Monday, March 30, 2009

Store Stuff: Words of Hope

I purposely started a store blog to write about such things as new designs in the store, but a redesign I worked on this past weekend turned out even better than I hoped it might so I just wanted to share that here as well.

Simple and elegant Words of Hope in a wide variety of apparel and gifts:

Grace Hope

Faith Peace

Words of Hope

Great Christian t-shirts and gift ideas for the whole family
reflections at zazzle too!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Creepy Invasion of Technology

I should warn you, I'm going to assume the role of Stick in the Mud here. I will have to assume my personal opinion on the following subject stems in part from the fact that I purposely do not own/use most of the technology gadgets that are currently available. I've written about this here before and I'm going to do it again because I think it needs to be said. Often.

Today online, I noticed two different comments on social networking sites that made me sit back and really wonder if we're not letting technology become far more invasive than it really should be. Now while it's totally unfair to assign motives based on two little comments, these are the kinds of comments I see often.

One comment was from a brother who mentioned what his pastor was saying; giving the impression that he'd actually typed that comment in church, during the Sunday sermon. The other comment was from another brother who thought it would be a good idea for someone to invent a client for a popular social networking site, that looks like a run of the mill spreadsheet page. The purpose in that would be so that you could use it at work, fool your boss and co-workers, but still participate in your socializing online during work hours.

I thought about both of those comments for longer than I really wanted to. Something about them bothered me, and I can only assume it has everything to do with how much it creeps me out that the human race seems to be turning into cyborgs. I know what you're thinking, you're thinking "that's a little extreme, don't you think?" Well, think about it for a minute.

At any time of the day, any day of the week no matter where you go you will find people plugged in. Plugged into earbuds, or phones actually attached to their heads. If they don't have one or both of those, they have their cell phones or laptops with them no matter where they go. They MUST be able to contact others and be contacted, 24 hours a day seven days a week no matter what. No matter where they are, no matter what they're doing, no matter if it's appropriate or not, these are people that must remain connected to the hub of socializing or they'll... they'll what? I have no idea what happens to these people if they suddenly lose their connection, but I assume it's not pretty. This is why I say human beings are turning into some kind of half-human/half-robot type of creatures that are dependant on computer chips and electronic wizardry to stay functional. I seriously question what kind of people they would be if suddenly they were without all these electronic toys. Could they even function in a face to face social setting? Would they have a clue what to do at home if they couldn't "connect"? Would they suddenly become irritable and moody, like people who go through drug addiction withdrawls? Maybe that sounds just as extreme as people turning into cyborgs, but is it really? I think we've all known people that actually do get like this when one of their toys fails them.

Now, with that said the question begs whether or not it's ever really reasonable to have a device with you in such places like church or the office, where you can have direct, personal communication access at any given moment. Well, of course it is. Various situations such as a medical condition that might require a moment's notice is the first thing that comes to mind. I suppose there are other situations that I am not even able to think of that would also fall into this same category. The thing is though, this is most certainly not what many folks are using their connectivity for. They're at work looking for ways to twitter (or at church texting their buddies, or at school messaging someone who's in another class), for crying out loud. I don't care who you are, bagging your responsibilities during the course of the day so you can tweet and update your buddies on what's going on with you at any given moment, borderlines (to me, anyway) on seriously immature, irresponsible nonsense. Besides, who in the world is that special that anyone really NEEDS to know what they're doing when they're supposed to be working? Are we really all that self-absorbed that we think the followers on our twitter page or facebook, myspace are just sitting there waiting with baited breath for our next update? I hope we're not thinking that way. I really really hope we're not thinking that way, but I have a hunch I am probably wrong about this. I think there are lots of people out there that are exactly like this.

Obviously, the key is balance. Knowing when, why, how, where and how often, and all that sort of thing. Example: it's perfectly okay to have your earbuds in while painting a wall, but it's a very stupid thing to do to have them in while sitting in church. Another example: it's understandable to kick off your shoes after work and update your social site status for your friends and family, but it's entirely irresponsible to bag work duties so you can tweet and check up on your friends. I know this sounds ridiculously obvious, but apparently its a message that is going right over the heads of a lot of people. I can't even say it's young people either and blame it on youth and immaturity, because I've seen it taking place with people well into their 40s and 50s and even older. It's just plain creepy.

There, I've ranted and I feel lots better.

Great Christian t-shirts and gift ideas for the whole family
reflections at zazzle too!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Adventures in No TV

Last week the kids took a much needed week off tv and xbox. I had begun to notice that they were quoting more and more lines from Hannah, iCarly and Batman, and centering more and more discussions on strategies and techniques in their favorite games. To me, when kids begin to do that it's a flaming red flag that says they're spending way too much time with such things. So, we took a solid week off both.

The funny thing is, it didn't really bother them at all. They didn't moan and groan around the house about how bored they were (which is good) but they immediately found other things to occupy them in their spare time. They played more board games, played outside more on the good weather days, and listened to more cds than usual. One of the things that really surprised me was how quickly their recently aquired Adventures in Odyssey collection (very small collection of only a few cds) became the favorite thing to listen to for all four of them.

I knew that this show had been on the radio for many years and I've even listened to it myself while running errands, but until I did some research, I had no idea there was so much available (cds, dvds, etc.). Only because we don't get the local Christian radio station out here in the country, all the kids have never heard this radio show until this past week when they all listened to their cds. It was really nice to see them all sitting on the couch, listening intently to the stories and following along with what was happening. They LOVED it, and I love the message.

I have to take a closer look at the cds they have, and go through the site and see which ones they would like to add to their collection. I'm hoping to find them used for much less, but even the brand new ones are a really good price. I'm actually surprised I haven't connected the dots with this resource for the kids before. It just sorta flew right over my head, somehow.

I'm really glad our adventures in no TV turned into an adventure of another kind! Oh, and if anyone reading happens to have these cds sitting around unused, I'd be more than happy to take them off your hands for you.

Great Christian t-shirts and gift ideas for the whole family
reflections at zazzle too!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Bible Lesson: Thought Questions

Yesterday in school the lesson in Bible was the section called Thought Questions. The kids are supposed to think these questions over and write out their answers. Before they do that however, we go over the questions together and pull examples from the week's lesson and talk about some examples (of the questions) in our own, every day lives. I thought yesterday's two simple questions were just excellent. Here they are:

1. Why is your life worthless without God?

2. Why does God give your life meaning and purpose?

Great questions for serious consideration and some rather interesting family discussion. I wonder, how would you answer these questions?

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

My Kids Rock

Have you ever been so busy you weren't sure which end was up? Yeah, me too. Lately it seems its been this way non-stop. However, in my state of busyhood, I've been working on a new project that was not only made possible with the help of my kids, but was made even more enjoyable because they were a huge part of it. You can read all about it here, and leave a comment if you like.

Great Christian t-shirts and gift ideas for the whole family
reflections at zazzle too!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Spring Project #1 - DONE


March 10 - My first official spring project begins today, and it's an old dresser that is getting a facelift. When Ruth was a baby it was donated to us, and just a few days later another one was given to us and since the other one was bigger, she got that one. This one sat here in the game room and was used more for a table than anything else. It's a very sturdy, very heavy dresser that was originally sold as a combo dresser/baby changing table, which is obvious by the raised top and back of the top the dresser.

I took a look at it recently and decided it needs to be put to good use, but first all the paint has to come off so I can see the condition of the wood. From the chips and nicks in the paint here and there it looks like it's been repainted at least 3-4 times over the years, but it also looks solid so I suspect the wood itself is in pretty great shape. So I'll begin the project today with a trip to the hardware store for a can of paint remover & various supplies to see where we're at. I love projects like this and I'm looking foward to seeing it completed and seeing this dresser back in service. I'll post before and after pics when it's all done.

Spring project #2 is finishing the painting in Rachel's bedroom. We've settled on a deep purple for the high ceiling and a pale lavendar for the walls. The trim is already done in white, but the project had to be delayed over the winter for various reasons, so that will resume next week, Lord willing.

I love projects like this, it means gardening is just around the corner!


March 11 - So the project began yesterday and it turns out it will probably take me a little longer than I anticipated to finish it. As I suspected, the wood is indeed in really great shape. The only real problem is, is that it had at least 2 coats of that awful olive green paint so popular in the late 60's.

This is the before pic, and what it's looked like ever since it was given to us:

Obviously this dresser was in a girl's room at some point. In addition, someone applied some type of foam shapes to one of the drawers and they're not coming off very easily.

This is the way it looks this morning:

After several coats of paint remover to the top, sides and front, this is how the dresser looks this morning. You can see the bottom layer of the yucky olive green, on the front. I ran out of paint remover so I'll be picking up more today, along with some steel wool and fine grit sandpaper. It should be ready for sanding by the end of today. I haven't decided yet if I'm going to stain, I may just leave it in it's natural state and apply a light coat of finish. I really love the look of natural wood furniture. I'll make that decision after the last round of sanding.

March 23 - Well, it's done. I no longer have working thumbs, but the project is done. It took a lot longer than I hoped it might and that's partially because I couldn't find my little electric sander (which technically isn't even mine, we borrowed it from a friend about... 8 years ago, and completely forgot to return it. Hows that for absentminded?), so the whole job was done by hand (which explains the wasted thumbs), and partly because there's just so much else going on around here that I didn't have the time I'd hoped. In any event, it's done!

While stripping the drawers this is what I found on one side of one the drawers, under the top layer of white paint:

I'm not sure what the fascination was with this color years ago, but I've lived in places where the toilet, sink, fridge and stove were all this color too. I currently live in a place that bears a carpet in the game room from that same era of home decor insanity, as you can see in these pics. In any event, as for the color... I guess it was all the rage at one point, along with neon orange daisies. Just as I suspected as well, there was one one both sides of this drawer and it was painted on with some kind of industrial strength perma-paint. It wasn't easy getting it off, but I did.
Here is the finished product, as it looked this afternoon before it left my house:

I decided to leave it completely unfinished and let my daughter decide if she wants to stain it or leave it as is. It will indeed be used for a nursery dresser/change table, and fitted with a changing pad. It's already been delivered to it's new home where it awaits the arrival of it's new owner (my new grandbaby), in just a couple of weeks.

Great Christian t-shirts and gift ideas for the whole family
reflections at zazzle too!

Friday, March 20, 2009

In the News: Pastor Under Fire

While reading the headlines the other day I came across one that might as well have jumped off the screen at me:

New England Town Outraged After Pastor Takes In Child Killer

Of course I clicked and read. You should too, because the headline (while purposely worded to strike fear and generate interest) isn't really as accurate as it could be. In a nutshell, Rev. David Pinckney offered 60-year-old convicted felon Raymond Guay a place to live temporarily, when he was paroled and had nowhere to go. Part of Guay's criminal record includes the murder of a 12 yr old boy in 1973 when Guay was 25 years old, as well as a later kidnapping charge in another case, and assault charge in yet another, in 1991. Apparently 1991 is where his criminal activity ends. What initially struck me about the article itself, is that the media purposely focuses on Guay's most outrageous crime of murdering a child in 1973, while downplaying the fact that it WAS 1973, and that his criminal history ends 18 years ago.

I'm not someone who's spent a lot of time around criminals. I know it was just a line in a movie but I think there's some real wisdom and logic in it when Red goes before the parole board in Shawshank Redemption and finally just tells them he doesn't really care anymore if they deny his parole, and explains that what he did as a young, stupid kid so many years ago was a horrible thing. He says he is not the man he was all those years ago, and that if he could go back and talk to that young man he certainly would. I would have to assume a lot of convicted felons feel the very same way, when they look back at who and what they were as young men or women. Fact is, young people do things that older, wiser people just don't do. Fact is, people grow up and people are almost never the same at 60, as they were at 25.

That was just my initial reaction to the story. Far more important are the details of the Pastor's decision and the personal testimonies of who Raymond Guay is today, in 2009.

According to a letter Pastor Pinckney released to the media after his decision to take Guay in, he did it because it's simply the Christian thing to do. Now, that blows a lot of people away. If I were to be honest, it leaves me a little bit unsettled as well. Not unsettled because this man is doing the Christian thing, but unsettled because I'm not so sure I'd make the same decision and extend that same mercy if I were in this pastor's shoes. No question it would be a very difficult decision to make in light of Raymond Guay's criminal and violent past.

I can only assume the decision was made a little easier by Pastor Pinckney's very own words when he was quoted: "Pinckney insists that his life “has been on a very different course” since becoming a follower of Jesus Christ in 1993". Raymond Guay was referred to pastor Pinckney by Al Lamorey, who served as Guay's pastor in prison for 10 years.

Now lets think about this for a moment. As Christian people we will all attest to the very same statement that pastor Pinckney's church website has issued which reads in part "We believe in the power of God to save and change people, both inside and outside prison walls". As believers, we know this is true and our very lives are testimonies of it. Some of us were as "bad" as Guay. Some of us were druggies, some were prostitutes, some were child abusers, some were thieves, others were liars, and the list goes on for a trillion miles. All of us were wretched, rotten sinners who's god was self and self was #1. While not all believers were convicted criminals in the eyes of society before conversion to Christ, every unbeliever was guilty of the sin of rebellion against God.

Raymond Guay, for the past 10 years at least, has been under the pastoral care of a prison pastor who has seen the fruit of Guay's "jailhouse religion" as its commonly known as. He has watched him grow in grace, mature in Christ, and seems convinced of this man's true conversion. I haven't had the same pastor for 10 years, but I would certainly hope that my own pastor would be able to say the same about me. According to everything I've read on this in the past few days (and I've read everything I can find), not only is Raymond Guay NOT the same man he was at 25 when he killed that boy, he is not the same man he was when he committed his subsequent crimes until 1991. From all testimonies I can find, the power of the Holy Spirit changed this man in 1993, and he is a new creation in Christ Jesus. This, according to those who've spent the most time with him and know him better than anyone else.

Now with that said, comes the outrage of the local community that this ex-con is in their midst. If in fact Guay is a changed man, these people have absolutely nothing to fear. The problem is, the local community members that are understandably (from their perspective) outraged do not know or understand the depth and the totality of this kind of power of God to truly change someone. If they knew it and understood it, they would not be reacting the way they are.

One thing I find interesting is how unbelievers react to what Christians do. Unbelievers are the first ones to cry HYPOCRITE and mock the Christian faith when a pastor makes headline news because he's done something wrong, and yet unbelievers are also the first ones to cry foul when a pastor makes headline news when he does something entirely in line with Christian teaching, as in this case. It would appear Christians can't win for losing, in our society.

If in fact Raymond Guay is a genuine believer (and I only say it that way due to the fact that I don't know these people and can only gather as much from what the media is reporting - I do not intend to insult anyone's faith in Christ), then what took place is one Christian brother extending a hand of mercy to another Christian brother in need. This is exactly what the Scriptures instruct us to do, and exactly what takes place in Christian congregations & fellowships around the world, every single day. This is simply what we do, because we should and the Scriptures tell us it's the good and Christlike thing to do.

I have to wonder though, if this pastor was your pastor, and this was your church in the news, how would you react to all of this? As a Christian, would you support your pastor's decision to take in a man with a past like Guay's? These are thought questions more than anything else, because it's certainly given me serious pause for thought these past few days. This is where we put feet to our faith, and actually DO what the Scriptures instruct us to do. This is practical Christianity being lived out, in a culture that truly hates god, is filled with creatures denying their Creator, and where Christianity is fair game in the media and the society at large for routine mockery and disdain.

So what if this was my pastor, this my church, and this my community? Tough questions to wrestle with but important ones, I think.

Great Christian t-shirts and gift ideas for the whole family
reflections at zazzle too!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Adam and Grissom and Garcia, OH MY!

Hello, my name is Carla and I watch American Idol. Henceforth known as AI.

I know there are lots of Christians that have lots of issues with the show, and while some of those issues are legitimate and ones I agree with, I still watch the show. I like music, I like seeing previously undiscovered talent being showcased, and I actually like Simon. People that don't candy-coat what they have to say are people that I usually get along with real well.

Now with all that said, there was a particular performance on last night's show that Simon absolutely hated, and I thought was one of the coolest I've seen since Bo Bice sang acapella. Remember that one? Now that, was just too cool. Usually I agree with Simon, but last night he was just dead wrong when it came to Adam Lambert's completely off-the-wall version of Ring of Fire.

I suspected it might be a train wreck considering he was going to give it an Eastern spin (I'm sorry but you just DONT mess with Johnny Cash), but as soon as he opened his mouth, I knew it was going to be THE standout performance of his, to date. I haven't bothered to check what the web-critics are saying, but I can guarantee some hated it even more than Simon did, and some out there were blown away by it. You could hear shades of The Doors & Led Zep all mixed into a contemporary spin from a guy that looks like Adam Ant 2.0. It was WEIRD, but it was good, and it will definitely get him noticed. That's one contestant that can sing like mad.

So, as of today my favorite performer on this season's show is definitely Adam Lambert. When he takes the stage there's definitely a sense of being at an Adam concert, rather than considering it a competition, and that speaks volumes to his talent. However... I really like Danny Gokey, Megan Joy and Allison Iraheta. Danny's got that smokey/husky/blues/jazz voice, Megan is so quirky and funky with her very own sound, and Allison blows me away with the powerhouse voice she has for being 16 years old. I can't leave out Scott McIntyre either, he's got the cool James Taylor/Dan Fogelberg storytelling-in-song sort of style going for him.

Honestly, even though Anoop did well last night, I really don't get the whole Anoopsteria going on in the media right now. I don't think he's nearly as talented as the contestants I've mentioned. Oh well, to each his own, right?

At any rate, thats what I think of AI this year, so far. I do enjoy the show very much. Then again, I'm also a diehard 24 fan and Criminal Minds (how can you not love Garcia?) is ranking right up there with the CSIs, in my book (even though Grissom left, boo hiss). I have to go now, LOST is coming on soon and Sawyer is sure to say something to make me laugh, in his classic sarcastic tone.

My name is Carla, and I watch tv. And I like it.

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Just Nod If You Can Hear Me

I'm beginning to consider the usefulness of this blog. No, this isn't a whiney, "no one loves me anymore" post that appeals to sympathy and threatens the end of my blogging days... but it is a "is there still a place for this?" post.

Over the last several months commenting has been way down, and that's discouraging since I really enjoy the feedback. Some posts sit there for days without ever a single comment, and some never get a comment at all. I've also noticed that the actual visitors to the blog has gone way, way down from just a year ago. So, I figure either I've become really really boring and it's time to just pack it in, or folks are just reading through RSS and don't really have time to comment. I know I'm pretty bad when it comes to leaving comments on other people's blogs, so I really don't have much room to talk.

So I've added a poll today in the upper left sidebar. If you are reading via RSS, you'll have to click through to take the poll. Just trying to get a little better idea from folks that normally do read the blog, if I should keep this going or consider calling it a day.

Great Christian t-shirts and gift ideas for the whole family
reflections at zazzle too!

Chocolate Sings

You may have read this before, but a pastor friend (who warned me if I named him, he'd disown me) shared these with me recently and it really made me laugh. The funniest thing was, I read them right after Kevin brough home a chocolate bar for me, after work today. I'm not sure if he's read this, or if it's just instinct for him. In any case, enjoy!

The Hormone Hostage knows that there are days in the month when all a man has to do is open his mouth and he takes his life in his own hands! This is a handy guide that should be as common as a driver's license in the wallet of every husband. Questions from the male gender towards hormonal female rated by danger level:

DANGEROUS: What's for dinner?
SAFER: Can I help you with dinner?
SAFEST: Where would you like to go for dinner?
ULTRA SAFE: Have some chocolate

DANGEROUS: Are you wearing that?
SAFER: Gee, you look good in brown.
SAFEST: WOW! Look at you!
ULTRA SAFE: Have some chocolate

DANGEROUS: What are you so worked up about?
SAFER: Could we be overreacting?
SAFEST: Here's fifty dollars.
ULTRA SAFE: Have some chocolate

DANGEROUS: Should you be eating that?
SAFER: You know, there are a lot of apples left.
SAFEST: Can I get you a glass of wine with that?
ULTRA SAFE: Have some chocolate

DANGEROUS: What did you do all day?
SAFER: I hope you didn't over-do it today.
SAFEST: I've always loved you in that robe!
ULTRA SAFE: Have some more chocolate.

Pass this on to all of your hormonal friends and those who might need a good Laugh! Or men who need a warning. And remember: Money talks....But Chocolate sings.

Great Christian t-shirts and gift ideas for the whole family
reflections at zazzle too!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Dateline: Spring 1972

I would turn 8 years old at the end of the year, and could already name among my favorite groups Bread, America, and Neil Young. All had #1 hits that year and all would wind up eventually in the genre of music that stands the test of time and is considered by most artists, as simply brilliant music making. Not so unusual, all three are still among my favorite groups/singers.

On Saturday I had the pleasure of listening to Kasey Kasem's original broadcast of America's Top 40, replayed every week by the local classic rock station. I remember listening to this very same broadcast the first time around, every Saturday afternoon when I was a kid. This week it was 1972, and that got me to thinking how long ago that really was, even though it doesn't really feel like it was that long ago. If you say it outloud "that was thirty seven years ago" it sounds like a long time ago, and might even make you feel old.

So, since I was thinking about life in 1972, I googled around to see how others remember that year. Here were some things going on in 1972 that you might remember as well:

• Official Beatles Fan Club closes down
• The first flight of the Goodyear blimp
• Wilt Chamberlain plays his last pro basketball game
• John & Yoko are served with deportation papers
• Kareem Abdul-Jabbar named NBA MVP
• Last American combat ground troops leave Vietnam
• Olga Korbut, USSR, wins Olympic gold medal in gymnastics
• Olympic swimmer Mark Spitz becomes the first person in history to win seven gold medals.
• The Olympic Games in Munich, Germany are marred by tragedy when PLO terrorists hold the Israeli delegation hostage; 11 Israelis are killed during the ordeal.
• First TV series about mixed marriage-Bridgit Loves Bernie
• "M*A*S*H," premiers on TV
• "Sanford & Son" starring Redd Foxx premieres on NBC TV
• Richard Nixon becomes first US President to visit China
• The Volkswagen 'Beetle' becomes the most successful production model, selling over 15 million vehicles
• NASA announces development of space shuttle
• Sound recordings are granted U.S. federal copyright protection for the first time.
• "Arthur Godfrey Time" ends a 27 year run on radio
• John Lennon says his phone is tapped by FBI on Dick Cavett Show
• "Grease" opens at Broadhurst Theater NYC for 3,388 performances
• Elvis Presley records a live album at NY's Madison Square Garden
• Looking Glass releases "Brandy"
• Hurricane Agnes is costliest natural disaster in American history
• Pres Nixon signs act barring sex discrimination in college sports
• 1st women FBI members sworn in (Susan Lynn Roley & Joanne E Pierce)
• Arthur Bremer jailed for 63 years for shooting Alabama Gov Wallace
• Moody Blues release "Nights in White Satin"
• Uganda president Idi Amin throws out all 80,000 Asians
• Rod Stewart's 1st #1 hit (You Wear it Well)
• "Waltons" TV program premieres
• Creedence Clearwater Revival breaks up
• Construction begins on Kingdome, Seattle
• Nolan Bushnell (co-founder of Atari) releases Pong (the first commercially successful video game) in Andy Capp’s Tavern in Sunnyvale, California.

Indeed it was a much different world in 1972. I saw it through the eyes of a child, and still remember it that way. While it certainly wasn't an innocent time in the world, it was an innocent time for me, being just 7 years old for most of that year. The music of that era still takes me back to simple, innocent, carefree times, because for me they were.

Great Christian t-shirts and gift ideas for the whole family
reflections at zazzle too!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Going, Going, GONE

Yesterday I went to WalMart and bought a new vacuum. Now, I realize that to a lot of people this is an absolutely petty and pointless thing to blog about. It really isn't though, it's kind of a big deal.

When I got there I wasn't really sure what I wanted (essential criteria: good vacuum that doesn't cost a fortune), but the price tags on the selections helped me narrow down my options pretty quick. The first one I looked at was the UberSuperTurbo Pet Hair Vac. It had all the bells and whistles, including a magic wand that somehow de-statics your carpets for easier cleaning. I don't know a mom on the planet that couldn't use a magic wand.

It had all sorts of other features that I wasn't even aware came in a vacuum, but the most unimpressive feature was the price tag. I was having a hard time believing that all these cutting edge vac functions were really worth paying twice as much for in this vac, than you'd pay for the regular vac. So I quit looking at that one and looked at the choices in the "reasonable price tag" category. I ended up settling for the same brand I have now, just an updated version of it. Ironically, while it's the same vac I bought 4 years ago, it was $40.00 less yesterday, than it was 4 years ago. I'm not really sure how that worked out this way, but it did and I felt like I got a really good deal.

All that to say, the blessing of being able to just go to a store and buy something like this, is nothing short of incredible. I know that people go out every day and spend all kinds of money on all kinds of things, but this really isn't what it's like for most people in the world. It's not even what it's like for me, most of the time. Just two months ago we weren't even sure how we were going to meet the rent. Going out and spending money on a home appliance wasn't even something we would have begun to consider.

Here in North America we are so astoundingly blessed, and we totally miss it most of the time. Consider for a moment how blessed we are to be able to go out and buy a simple thing like a vacuum:

• To do so, implies you have a home to clean, with a carpet.
• You have a reliable vehicle, with enough money to buy gas, to get you to the store.
• You have enough money that after all the debts are met for the month, that you can spend the extra it on such things.

Why is that significant? Simply because most people around the world would truly consider those things living like royalty. You have a carpeted home and more than enough money for a car, fuel, and various extras?? Here in North America these things are considered normal, and I suppose most of us have never expected anything less in our thoughts of what "normal" living is like. House, carpet, car, vacuum... these are all common things for us.

Things are changing for us here in North America though. More and more of us are learning what it's like to go without. Some people are losing jobs, retirement funds, homes, and selling what they can to downsize and learn how to live on less. It's not an easy transition for a lot of people because they've never really known anything different.

Just yesterday I read an article in the local newspaper of my hometown that mentioned one of the most beloved state parks in my home county, is on the list of probable parks in the state of WA to be mothballed (meaning they'll shut the gates, close the public washrooms and turn off all utilities) to save money. With the gates closed the parks will be open to foot traffic only, and routine cleanup and care would be the responsibility of community volunteer crews. When I read that, I felt a real sense of sadness that the park I grew up playing in, the park we had 4th of July celebrations in every summer, the park I have such amazing childhood memories in, might be shut down due to the economic climate we're all dealing with. In the grand scheme of things it's just a park and we'll all go on with our lives, but it's yet another one of those blessings that has probably been taken for granted by a lot of folks for a long time. I know it's never once crossed my mind that this state park might someday not be there for locals to enjoy.

Blessings taken for granted? Overly-blessed with things I don't even need, never use, and have no place to put in the first place? I take a look around my house and I see more of those than I care to admit. Things, and stuff, and more things that sit here, are stacked there, and taking up space over there. Bottom line is, I have too much stuff where others don't have at all. I'm determined to downsize our Stuff Inventory, and take it all to the local Goodwill.

All that, from buying a vacuum. I can't imagine what's going to happen when I finally break down and buy my external hard drive and a UPS that I so desperately need.

Great Christian t-shirts and gift ideas for the whole family
reflections at zazzle too!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Blogging is...

Well, it's a lot of things. It can be fun, it can be depressing, it can be informative, humorous, entertaining, exciting, ugly, and everything in between. One of the coolest things about modern tech online for blogs, is the site tracker or hit meter tool. With it, you can see where folks come from, what they searched for to end up on your blog in the first place, and what they clicked on to get them outta Dodge.

I always enjoy reading over the stats to see what folks were looking around for. I used to get quite a bit of traffic from folks searching for "mowing the lawn in a bikini". No question they were highly disappointed when it turned out the post that snagged that google hit was the post about the severely obese woman mowing her front grass in her VERY small bikini. Somehow, I have a feeling that's not what folks were looking for. In any case...

Here's some of the most recent activity that stood out to me:

Seattle, Washington arrived from on by searching for "mars hill church homeschool support".

I have no way of knowing whether MHC as a church body, is supportive of homeschooling, or why such a search pulled up my blog since I'm sure I've never addressed it. I know Driscoll is known to make homeschoolers and homeschool moms the butt of jokes at times, but beyond that I'd suspect there's probably at least some HS support there? Probably best to just call them on the phone and ask! I know, it's very old fashioned but it's direct and just might work.

Charlotte, North Carolina arrived from by searching for "a prayer about teenage pregnancy" .

I sure have written about that subject lately and it's brought in a lot of folks with questions about it. I hope it's serving as a blessing and an encouragement to Christian families that find themselves in this situation.

Overton, Nevada arrived from on by searching for "carla rolfe".

Nope, never heard of her.

Little Rock, Arkansas arrived from by searching for "christian widows".

I've written on that lately as well and it's bringing in about the same amount of viewers as those inquiring about teen pregnancy in Christian families. It's a tough, tender, painful topic and I dearly hope some of what I had to say helps someone else understand, and equip them to serve better.

Brandon, Florida arrived from by searching for "MEMORIZE THE BOOKS OF THE BIBLE".

Lots of people come around looking at that rather old post, and leave by clicking on the links to the program. I hope they're using it, and it's working well for them.

And the winner by a mile definitely goes to....

Nashville, Tennessee arrived from by searching for "irrelevant things".

I actually snorted outloud when I read this. Indeed, there are lots of irrelevant things here at my blog. If Nashville is reading, do leave a comment and let me know if you found what you were looking for. ;-)

Great Christian t-shirts and gift ideas for the whole family
reflections at zazzle too!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Season of Dirt

Yesterday at the grocery store I stopped by the garden center area and bought 2 packets of morning glory seeds. I plant them on either side of the arbor at the entrance to my faerie garden, so that they climb up and around and just make a really pretty addition to the yard. The hummingbirds really love them too.

Buying the seeds got me to thinking about spring routines. Every year after the snow is all gone and it stops raining and the wind stops howling it's time to go out into the yard and clean up all the junk. This is junk that wasn't there in the fall before the snow began, but between November and March tends to blow in from wherever. It blows in from the highway, or from neighboring farms, or falls out of the sky. I'm not really sure where it all comes from, I just know it shows up and gets embedded into the snow and by the time all that melts, we're always surprised to see all the junk that needs cleaning up.

Spring is also time to clear off the deck of all the burnable trash that has accumulated. Far too often during the winter it's just too miserably cold to haul the burnable items all the way to the burn barrel, so they get bagged up and plopped onto the deck.

It's the time to set up the trampoline, the pool, wash windows, replace or repair any bird feeders that were damaged or destroyed over the winter, do the same for window screens, and finally open the doors and windows and air the house out from 6 months of being all closed up.

There are a lot of spring projects to tackle every year, but I greatly look forward to them. It's the beginning of 6 months of being outside, dinner off the barbeque, kids in the pool, beautiful song birds in the yard, fireflies in the summer and windows open. Its always a welcome contrast to the dulrums of winter, with all the family's winter gear scattered through the mudroom, doors sealed up tight, shoveling endless piles of snow, missing church due to weather, hauling wood and building fires. Oh yes, a much welcome contrast.

I can't hardly wait to get out there and plant my morning glory seeds. I think I was born to play in the dirt.

Great Christian t-shirts and gift ideas for the whole family
reflections at zazzle too!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Now THIS is HOT! (or maybe not?)

This past Friday at the annual Shepherds Conference, Phil Johnson's session on Sound Words quickly became one of the most talked (in Christian blog circles anyway) about sessions of the conference. Why? Simple, he addressed a timely topic and named currently popular pastors who are doing and saying things they ought not be doing and saying. I have no reason to believe Phil set out to be controversial in his approach simply for the sake of controversy, but regardless of how you address such things there is controversy attached to it, and controversy draws people's attention and gets them talking. It's just the way it works.

In a similar vein, I sat down last night and poured my heart out on a topic that means a great deal to me. Here's how the piece starts:

"From time to time whenever I blog about particular subjects, I get email about it. There is one subject specifically that is almost certain to generate emails and that has happened again this past week. Without going into detail or anything that would violate the privacy of the folks that email me, I want to just say a few things that are on my mind."

As I sat and wrote my key concern was Biblical accuracy and appealing to those who take sound doctrine and genuine Christian living seriously. I did what I always do when tackling a NT Biblical doctrine that is often mis-taught, and I consulted the Greek, and several commentaries and cross reference passages and verses. After writing the post I proofread it and did some editing and then saved it to draft to re-read again today before posting.

After re-reading it today, one thing stood out clear to me and that was the controversy of the subject matter. It never even occured to me last night how controversial it actually could be. Suffice it to say, I was disappointed in my own ability to take on a Biblical subject and defuse the controversy enough to write about it and have it possibly serve someone for the glory of God.

It wasn't that long ago that such things wouldn't have mattered to me at all. Controversy or not, I wrote about whatever I wanted to and let the chips fall where they may. However, about a year ago I began to notice that I was at a sort of crossroads where I found myself asking myself more and more often if what I was saying actually needed to be said, and if so, if it could be said in a way that was more encouraging than the way I wanted to say it. In other words, I began to become convicted about the old "more heat than light" cliche. Some may see that as a good thing while others might see this as a sign of becoming weak or wimpy. Truth be told, it feels pretty good to be my own best critic when it comes to these things, so if that's weak and wimpy then I'm all for it.

While I am certainly no stranger to controversy, and will indeed take it on again I'm sure, eventually, it certainly can become quite exhausting. Especially if you're involved in it all the time, either by choice or by circumstances. I know this from personal, firsthand experience during several high-tension episodes in life, including the few years that I was one of the only Christian bloggers daring to say anything negative about the Emergent Church Movement. It's rather trippy to realize that began nearly five years ago now, but I'm glad I wrote what I did and said what I did at the time. Were I given the opportunity to do it again, I think I just might pass and let someone else take something like that on. Trust me, it's more stress than most people realize, dealing with controversy all the time.

So, while Phil Johnson generated some fresh controversy with what he delivered to the Christian community on Friday (and I am in no way comparing myself to Phil, I'm just using the example since it's current) he did so with subject matter that truly needed to be addressed and called out for what it is. The controversy is the unavoidable by-product and I just hope folks truly get that.

Until I can re-draft my own post on the topic that I wish to address (I believe it's timely and indeed very important) it will sit in the draft mode. I have no desire to stir up a hornets nest unless I can do it with grace and edification. That's a very tricky balance and one I've really been striving for for a long time. It's part of why I actually blog less than I did before. It's not that I don't still write as much as I always have, it's that I am a lot more circumspect with what and how I write what I do write. I think this is a good thing, and I'm glad to be "where I'm at" right now.

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reflections at zazzle too!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

A Really Bad List of Really Dumb Clues

Next month I celebrate 15 years of living with a Christian worldview, and seeing things considerably different than I did for the first 29 years of my life. It's been a wild ride for the last 15 years and I can point out numerous areas I've grown, as well as numerous areas where I still have much growing to do. I'm quite thankful the Holy Spirit got ahold of me when He did and changed things, and I shudder to think what kind of person I might be today, had that not happened.

I suppose its because I did live for a while as an unsaved adult, that I find it rather easy to see how the world thinks certain things are funny, or okay, or acceptable. It wasn't all that long ago that I thought exactly the same way. One of those kinds of things, is how the world sees relationships between men and women. Recently, a friend linked me to a site that has a list of "18 clues he's still crazy about you". She read over the list and wondered if other Christian women found it as ridiculous as she did. Here's the list, and my thoughts on the "clues". Your opinions of these clues may vary considerably from mine.

1. When you wear a T-shirt, boxers, and socks to bed, somehow he still thinks you're cute.

I couldn't put my finger on it at first, but there was something that bugged me immediately about this "clue". Then I realized that the implication is that men will not find their wives attractive unless she's all dolled up. That one is insulting to men who don't think this way.

2. He doesn't laugh when you pronounce former hockey star Mark Messier's name as "Mark Messy-er."

Mark Who? This implies that if your husband laughs at you when you mispronounce something, he's no longer crazy about you. A bit over the top, I'd say. Not to mention, this is the kind of silly thing that countless women take seriously and end up nuerotic over. "You laughed at me! You don't love me anymore!!!" I know it sounds insane, but there are women who take these kinds of lists far more serious than they ever should. They need to learn to laugh at themselves more.

3. The only framed photo on his bureau is of you at age ten — with short bangs, cat glasses, and metal braces. (If he kept it in his wallet, you would have to kill him.)

Kev has a picture of me in his wallet that was taken roughly 14 years and 40 pounds ago. It's a pretty good picture of me wearing a dress I loved and haven't been able to wear for several kids. If he had a picture of me in my baseball team uniform at age 14, I really wouldn't care.

4. He automatically smooshes all spiders for you.

In our house I'm usually the creepy-crawly-wee-beastie-smoosher, but if it's a bee, see ya later. Indeed it is Kevin's official job in life to save me from all flying things that have stingers. If he ever stopped doing that, I would be a nuerotic mess and start reading women's magazines that had lists in them, and begin taking them seriously.

5. He tried — unsuccessfully, but he tried — to clean the rust ring his shaving-cream can left on the sink.

And if he doesn't, he's no longer crazy about you? No, if he doesn't it means he either forgot, or didn't know it was there in the first place, or was just too busy. Get over yourself woman and get in there with the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Life will go on, I assure you.

6. After you rear-ended that Lexus in the parking lot, his very first words were "Are you OK?"

That one was sort of non-sensical. You hit another car in a parking lot and he asks "are YOU ok?"?, as in "are you mental, what did you do that for"? I guess I don't get that one.

7. At this point, his wedding band is so tight, it makes his finger look swollen — but he swears he'd feel naked without it.

This one REALLY annoyed me. If his wedding band is so tight and he's so worried you'll freak out if he takes it off, then you need to seriously get over yourself and cut the poor guy some slack before he loses his finger. Ugh, what a dumb clue.

8. He doesn't try to guess what you want for your birthday — he asks your best friend.

Now remember this list of clues is supposed to be clues that say IF he does this, he's still crazy about you - meaning - that if he doesn't, he's not. So if he doesn't ask your best friend what you want, and he guesses and/or tries to pick out something he thinks you want, then he's no longer crazy about you. Ugh, another dumb clue.

9. He's incapable of putting dishes into the dishwasher but has learned to stack them in the sink.

If I were a man reading this list this one would really rub me the wrong way. See, this is supposed to be funny, tee hee he's incapable of loading the dishwasher, as if you're a pampered princess and can't touch an unrinsed dish and he's some sort of lunkhead that can't function around a kitchen appliance. I didn't think this one was funny at all.

10. He understands which old boyfriends are fair game and which aren't.

Definitely a most ridiculous clue. Ugh, and gack.

11. He doesn't "whoop!" while watching the Super Bowl anymore. OK, he does, but he's definitely cut back the whooping by about 20 percent.

Why does anyone even care if he whoops? Let him whoop, get over yourself already!

12. He'll pick up a box of tampons at the drugstore without wincing.

I wouldn't, if I were a man. It's awkward and women know it. Its even awkward for some women who've been buying them for years and years. I really don't like this list, it's SO me-centered and so "my husband is a spineless dolt he does whatever I want him to do".

13. Though you've had several kids together, he's never once announced, "We're pregnant!"

And if he did, so what? Frankly I find that statement a little weird anyway, but so what if he said that? It just implies he's happy about the pregnancy. Are we going to get uppity over this one too because HE isn't the one pregnant anyway and this is all about me, because I am the center of the universe?

14. He wears that "Kiss Me, I'm Irish" sweatshirt you bought him during a weak moment — sometimes even in public.

Okay so, if you KNOW he wouldn't ever really wear a shirt like that in the first place, why did you buy it for him? I'm thinking the lady reading lists like this and doing this stuff has some serious psychological issues in the first place.

15. He's careful never to deal with nose hairs in your presence.

Why, what will happen if he plucks one with you standing there? Nose hairs are a part of life (thankfully not mine, but someone else's I'm sure) so get a real clue, and leave him and his nose hairs alone.

16. When you drag him to sentimental movies, he doesn't sit there and snicker. (He may fall asleep, but he won't snicker.)

Why are women dragging men to sentimental movies in the first place, and why are these men going along with it? Who are these people?

17. He doesn't comment on your new haircut unless you ask him to. And then he lies.

So he's a trained puppy who lies on command! Good job. No thanks, I'd rather have a husband who feels free to comment on whatever he wants to comment on, and tells the truth. Keep your well-trained liar, I'm sure you'll live happily ever after.

18. He may forget to give you a card for Valentine's Day, but at least he understands this is a criminal offense. And he's prepared to pay the price.

This last one was just as annoying as many of the other ones. So he forgets, big whoop-dee-doo. You forget stuff too and you know it. Do you expect him to make you feel like garbage when you forget stuff? No?? Then don't do it to him either, it's just cold and spiteful.

So in conclusion...

Yes, I think it's a ridiculous list. Self-centered, man-bashing, woman-glorifying, off-balanced, stupid list of unrealistic clues.

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Friday, March 6, 2009

Phil Johnson, Fit Ministers, and a message not preached often enough in our day

This morning at the Shepherds Conference, Phil Johnson gave a message that honestly should come as no surprise to anyone who knows brother Phil and his dedication to upholding Biblical truth over and against being cool or popular. Nathan Busenitz has posted about this here, and you can already download this message here.

Phil has written and spoken about this before but this time around, he really drove home some points that needed to be driven home, BIG time. For example at 43 minutes into the session Phil says this specifically pertaining to the type of language so commonly used today:

"I keep hearing people, including some well known leaders in the evangelical movement, making the claim that it really doesn't matter how radically you contextualize the message as long as you basically get the theological facts and the doctrinal formula of the message right. And I'm convinced that's patently wrong. In fact, that way of thinking goes contrary of the whole point Paul is stressing in his instructions to Titus - your doctrine is not really pure if you yourself are not an example of reverence and dignity. If your manner of speech is lewd and profane, or if your lifestyle is characterized by the same fleshly tendencies that define secular culture then you are not a fit minister of the gospel, and you ought to step down. Paul says that very thing at the end of Titus chapter one starting in verse 15..."

It really is that clear, and yet so many try to make it so complicated. I'm convinced those that do complicate it do so for one simple reason; they want to make excuses for and engage in the very kind of speech and conduct Phil mentions here, and they want you and me and anyone else that dares to speak up against it to simply accept it and stop griping about it. Sound Biblical conduct is not their main focus, but instead they're about self-interests and self-indulgence.

In Phil's message today he does name names and I'm glad he did. He does mention Mark Driscoll (how could anyone pretend Driscoll doesn't lead the pack on this one?) and he does mention Ed Young Jr. He also mentions those leaders who turn a deaf ear to this and don't have the guts to stand up and say it's wrong.

This was a solid message against this nonsense that I've been wishing someone would stand up and preach, and I'm so glad Phil did it. While I'm sure there have been others that have in fact spoken out in this way, I just haven't heard them.

My hat is off to Phil. This truly needed to be said in exactly the way Phil said it.

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10 Grand?

I had a dream last night that I rolled up the rim to win, and I did. On my Tim Horton's rim it said $10,000. It was weird because I didn't know what to do, how to feel, or even what to do with the money.

Now, if I actually sat down and made a list of what I'd do with "found money", I could come up with a pretty nifty list of where I'd want those funds to go. But I wonder if when people come into a large sum of money like that, if that's a common reaction?

I'm curious, what would you do with 10 grand?

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reflections at zazzle too!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

What the Left Wants, The Left Usually Gets

I'm too busy lately to spend the time I'd like to write the things I'd like to write about. Brother James however, has lots to say (regarding Sean Penn's pro-gay, anti-Christian opinion) and folks really ought to take a minute and pay very close attention.

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reflections at zazzle too!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Kitties on a Blog

Life is full of little things. Little things that in the grand scheme of eternal things, really don't matter much (if at all) but sure do make the days go by a little sweeter.

One such little thing is owning a pet. For as long as I've been alive, I've been around animals (my older brother doesn't count). I was raised up with our collie Jack, and he was part of my life until we were both 12 or 13, and old age finally got the best of poor old Jack. Along with Jack, we had several other dogs, cats, guinea pigs, chinchillas, bunnies, a goose named Chuck, an iguana, a turtle and various fishies. We even had some baby duckies at one point, and probably some other critters I can't remember offhand.

After I grew up and moved out, I took my cat with me and from that time 26 years ago until now I've almost always had a pet or pets (Kevin doesn't count). When Samuel was just an infant, we got Moses the black & brown tabby. Moses was extremely cool and he was my cat, and I was his person. Then we moved out to the country and eventually Moses decided to head out and do his own thing one day, and we never saw him again. I missed him a lot, but he did what cats sometimes tend to do. After Moses was Wishbone, another black & brown tabby. Just as cool as Moses, he was a great people-cat and loved attention almost as much as he loved plain potato chips. Just like Moses though, he decided one day to do his own cat-thing and he left, never to be seen again. It's hard to love an animal and they just leave like that, but it's part of being a cat owner in the country. Sometimes they just need to go off and do their own thing, and you just have to deal with it.

After Wishbone came DJ and Pyro. We needed new cats since Wishbone's departure was an open invitation for every mouse for 20 miles to come party at our place. Living in an old farmhouse, you'd better have a good mouser or you're in for it. So, we brought DJ and Pyro home as skinny little farm kitties, and within a week they'd both earned their keep by catching mice. Not too long after that though, DJ became lazy and disinterested in us, and Pyro became the "love me because I'm cute" family kitty. A real attention-hog, Pyro loves people far more than he loves mice, but not nearly as much as he loves a fresh ham out of the oven.

We've had some real adventures with Pyro. He was stuck in a tree once for several days (I blogged about that a couple of years ago), and he's been in his share of fights with only God knows what, out in the fields. He's got enough scars and ear-chunks missing that he could be an extra in a Cat Thug movie, if they ever made one.

Last fall, Pyro went missing. We assumed he caught the Drifter Cat fever like others before him, but a week later he turned up again, with fresh scars. We were sure glad to have him back, but he was only home about a week before he went missing again. We were pretty sure that time he wasn't coming back, since two weeks passed with no sign of him. Just a few days later though, there he was again with plenty of new scars and quite a bit heavier than he was when he left. We were certainly surprised to see him, and to see him so fat! Wherever he was, they must have had plenty of mice or plenty of fresh ham. Then, about a week before Christmas Pyro left again. It was awful cold out there with temps often dropping down into the minus 20s and 30s, and days turned into weeks and no sign of Pyro. We were just hoping that he'd found shelter and food somewhere and was doing fine.

Christmas was 2.5 months ago, and we'd written Pyro off as just another loveable cat that went away, never to be seen again. That was, until this morning when Rachel screamed "MOM! Pyro is in the garage!!!" Surely I assumed it was some other black cat, and she knew I assumed that since she said "I know it's him, I checked his ear!" Pyro's ear is pretty chewed up from all the fights he's been in, and it's quite a tell-tale identifier. So, I went into the garage to see for myself, and sure enough, there was my great big fat adorable chewed up kitty, coming right for me. I must say, my heart just melted to see him.

Pyro ReturnsI don't know how long he'll be home this time, but he's sure getting lots of lovin' and attention while he's here, and he's loving every minute of it. True to form, he's also got plenty of fresh scars and missing ear chunks, but he's fatter than ever and otherwise looking good.

I'm sure glad he came home again.

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