't have all the answers is admitting you've got a weak spot, and the old "pride" in man just doesn't like to do that. Realizing that Scripture calls that man foolish, stupid, arrogant, in want, dishonorable, and hating himself, goes a REALLY long way in not wanting to identify with that man, at all!



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Saturday, August 16, 2008

You Snooze, You Lose

Welcome to Story Time. Yes, there is a most pertinent point to the following story and I'm sure you'll catch it before you're at the end.

For six long years she traveled this highway. She knew it like the back of her hand. Every hill, every intersection, every little bridge that crossed every little stream. Along this highway were three seperate ponds that her eyes quickly scanned every time she would approach them. The first pond was easy to see, as it sat nestled among trees on the far side and was wide open viewing from the highway. The next two ponds sat back a little from the highway and were directly across from each other, one on the east side of the highway, the other on the west. It was the pond on the west that captured her attention every time.

An avid birdwatcher for many years, she knew quite well that there would always be a various assortment of birds in the west pond. Geese, ducks, Kingfishers, and more. Her favorite bird of all time, the Great Blue Heron, was almost always a regular visitor to this particular pond. At some time in the long, distant past, someone had built a small pier that jutted out from the shore and went almost halfway to the center of the pond. She'd never seen a human being on the pier but she imagined at one time someone's daddy had taken his little boy out there to teach him how to fish. Maybe a teenager had taken a radio out there and relaxed in the summer sun. While most certainly it was once strong and sturdy, time had not been kind to the pier, and it no longer looked stable enough to hold a human being. It was plenty stable however, to bear the weight of the majestic Great Blue Heron, which often stood on the peir railing, peering into the water for his next meal of fish, frogs or maybe even a turtle.

While the pond itself sat back from the highway and was not entirely visible, the pier stood tall and the railing where the Heron stood was easily viewable to any passing motorist. At key times of the day, the way the sun's rays danced around the area, if the Heron was standing at his usual post, the sunlight would light up his colors with an almost surreal glow and he often looked like a fairy tale creature in a classic childrens story book with hues of glowing ambers, fiery blues, and polished steel grays.

Week after week, month after month, season after season, she traveled this highway and always looked for her favorite bird at this pond. Almost always she was pleasantly delighted to see him standing there, and almost always she thought to herself "one of these days, I should stop and take pictures of this gorgeous creature". Her busy life being what it was, nearly every trip down that highway was on her way to someplace important, and extra time never seemed to be on her side. "One of these days", she told herself, year after year.

That day had finally arrived. As she traveled one more time down the south highway, she saw him once again. She determined right then that on her trip back she would stop and finally capture this beautiful bird forever, on digital memory. After she had finished with her business in town she headed back out onto the highway and as she approached the pond she slowed the vehicle preparing to stop. Finally, after all these years she was going to do what she'd meant to do so long ago. She felt good about the decision.

She pulled her vehicle over to the side of the road and scanned the many trees and bushes to finally get a good view of the pond with the pier, and when the vehicle came to a full stop she sat there horrified at what she saw. "Oh NO!" she cried outloud to no one in particular, and heard her own words echo in her ears. During the time she had been taking care of her business in town, someone had come along and demolished the pier where the Great Blue Heron had once stood. She could see the pile of old, rotting wood that was once a pier, laying on the shore not too far from where it once stood in the water. The pier gone, the Heron no longer had a perch to stand on, and she knew she would never have the opportunity again to see him standing there the way he once did. One of these days, she thought to herself, and felt her heart sink as the irony of the scene settled into her thoughts. The very day she finally stopped, was the very day that one hour too late, she would miss her chance forever to enjoy this scene.

She slowly eased her vehicle back onto the highway feeling a sadness and a great disappointment in herself, for putting off so many times, what she had so often meant to do.

The End

In case you hadn't already figured it out, the person in the story is me, and the story is actually true and happened this week. While the idea of getting an award winning shot of a Heron is quite trivial (although I'm telling you, it would have been THE coolest bird picture, ever!) in the grand scheme of things, the moral of the story is simply this: Carpe Diem - seize the day.

Do not put off until "some day" the things you mean to do. Say what you need to say, do what you need to do and don't find yourself living in regret that you procrastinated one minute or one day too long. Make that call, send that letter, hug that kid, say you're sorry... whatever it is that you need to do today, DO IT, and don't delay. You'll be really glad you did.


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Friday, August 15, 2008

Welcome to youtube: watch your first step

James reposted a video today that many of you may have already seen. I had not been able to load it until now, so if you haven't seen this yet, you MUST watch it.

I laughed so hard I think I hurt myself. It was so worth it, I'm going to watch it a few more times.


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Whip Crackin' Update2

Well, it's 2 days early but I decided to go ahead and get this done. Partly because I don't really want to do it at all, and partly because I really don't want it hanging around my thoughts for the weekend. So I'm just getting it over with. sigh...

Okay, just to update the routine:

Sit ups (day one: 7 - one month: 15 - two months 15)
Leg ups (day one: 4 - one month: 7 - two months: 10)
Standing Side leg lifts (day one: 8 ea. - one month: 16 ea. - two months: 16 ea.)
Standing Back leg lifts (day one: 8 ea. - one month: 24 ea. - two months: 24 ea.)
Push ups (day one: 5 - one month: 15 two months: none - eliminated from routine)
Side bends: (day one: 12 - one month: 24 - two months: 16)
With free weights (3.5 pounds each) 3 sets of 10 ea repetitions.
Stationary bike: 15 minutes per session.

So, as you can see by the above list, in some areas I've improved (yay) in other areas I've scaled back, and I've replaced push ups with using free weights for upper body/arm toning. I've also added the use of the stationary bike, but have just started that this week so it's a brand new addition. I'm still working out M-F and in the past month have only missed 2 days of workouts. The days I've missed however, have been very physically active days so I didn't/don't feel bad about missing the "regular" workout.

Now that I have the technical part of the update out of the way, I can get down to how this is really working out (no pun intended) for me. On the good side, I'm a lot stronger and can do far more controlled movements than when I first started. I can also see a noticeable difference in the areas that I work the hardest (although I don't dare ask anyone else, so it's just my own personal observation).

The frustrating part is, while I barely eat anything as it is, I'm practically forcing myself to eat breakfast (food makes me gag in the morning), and eat healthier all around (except my cheetos, do NOT touch my cheetos!) and I'm more active than I've been in a really long time... and I've GAINED 4 pounds. I'm thinking, I either need to get a new scale (this thing has been around forever and I'm sure is not at all accurate anyway) or just throw it out for good. If I at least stayed at my weight of 160-165* I'd be okay with that, but gaining is not something I was looking forward to at all, and have no idea how that is even possible. (*Like most folks, that weight fluctuates and in case you're wondering, no, I have no issue admitting my weight. Maybe I should, but I don't.)

So then... there we are. Impossible to say where I'll be in another month, since I've just recently added the stationary bike, and that might serve to let me get rid of a few pounds as well. I'm going to put new batteries in the odometer thingy on it, so I can see how far I'm actually going and how many alleged (I never believe those things) calories I'm burning off. I guess it depends on which music I listen to while I'm riding, how fast or slow I pedal!

Overall, I'm not really very encouraged this month but I'm going to keep plugging away at this. This past week has been sort of wonky, since I've been out the door at 8:15am every day (which throws my lazy schedule way off track) but I'm being flexible with my timetable. This is the longest I've ever gone with a workout routine, and even though I give myself weekends off, I'm at the point now where I actually look forward to Monday and getting back into my regular schedule. I'm not sure how this will all change in a few weeks when we resume our daily school lessons. I might just have to get up a little earlier to get this done first thing in the morning.

I've labelled this "encouragement" in hopes that it might be just that, for someone else. Getting back into shape after 7 kids isn't easy, but I know it's possible and I'm going for it.

(If you like, you can read my first post on this, and my update from the first month).


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Thursday, August 14, 2008

A La Carla?

I know, it's a ripoff but it was the first thing that came to mind...

• As of this moment (7:58am) you have exactly 16 hours and 2 minutes left, to enter to win a free t-shirt from Reflections Apparel and Gifts (giveaway open to US and Canadian residents only). This will be the last giveaway this year, so if you want a freebie from my store, today is your last chance for the year.

Wow. These guys are amazing. (HT: Fibby!)

Faithway Baptist Church (hey, I know those folks!) has some fun pics & short video clip of this year's VBS program. (More pics to come, as we have our family barbeque Friday, to close out the week).

They found bigfoot. No, really.

• You probably already know this but blogger's widgets are now called gadgets, and they're pretty cool. LOTS more to choose from, and you can read all about them in Blogger Buzz.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Missions at Home

Three years ago, Hurricane Katrina hit LA in a way that brutally devastated lives, homes, churches, businesses and families. I didn't personally know anyone there, except Eddie and his church family. When we heard the news and heard just how bad it was, our hearts sunk, tears flowed, and the diligent praying began. It was one of those times that you truly feel so helpless that you live so far away and and cannot be hands-on, when you're needed. My crazy cajun brothuh Eddie, his beautiful family and his church family is to this very day, one of the top entries in my personal prayer journal. While it may have been three years ago that the Lord spun the winds through LA, the rebuilding continues to this day, and the lives that were changed will never, ever be the same.

Eddie shared this link with me last night. It's a slide show he put together of the interior rebuilding going on there, and you need to watch it. You may need to cry as well, as you view these pictures and see the loss, and see the renewed hope as well.




To learn more about how you can bless Sovereign Grace Homeland Missions, go here.



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RolfeWorld Intro Video

The video clip below is the intro video to my youtube channel. Only after recording it did I realize that I might not have been as clear as I could be, on 1 point. While I might address doctrinal issues via video, doing something like that might feel like preaching to me. Somehow, addressing such topics via video and addressing such topics via blogging, feels very different to me. Since there is no such thing as women pastors who sit in teaching authority over men (not Biblically, anyway) I'm not so sure I'll be doing much in the way of doctrinal topics via the youtube channel. I hope that makes sense. Here's the intro:





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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Reaching Out and Touching Lives

Far be if from me to be one of those people who chat 'n tell, but there's a brother I chat with on a fairly regular basis that came to mind today. If you're a regular listener of James White's webcast The Dividing Line, you've likely heard him mention "Algo in channel". If you've never been "in channel", that's the chat room where us "channel rats" like to hang out and fellowship, goof off, and just enjoy one another's company. I've participated in and managed quite a few chats online over the years, and #prosapologian is by far, the best managed, and the coolest group of folks to hang out with. Brother Algo, is a certifiable channel rat, and he has such an incredible memory, I jokingly call him Algoogle. I've said that I'd like to hire him for when my memory begins to fade. It's a great thing to have a sharp memory, and Algo outdoes ALL of us put together, on our best days.

What made me think of him today was that I was digging through my gmail archives trying to find an email conversation I'd had with a friend about a particular subject. I thought to myself "if Algo had known about the conversation, he could tell me exactly what month, and probably even the day!" It's too bad we're not all Algo! :-) Thankfully, gmail (which is technically google) is almost Algo. One of the things I really like about gmail is that the storage space is MASSIVE, and unless you manually delete (or set it up to delete) it will keep all your emails in a nice, organized fashion.

So with a potential time frame in mind, I start digging back through the archives of conversations with this particular friend. Due to the fact that I don't always match the subject of an email with the actual subject OF the email, that made it a little more difficult to find. So I go back 6 months, then a year, then 18 months, then 2 years, then 3 years... and I just kept going. I actually found the conversation I was looking for long before that, but the stroll down Email Conversation Lane was so funny and so enjoyable, I just kept clicking on random conversations. Some were dead serious, others just downright silly, some were personal family things, others were blog/web related things and still others there were pics attached or links shared. One of the more interesting things about that was seeing how the friendship sort of evolved over time from the initial correspondence several years ago.

As I thought about how enjoyable that was today, I thought about another friend I met online many many years ago. Her name was Karen, and she actually came to mind initially last week while I was looking through an old photo album. Karen lived in Australia, and when I was running a chat room on the old msn chat site, she was at first, a regular chatter there. She loved the chat room so much she inquired about becoming a host (chat room operator or manager) and I immediately approved. She was a real joy and blessing to me personally to have as a part of our host team, and we were all glad to have her on board. What made me think of her last week in the photo album, was the Vegemite she sent up from Australia. I sent down some authentic Canadian maple goodies, and she sent up some vegemite & aussie cookies for us to all try. She made me promise to take pics of all of us trying the vegemite, so I obliged. Trust me, NO ONE wants to see the pic of me tasting vegemite, but I did send them to Karen, and her and her family had a huge laugh. As one of the world's pickiest eaters, I am almost positive vegemite was one of the plagues in Egypt. The cookies however, were fantastic.

Karen wasn't with us in the chat room for very long before she was diagnosed with cancer. More accurately I should say that she was diagnosed again, as she'd already battled and won several bouts with various cancers in her young life. As the new rounds of treatments began, she was in the chat room less and less, and when she was able to come in she always received an extremely warm welcome. She always asked us to pray for her husband and her little girls, and assured us that the Lord was taking care of her just fine. A week or two passed and Karen didn't come in or email anyone, so several of us emailed her. It was about a month later that her husband finally logged into her email account and responded to all of us to give us the news that Karen's last battle with cancer was finally over and while cancer claimed her body, she was home with the Lord. He told us all she wanted to make sure we knew how much she loved us and appreciated our prayers, our fellowship online, and our welcoming her into our little community. Needless to say, we all did a lot of crying that day, and spent a lot of time in the chat room that night remembering Karen's faith, and how she touched our lives and how we evidently touched hers. Her husband was not saved, but it was clear to all of us that the emails he read from us to her, were enough to genuinely cause him to ask some questions and ask us himself, to pray for him.

In the past few weeks I've seen quite a few blog/web posts about online conduct & how it affects people. Most of the stuff I read about it is usually bad, and I have even written about it in a critical way myself. This is one of those topics that never goes away, because it's one of those topics that is just inherent to all people online, at all times. What struck me today however is that there is A LOT of good things about connecting with people online. Lives can be touched in tremendously powerful ways (as Karen's husband testified) and friendships can be forged that turn into the most treasured friendships ever. Folks meeting folks online often paves the way for finding new churches for those without, growing in faith for those who might be stammering along, new opportunities to minister and serve, and simply creating all sorts of new fellowships, and new bonds. It certainly can be a real blessing, and I know that probably every person reading this right now, can think of at least 1 person that fits this description their life, to a T. We've all been touched in some way by someone (or a group of folks) that we've met online, and it's just a shame there isn't more encouragement in that area to be that kind of a blessing to those that we meet in this strange new world of communication.



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