Monday, August 31, 2009

Funniest Email Forward - EVER

We all get them. Some are cute, some are clever, most are a waste of everyone's time. Last week however, I received what just might be the funniest email forward ever (from my MOM of all people), and actually made me lol, for real. Please feel welcome to share this with as many people as you feel may need it:


Hello SunshineThis coming week is National Mental Health Care Week.

You can do your part by remembering to contact at least one unstable person to show you care. Well... my job is done.

Your turn!

Please send an encouraging message to a disturbed friend... just as I've done.

I don't care if you lick windows or take the special bus, you hang in there sunshine, you're special.


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Friday, August 28, 2009

Back to School: Child Safety

Jaycee Dugard, Elizabeth Smart, Colleen Stan. Just three names that come to mind as I read the headlines yesterday. As most readers already know, Jaycee Dugard was kidnapped in 1991 at 11 years old, and was just this week found alive after 18 years of captivity by a convicted sexual predator. I'm sure most readers remember Elizabeth Smart, kidnapped from her own bedroom and miraculously found alive nine months later. As for Colleen Stan, she was kidnapped in 1977 at the age of 20 and forced to live part of her life in a box, and as a sex slave for 7 years. It's absolutely unthinkable, and yet it happens.

When I read the headlines about Jaycee Dugard, so many thoughts went through my mind. Will she ever be psychologically healthy? How can a crime like this even be possible? Did anyone ever see her with this man and his wife, and just assume she was their daughter? What went through her mother's mind when authorities contacted her with the news?

Another thought that came to mind that I honestly don't even like to think about at all: how many other kidnapped boys and girls are currently living this same nightmare? According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children the US Dept. of Justice reports 797,500 American children are kidnapped every year, with 58,200 of those children taken by a non-family member, and 115 of them that fit the stereotypical kidnapping: "These crimes involve someone the child does not know or a slight acquaintance who holds the child overnight, transports the child 50 miles or more, kills the child, demands ransom, or intends to keep the child permanently." (source). No one really knows what happens to these kids that are never found. I can't even really give that too much thought without wanting to go hug my own kids and thank God that they are safe.

With the recent kidnapping and murder of little Tori Stafford in my own town, this kind of crime that strikes the worst fear into the heart of any mother, has hit far too close to home. My future son in law's youngest brother was in Tori's class, and just two weeks ago at Vacation Bible School, the girls met another girl that was a friend of Tori's and still wishes she would have said more than "okay, see you later" that day after school.

With summer coming to a close and kids taking busses to school and back, and walking to school as well, it's a really good time to have a frank and serious talk with them about personal safety. Even if you've had this talk before, it's never a bad idea to refresh their memories about what to do to avoid danger, and what to do if they are in danger. The material here was put together just for this reason, and I would encourage you to read all the resources there and refresh yourself and your kids about safety.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Inglorious Entertainment

If there is one topic that might get Christians stirred up, it would be the topic of entertainment. There are many forms, such as music, books and movies, and there are many preferences such as mystery, comedy or adventure. It's a gigantic subject with multiple layers and facets and variables that there's just no way one little old blog post can cover it all, and I don't intend to try.

A few days ago in conversation the new movie Inglorious Basterds was mentioned. Someone said they avoid Tarantino flicks, while someone else said they simply loved this new movie. I fall into the camp that generally avoids Tarantino movies, simply because what he's known for (over the top violence, graphic sex scenes and massive cussing) isn't what I call "enterntainment". I've seen parts of some of his movies but I don't think I've ever sat through a complete film. For me, it's just too much and I find myself feeling disgusted, embarassed that I'm watching it in the first place and quietly asking myself "okay, so why ARE you watching it?" I know it may sound silly to some people but the question begs, if Jesus were to walk into my game room and sit down on the couch with us, would we watch such movies together and enjoy them? Sometimes folks like to dance around that "silly" question because they know the answer and don't want to be accountable to it. We do enjoy our movies, don't we?

As for Tarantino's newest flick, I have not seen it and don't have any desire to. I read the plot line when it came out and had no interest. I read that Brad Pitt was in it, and had even less interest. I've never been a Brad Pitt fan, and while he's done some decent roles, he's most disgusting and creepy when playing a "bad guy" and when he's in those roles I'm rather anti-Brad Pitt.

While I have not seen this movie (and don't plan to), I did read a review that really stood out to me. Posted at Christian Spotlight on the Movies:

"Please, my Christian brothers and sisters, do not see this movie. I wasted seven dollars last night on a ticket for Ingourious Basterds, and I had to leave the theater about thirty minutes in. The violence in this movie is sickening. In intensity, it can be compared to “Gladiator” or “Braveheart,” but I found it much more offensive because it was intended comically. The audience in the crowded theater I attended laughed hilariously as men were scalped, strangled, beaten to (literal) pulp, and otherwise massacred. To me, this encouragement to laugh at horiffic war crimes was enough reason to avoid the movie in itself. However, I didn't actually leave the theater until the sex scenes began. When a somewhat graphic- and completely uncalled-for and unexpected, sex scene occurred my friends and I left the theater. Please, if you value your Christian witness and are serious about filling your mind with pure, noble, excellent, and irreproachable things, do not go to this movie." —Kira Williams, age 18

Now, opinions being what they are (highly subjective and all that), some have said that they watched the movie and didn't find it "all that bad". I wonder what that means, considering it's a Tarantino movie and he's definitely not known for any kind of restraint. Have we become so numb to this kind of entertainment that it really doesn't bother us anymore, or cause us to feel conviction at all? Not pointing fingers here, the question applies to me too, for certain. This young sister in the Lord quoted above has not only given us older believers some very sound exhortation to live according to the word, but she's also pleading with us not to wallow around in this kind of inglorious "entertainment" and be better examples of Christ in our culture.

I wonder how we'll respond?

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Take the Poll: Religious Superheros?

Earlier this morning I posted this at twitter:

"Wow, this is beyond bizarre Muslim Superheros? For real??"

The link takes you to an article about a new cartoon produced to give Muslim kids better role models (to counter jihadist role models) that exemplify mercy and generosity with "a mission to instill Islamic values in children across all faiths".

As you can tell by my tweet, my initial reaction was negative. I've put up a poll today (this is where you'll have to click thru if you're reading through a feed reader) for you to sound off on this one. Take the poll, leave a comment, and/or retweet.

I wonder if I'm the only one who thinks this is beyond bizarre?

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Newsflash: Real Christian Living Is Not for Wimps

I don't know about anyone else, but for me, the practical, daily, working out of living a Christian life that is God-honoring, looks absolutely nothing like the lovely, serene graphic you might see on the cover of one the best-selling Christian books at your local Christian bookstore. No, for me it looks a lot more like a child's black crayon scribbles all over a page, with a bright yellow sun in the top corner, smiling at you. Extremely messy, often rather hard to define... with a daily dose of comforting Light.

Every day (and often several times a day) I have to mentally stop and pray "Lord, please shut my mouth and turn my thoughts the right way. Lord, please don't let me feel so eager to verbally rip this person into a million pieces, and please help me to remember to act in grace and mercy even when my flesh feels like slapping someone across the face". Maybe the prayers don't sound exactly like that, but they are close. Very close.

Each and every day something comes up that is a challenge for me to respond to in a Christlike way. Maybe someone said something extremely rude or insulting to me - in that case the prayer is for me not to respond in kind, but to respond with grace. Maybe the kids are feeling rebellious and don't do as they're told - in that case the prayer is to speak calmly and firmly to them without losing my temper. Maybe I see a news story on tv about another heinous crime against a child that stirs up genuine rage in me. In that case I have to check my emotional reaction and temper it with as much grace and wisdom on my thoughts and words, as possible. All through the day, there are challenges and opportunities for me to grow in my sanctification. Some days are better than others, and on the days that in my own mind a complete and dismal failure, there are definitely more prayers.

In my case, I didn't come to know the Lord and His grace until well into my adult life. I'd already well-developed a pattern of worldly living, which includes worldly thinking, worldly language, worldly reactions, and every other kind of worldly thing you can think of. No, I wasn't a serial killer or a bank robber or drug addict, but I was sinner living in sin and there was much to unlearn, once the Lord got ahold of my heart. It's only been 15 years but the unlearning and the growing in grace is still just as critical today as it was on day one of my conversion.

One of the biggest challenges for me personally, is to let go of the verbal slamfests I used to be so good at. I do not say this to boast, but the truth of the matter is, I was quite the smart-mouth and quite capable of some pretty cutting, underhanded cruel comebacks, if I felt the situation required it. I clearly remember the first time I was in a situation like this after conversion to Christ and thinking to myself "wow, I can't do that anymore". I literally had to learn a new language, a new way of thinking and a new way of reacting. Let me tell you, it's NOT easy to undo 30 years of verbal blasting, and suddenly and calmly respond with grace and compassion. No, it is not easy at all and I cannot do it without God's grace. Sometimes still to this day I don't even want to do it (that's the flesh talking) and have to literally pray "Lord please shut me up, kill me now, or cause an explosion or some other awesome distraction so I don't say the worst thing I can think of right now". Thankfully, He is gracious to generally just shut me up.

Part of the reason I wanted to write about this today is because very recently I had the opportunity to be tested again in this way. All that day and evening I mulled over what I really wanted to say, how I really wanted to say it, and the honest motivations I had for wanting to say these things. I don't believe in candy-coating the truth, but I do believe that measuring out our words with grace and truth is what we are called to do. Truth I can do pretty good, but it's the grace part that I need monumental help with, most of the time.

See, it's not grace when you say "stop being such an arrogant, self-important, intellectual snob and listen to what I'm really saying". It is however grace and truth to say "I'm frustrated because I don't think you're hearing me, let's try this again and I'll try better to clarify what I mean". It's easier to say it the first way, but it's Christlike to say it the second way. This is the area I absolutely and completely must depend on God's grace for, because without it I will say things the easy way, every time. It takes far more work and effort to stop myself and depend on God's grace, to do things the right way.

The other part of the reason I wanted to write about this, is because if this blog ever does anything good in anyone's life, I hope it's to serve to be honest and upfront about what living a Christian life really looks like. Some Christian bloggers never get personal or share anything about their own personal struggles with the flesh, and thats fine. We're all called to serve in lots of different ways and what other bloggers do is very beneficial in other ways. As for me, I want people to know that living for the Lord is REAL work. You don't wake up one day a believer and skip through fields of daisies for the rest of your life. No, you wake up after conversion and you realize you are a rotten sinner saved by grace and you have multiple opportunities all day long in front of you to react and speak and think in ways that will bring glory to God. Some days you will fail. Some days you will fail a lot. Some days you will be lifted up with His mercy and you WILL weep at that great mercy He's showing you and continues to show you every single moment of every single day - knowing full well you do not deserve it.

Living the Christian life is not for wimps. Thankfully, for those times when we do wimp out and take the easy road, He's still right there to convict us of it, and continue to turn us back to the straight and narrow path. We are His workmanship, and He will continue the work in us He started. There is great comfort in those truths, especially on the days you mess up a lot.

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Pray for Rifqa Bary

I've seen a few links and mentions of this case here and there, but until last night was not able to watch this short video of Rifqa Bary. In a nutshell, she ran away from her parents house in Ohio to a church she first learned of through Facebook, because her Muslim father discovered she had left Islam and converted to Christianity, and he confronted her about it. According to Rifqa Bary, her father told her he would kill her if she didn't convert back to Islam. Fearing for her life, she ran away.

Last evening I spent some time reading many news articles and blog posts about this case, and from all the information I could gather and from what I know about Islam, there is every reason for this girl to believe that her father will do exactly as he threatened, if she does not deny Christ and embrace Islam.

A couple of things really stood out to me as I read more and more about this case. Rifqa Bary has been placed in a foster home in Florida while she goes through the court system there. There will be a hearing this afternoon to determine if she should be sent back to her parents in Ohio, or allowed to stay in the Florida system. Due to several factors in play there is every reason to believe the judge will hand jurisdiction over to the state of Ohio and the girl will be sent home.

If any other kid came forwar to the authorities and said "my dad threatened to kill me if I didn't do X" one would think that kid would be taken AWAY from the parents and placed in foster care, for thier protection and an immediate investigation into the family would begin. Even if the kid was making it up, even if the department of children's services had no evidence except the child's word, one might think threat of death would be enough to place the child in temporary foster care and launch an investigation. I don't know the laws governing the departments of child and family services in Ohio and Florida so I don't know what criteria they both follow when it comes to something like this, but logic dictates the threat of death by a parent toward a kid would be enough to move quickly to protect the kid.

In this case, it appears that this is not going to happen and I have to honestly wonder if it is because Islam is at the heart of the matter and no one wants to be accused of being politically incorrect and upsetting local Muslim communities. Since 9/11 there has been a gigantic push in the states to embrace and accept Islam (while most North Americans still do not realize that what this girl says is not only true about honor killings, but that they do in fact take place in North America and not by "extremists" but by devout Muslims that adhere strictly to this teaching), and legally stepping in to intervene in a Muslim family would be considered a step backwards in the movement to accept Islam.

It seems to me that if this girl was from any other kind of religious family that threatened death to their members if they left the religious movement, it would be a no-brainer for authorities to step in and protect the kid who left the religion. So it does make me wonder if this is all just a political play not to upset anyone in the Muslim community.

As a Christian in North America, I am free to go to the church of my choice, worship openly and freely, carry my Bible, meet with other Christians publicly, and live my faith without fear of death. This is not the case for Rifqa Bary, even though she also lives in North America. There is something very, very wrong with this.

Pray for her today. Pray for the judge in Florida who will make a pivotal decision in Rifqa's life, that may bring very serious consequences for her. Pray for wisdom and boldness for all involved the step up and do the right thing, political correctness aside.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Four Pigs and a Beagle (UPDATED)

Nope, this isn't a new sitcom coming out this fall, it's a true story about life on a pig farm!
Today just after lunch Ruth came to tell me there were 3 little piggies running around the yard. Of course I assumed she was telling me a story, since the piggies in the barn are in a highly controlled, heavily secured environment, and are never allowed out of the barn. Ever.
Not long after, Rachel came running in the room all excited and said "Mom, there's a baby piggy out back!" Well, once in a blue moon, one of them do manage to sneak out, although I'm not really sure how they do it. We've lived here 7+ plus years and it's only happened twice before, that we know of. Once several years ago, and then again just last month.

Rachel ran out to the barn to let them know they had an escapee, and of course Tulip the nutty beagle had to follow her. At this point, Tulip had no idea there was a pig there (just to the left of the truck), since she was on the other side of the truck, from the pig.

The picture here doesn't really do justice to the reaction Tulip had when the pig crossed in front of her. She sort of contorted into a very bizarre position and let out a yelp, with her back end shaking and her head cocked to the side. The piggy picked his speed a little and took off along the south wall of the barn toward the corn, while Rachel waited for someone to come to the door.

With Tulip immediately behind him!

The girls raced behind the east side of the barn to help find the pig, but without success.
All of this took place around 1 pm, and within the next few hours we indeed realized it wasn't just one little piggy, but indeed there were FOUR little piggies out there having the adventure of their little piggy lives.

As of 8pm this evening, they were still on their little farm safari, when I went out and saw them cruising along the west side of the barn along the corn line. Even later around 10, Kev and I went back out with the big flashlight and saw the little herd back all the way on the other side of the barn, along the corn line there.
I don't like to think about what will happen to them when they're finally caught and taken away, but for now, they're on a great and exciting adventure together, in the corn.
UPDATE - Four Pigs and a Beagle - The Sequel

The four little piggies were never captured yesterday, since they dashed off into the corn which makes a great hiding place.
This morning I woke up to Tulip, barking like crazy in the kitchen. When I looked out, I saw why. Our little piggy quartet had found their way into the yard, and were rooting around in the bushes under the dining room window. Here are some new shots from this morning:

We felt safe and well-protected from the vicious beasts, since Tulip was out there with us. Her strategy was to periodically run around in circles, take two or three steps toward the pigs, bark, then turn and run half way through the yard in the other direction. The pigs completely ignored her.

They were finally rounded up this morning and taken away to where they take little rebel piggies. I do hope they had fun, with their Great Barn Escape and cornfield camp out, last night. It was quite likely more fun and adventure than most little piggies in Pork Country ever have, in their whole lives.

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The Sporadic Gardener

Growing up I was surrounded by people with green thumbs. Mom always had a garden and indoor plants, grandma did too, and it seemed like all the neighbors as well. I always knew that when I grew up I would like to have a vegetable garden as well, but I was well into my late 20's before I had the opportunity to plant a real garden. That year we had beets, potatoes, popcorn (yep, we grew popcorn!) pumpkins, strawberries, and so many tomatoes that we couldn't eat them or give them away fast enough. It was a great experience that first garden, and I looked forward to the next year. Sadly, circumstances prevented me from planting the next year, and the year after that, and for many more years to come. It's been sixteen years since I've been able to plant a garden again, but this spring I did it!

I planted pumpkins, cucumbers, onions, beets, radishes, peppers, carrots and tomatoes. The radishes, peppers and cucumbers didn't turn out so well, and the pumpkins grew but then all fell off very early. Not sure what went wrong there but they're still flowering, and more pumpkins keep growing and falling off. I'll have to look a little closer into pumpkin growing and see if I can't get it right next year.

On the other hand, the onions, carrots, beets and tomatoes are doing great. I've already used some onions in a lovely scalloped potato recipe last week, and this lovely gem right here is my first ripened tomato of the season. This one is going toward a yummy BLT dinner tonight! There are lots more where this came from, but they're all still too green to pick yet. I would however like to try a fried green tomato recipe, I've heard they're quite tasty done up this way.

It's a really good thing 5 out of 6 people in this house love tomatoes, because we're going to have a real nice supply over the next couple of weeks. I'm super-happy with my gardening efforts this year, and Lord willing, I'll be able to plant another one next year and maybe even get those pumpkins to do what they're supposed to do. I was really looking forward to some fresh, homegrown pumpkin puree for some great pumpkin recipes I have. Maybe next year for that, but in the meantime, I'll just enjoy what did turn out. :-)

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Universal Health Care - Your Mileage WILL Vary (Updated)

Last week after I announced in the weekly e-flyer the newly re-designed anti-Obama shop at Reflections Apparel, an email came in with an interesting question:

"Quick question here...As a Canadian, how would you rate the health care in Canada?"

I found it an interesting question on several levels, considering I'd already been thinking about writing about this subject. Even more interesting, since I'm not a Canadian, but an American living in Canada with an American perspective on what good health care looks like. Certainly not the proposed Obamacare which is even being shot down by more than a few Canadians who have suffered through Universal Health Care and can see a mile away how much it looks just like what we have here, despite Obama insisting it isn't or won't be the same.

The problem with topics like this however, is that almost every John or Jane Q. Public opinion is subjective based largely on personal experience. Even the so-called "professionals" will report success rates and stats with a slant toward their own personal bias. Five minutes on google will yield tons of professionals that insist the Canadian health care system is a wonderful success, and tons of more professionals telling us it's a tremendous failure. Who are you going to believe?

What I have to offer is entirely my own perspective and that may not apply to anyone else, or anyone else's situation. It certainly can't be said that my personal experiences on either side of the border would be normative as far as health care goes, but I'm going to share a few of those experiences all the same. (I have decided after receiving some very concerned emails, to strongly emphasize this portion of my post. I am one person with one opinion based on personal experience and some research. I am not a professional health care analyst or any other kind of authoritative voice. I am simply a resident of Canada, and a citizen of the US, with a perspective on both health care systems that I chose to be honest about, both good AND bad. Hence, the reason for the title of the post - your mileage, whether American or Canadian and whether good or bad experiences on either side of the border, WILL vary.)

Before I do this however, I want to make it perfectly clear that this is not a case of Canada-bashing. I like Canada, I just can't stand the Canadian health care system and I'm definitely not alone. My husband, sister in law, mother in law and father in law are all Canadians and they all have their own personal grievances with this health care system. I've seen blog posts, newspaper and magazine articles and several recent youtube vids all from Canadians, that basically say the same thing: "don't believe the hype - it doesn't work as promised".

Being born and living in the states for 33 years, I definitely have an American view of what good health care looks like, and how it should work. I wish to also say that I have been greatly blessed in those 33 years in that I almost always had very good health care, minus the odd exception now and again of an insensitive or air-headed nurse here or there.

In WA state, if you need a doctor (general practice or specialist), you call one and make an appointment. In certain exceptions, you just call your family doctor and ask for a referral to a specialist in the field you need, and they'll send you right over. In Ontario, it does NOT work that way. You cannot just call a doctor and make an appointment. First, you have to find a doctor in your area that is accepting new patients. The actual "finding" of the doctor can be a rather tricky procedure. If you happen to know someone who knows of a local doctor accepting new patients, you're in a good position. If not, good luck. You can always try the Ontario Health Care Connect program, but bear in mind the results posted here, and you'll see how effective the government actually is, at matching people with a health care provider. Take a very good look at those results. In the areas reported over 12 thousand people registered with the program to be matched with a local doctor, and barely half of them were actually matched with a doctor. Keep in mind as you browse that chart, that this is a program run by the same government that brought us universal health care to begin with - and they can't even find their own citizens enough doctors?? Guess where the other half went, that didn't get matched up? Some of them did what they've been doing all along while they wait for a local doctor, and they either go to the ER for health care, or they go to the local community walk-in clinics, or they simply do not receive health care at all.

I've had some experience with these walk-in clinics, and all but one visit was a negative one. The way these clinics work is essentially this: different doctors staff these clinics on different days of the week, and it's a more or less first come first served basis. Anything "urgent" and they will tell you to go to the ER. These doctors do not know you, they do not know your medical history, and the doctor you see today will quite likely not be the same doctor you see the next time, or the time after that, or ever again. Your wait time can be anywhere from 20 minutes to 6 hours, and you will be sitting in a very small waiting room (or standing outside, which is quite common) with sick people from 2 years old to 100 years old. Coughing, sneezing, feverish, vomitting people (yep, I've seen it first hand) all jammed into a little waiting room for hours. Some folks opt to stand outside (even in sub-zero Canadian winters) and ask someone to notify them when their name is called, just so they don't have to be jammed in with sick people while they wait. Some walk in clinics are very nice, while others are quite reminiscent of pics you may have seen on tv of third world country "doctor" offices, complete with gigantic stains of God only knows what, covering the carpeting in the waiting room, and odors you can't quite figure out but are fairly certain cannot be a good thing. Oh but never fear, almost all of them have those handy little hand pumps filled with antibiotic hand wash, and optional paper face masks if you have a bad cough. I only wish I were making that up.

When I first moved to Canada and became pregnant with my now 10 year old, I had a crash course in how health care here works. Unable to locate a local doctor accepting new patients, I visited the walk-in clinic once. I waited for about 3 hours to be seen, and once seen and treated more or less like a number instead of a person, I never went back. The waiting room was indeed filled with very sick people and it was the kind of walk in clinic with the gigantic nasty stains and horrific smells. There was no way I was going to expose myself to that again. I went through that pregnancy without any pre-natal care, because the only care available to me, was at the walk-in clinic. Where the doctor didn't bother to ask me any of the routine questions you'd ask an expectant mother (I'd had 4 kids before, I knew the routine quite well), and seemed far more interested in getting me out and getting to the next patient as fast as possible. The next time I saw a doctor was 3 days before she was born. Needless to say we opted out of the "universal health care" available to us, and prayed like crazy through the pregnancy.

When I became pregnant with Samuel (and still did not have a family doctor), I went to the walk-in clinic once, and one of the receptionists told me that she was breaking the rules by doing this, but was going to give me the name of a local OB/GYN taking new patients. She did this because she said in her opinion, the doc on staff that day at the clinic wasn't someone I wanted to see. I didn't ask why as I'd been there before. The rule she was breaking was, a general practice doctor had to recommend you and she wasn't a doctor, therefore the referall wasn't considered legit. She encouraged me to call but wasn't sure if I'd be able to get in, since I didn't have a legit referral. I did call that day and was able to get in, and had good pre-natal care with Samuel. Praise God for that indeed. (Please keep in mind that I have not had the time to check the fine points of the laws, rules, policies and regs of the Ontario Ministry of Health on how all these specialized referrals work and/or how the walk-in clinics are governed, I'm just going by what the employee at the walk-in clinic told me. I assumed she knew she was breaking the rules since she slipped the name and number of the doctor to me on the sneak, and made sure I knew it was not permitted for her to be doing that).

With Ruth a few years later after we'd moved to the country, we were blessed to get a name from a friend of a friend to a fairly local doctor, and again I did receive good pre-natal care (even though that doctor moved away mid-way through my pregnancy and a new doctor took over his practice, and that doctor was on vacation the day she was born, and yet another doctor actually delivered her).

Amazingly enough, when Kev was rushed to the ER in January with intense stomache pains, everyone that heard he was rushed into surgery THAT day was completely stunned. He did receive excellent care but the shock was that he was operated on so quickly. It just doesn't work that way normally, unless you're knocking on death's door. My sister in law suffered through 5+ years of pain so intense they maxed out on the amount of morphine shots they could give her in the ER, when she would come in 2-3 times a week. She was diagnosed with endomitriosis, but because it wasn't considered "life threatening" the surgical procedure would not be covered by OHIP (Ontario health insurance) and she'd have to pay directly out of pocket for it. So, for over five years she visited the ER several times a week and lived and worked pumped up full of morphine and various other drugs. I remember the Christmas eve she layed on the floor in front of the tree crying her eyes out, from the pain. I sat down and cried with her. Oh yes, THIS is universal health care, folks. Thankfully she finally saw an ER doctor that immediately referred her for emergency surgery, while her regular family doctor would not give her the referal.

By stark contrast, the health care I received in the states was nothing like this. The same doctor that delivered me 44.5 years ago, was the same doctor I went to any time I was sick, until he retired when I was in my early 30s. During my pregnancies in the states, my family doctor referred me to the OB/GYN and after the first one had retired, I saw the same doctor for all of them. The same pediatrician treated all the kids from the day they were born until the day we moved to Canada. My doctors all knew my medical history (and my family's, since he was also my mom's family doctor long before I was born), and the kid's doctor knew their medical history - which is VITAL when you're talking about quality health care. Any time I ever needed a specialist for any reason, all I had to do was get the phone book out and call one or call my doc and ask who he'd recommend. When we had health insurance we paid that way, when we didn't, we paid the bill on installments. I know, it sounds so simple, doesn't it?

I lived in WA state for 33 years and always had a doctor, and always had access to whatever kind of health care I needed. When my late husband was diagnosed with cancer (by our same family doctor who'd also treated my husband's family members for years) and had to be referred to an oncologist (and at one point had 12 different specialists treating him, one of which was our pediatrician's husband, oddly enough) he had access to the best health care available with doctors that knew his medical history, knew his family's medical history, and were dedicated medical professionals. I've lived in Canada for 11 years and still do not have a family doctor (nor do the kids, or Kev), and do not have access to any type of quality health care unless there is an emergency and I have to visit the ER. Quite often, by the time your health is in an "urgent" state that would require you to visit an ER (with the exception of accidents of course), the prognosis is not so rosy.

So, what do I think of Universal health care? I think it's an absolute disaster that simply doesn't work the way it's proposed. I know a lot of Canadians that do not have a family doctor, and I know a few who do, and wish they could find another one - but they can't. You can't just "switch" doctors if the one you do have isn't someone you want to see, or doesn't give you the treatment you know you need. In Canada, YOU are not in charge of your health care, the government is.

For some, I'm sure it's worked out wonderfully (although I almost never hear a Canadian brag about the wonders of the health care system here, I suppose they do exist?) For many others... not so much. If the stats at the Ontario Ministry of Health's own page are any indication, half of all people registering in this program to find a doctor, get nothing - and yet they still pay for universal health care via their tax dollars just as much as the people who are matched with a doctor.

I think the numbers speak for themselves, even if the very subjective personal stories (both pro and con) may not be the standard. I fully admit that my own perspective is tainted, because I was blessed to have excellent health care in the states. I realize no system is perfect, but the current system in Canada is quite dismal, in my opinion.

In fact, it's not just my opinion. One person's perspective doesn't really mean a whole lot, unless that person happens to be someone like, the incoming president of the Canadian Medical Association, Dr. Anne Doig. Dr. Doig was recently quoted in the media with this rather urgent warning:

"We all agree the system is imploding, we all agree that things are more precarious than perhaps Canadians realize. Canadians have to understand that the system that we have right now — if it keeps on going without change — is not sustainable". (source)

So, that's what I think of the health care system in Canada. Dr. Doig seems to agree with me, and she knows the system far better than I ever could.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Wildwood Forest

Every year on the last day of VBS, I show up with my camera and take tons of pics of the kids in their various groups, and various skits. I wasn't able to do that this year since I was on my way to surgery, but thankfully on Sunday the kids came up front at church with the helpers and leaders and shared a little bit of what they did through the week at Wildwood Forest!

Ruth (blue dress, standing sideways not doing any of the motions), Rachel (green skirt) and Samuel (next to Rachel) were all up front so I just had to video this skit. :-) A great big gigantic THANK YOU for all the help from the volunteers and leaders for this year's VBS! What these folks do makes a world of difference for the kids, and we really appreciate it.

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Ciao Facebook

I have decided to get rid of my Facebook page, again. Numerous reasons, but the primary reason is that with dial up it's just too frustrating to deal with logging in, checking messages and corresponding. It sounds simple, but those few things alone take so long to do that most of the time I just end up closing my browser in frustration. Time is precious and I hate wasting it with internet sites that do not load for me. Facebook is one of the worst, in this category. It took an extraordinarily ridiculous amount of time to just log in, delete some things and close the page. Ugh.

So, I wanted to let all my FB friends know and let you know you can still find or contact me at my blog, store, twitter, #pros and the very old fashioned email.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Super Wimp Needs Prayer, Please

So, I get to have oral surgery tomorrow. It's kind of a big deal, as I'll be sedated while the dentist extracts several broken teeth that are broken beyond repair, and does some bone scraping and gum pushing and all kinds of other very icky and painful sounding things. I'm such a dental-wimp, just parking the car outside the building is painful, so I may be over reacting to how intense this surgery is supposed to be. I've known for years that this surgery was going to have to take place, but until now have not had the means to have it done. While it needs to be done, and while I'm glad it will all be over by Friday afternoon, I am really not looking forward to it at all. However, the dentist and the hygeinest have both assured me I'll likely sleep through the entire thing and won't even remember it. I hope they're correct.

Sedation kind of scares me, but it's the only way to get through the 90 minute procedure. I don't react well to sedation as it alters your perception of reality and that tends to make me a little paranoid. I'm totally NOT into altered perceptions, and I'd make a horrible drug addict for just that reason.

I've had this done once before many years ago, and was unable to eat or even open my mouth enough to get a straw in to drink anything, for several days. The bruising afterward is also rather hideous. I'm hoping recovery isn't nearly as bad as the last time.

I wish I could have inherited Super Man-type teeth, but unfortunately that is not the case. They're more like egg shells and regardless of how obsessed I am with rinsing after meals, brushing, flossing and regular dental cleaning, they just seem to dissolve and fall apart. Everyone that knows me well, has made at least one smarty-pants comment about my dental hygeine obsession. On Friday, my super awesome dentist is going to replace the irrepairable teeth with Super Man teeth, that will never fall apart the way my wimpy teeth tend to do. That's the part I'm looking forward to! I'll be able to eat many different kinds of foods that I have not been able to eat for years. Like, crunchy cheetos instead of the puffy ones, and apples! I'm pretty sure Super Man eats crunchy cheetos and apples.

So, if you don't mind, I'd like to ask you for prayer for me for the procedure. I'm rather nervous about it and I'd prefer not to be.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Yes, I *AM* Anti-Obama

The FOX news headline reads: "Anti-Obama Merchandise Surges Amid Growing Doubts Over Obama's Policies"

Yeah, RIGHTFollowing right along with the old saying "art imitates life", this is hardly "breaking news". For all of us that shook our heads in amazement and disbelief that anyone (anyone, let alone a Christian, or a thinking, conservative, red-blooded American) would even consider voting for Obama to begin with, this is definitely not news.

Believe it or not, there are A LOT of us out here that a.) wouldn't have voted for him for any reason, ever and b.) make it a habit of letting our art speak for our position. Some of us "trinket sellers" knew all along there'd be a high demand for ANTI-OBAMA t-shirts, ANTI-OBAMA bumper stickers, and more.

Who's laughing?Quoting the Washington Times article "Trinkets that stick it to Obama start to sell", the articles quote Amy Maniatas, VP of marketing at as saying "You see it as a direct response to some of the promising messages that happened a year ago. Whereas we had the campaign of Obama centered around hope, and it was a very optimistic message, now they're asking: 'How's that hopey-changey thing going?"

American Socialism, anyone?Hopey-changey indeed.

No, we're not psychic, but we saw it coming a long time ago. As an interesting sidenote, those two articles combined (as of this writing) already have over 250 comments from readers and they're only hours old.

I had very recently discontinued my 2008 ANTI-OBAMA merchandise and designs, but by popular request I've re-opened that shop with several brand new designs and a section entirely devoted to anti-Obama bumper stickers. There are a lot of people that are quite simply disgusted with the Obama administration, and for them, anti-Obama t-shirts, bumper stickers, buttons and various other items are the way to let THEIR voice be heard.

The re-designed ANTI-OBAMA shop is here, for you to be among those who are also anti-Obama and continue to exercise your right to freely express your opinion. Enjoy it as long as you can, because you just never know when that might be on the fuzzy-wuzzy, hopey-changey list as well.

(Comments are always welcome but if you happen to be ProBama, please do not expect me to engage you in a political, and/or conservative/liberal debate. If you have a ProBama position you are certainly welcome to link to that in the comment section and we'll all be glad to read that at your link.)

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Saturday, August 8, 2009

Tag You Back

Twice this week I've been tagged for a meme on FB. I've tried to respond according to the directions before, but FB just doesn't like dial up and doesn't cooperate with me. So, for those who find memes boring, just skip this.

1. What time did you get up this morning? 9:07am (I'm loving summer vacation!)

2. How do you like your steak? Well done. And I do mean WELL done. A dab of A1 on the side, please.

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? Independance Day, summer 1996. I know, 13 years since I've been to the movies. Crazy, huh?

4. What is your favorite TV show? If I had to pick only ONE, it would have to be 24.

5. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? Likely in Bremerton, but with my entire family, church family, and Kev's job too. I guess I'll stay where I am.

6. What did you have for breakfast? Frosted mini-wheats. At 11:30.

7. What is your favorite cuisine? Italian or Mexican.

8. What foods do you dislike? Seafood, most veggies, and anything curry has come anywhere near.

9. Favorite Place to eat? Las Casuelas - 368 North Palm Canyon Drive Palm Springs CA. If you're anywhere near there, try the beef chimichangas and take a seriously hearty appetite.

10. Favorite dressing? Chunky bleu cheese

11.What kind of vehicle do you drive? During the week: Chevy Cavalier, on Sundays: Pontiac Montana

12. What are your favorite clothes? T-shirts (duh), comfy pants and flip flops. Yeah, I'm not very high maintenance when it comes to clothing options.

13. Where would you visit if you had the chance? First Scotland, then Ireland.

14. Cup 1/2 empty or 1/2 full? 1/2 full

15. Where would you want to retire? Someplace warm. I'm only 44 and the cold winters here are already too much.

16. Favorite time of day? That's a tough one for me. I'm a night owl but I really love that first part of the day when you sit down with your first cup of coffee and consider the new day and your plans. Then again, I also treasure my afternoon naps. I dunno, I have lots of high points in my days! :-)

17. Where were you born? Bremerton WA

18. What is your favorite sport to watch? Does destruction derby count? If yes, then that's it. If not, it'd be baseball.

19. Who do you think will not tag you back? No idea and doesn't really apply since I broke the rules and blogged it instead.

20. Person you expect to tag you back first? See #19

21. Who are you most curious about their responses to this? Everyone, but no one will reply because no one comments at my blog anymore. Ever. I'm a boring loser apparently. (at least my kids still think I'm fun!)

22. Bird watcher? Oh yes indeed! Kev and I got into birdwatching about 10 years ago and we teased each other about taking up an "old people" hobby. He's still older than me, so I get away with it. :-)

23. Are you a morning person or a night person? Mostly a night person I suppose.

24. Do you have any pets? Yes. Tulip and Dougal (dogs), Pyro, Swiffer and DJ (cats), Rusty (bird). DJ is currently MIA and has been for about 3-4 days now. The smaller people who live in my home are trying diligently to get me to agree to bringing in a replacement, in the form of an 8 week old kitten. It is seriously tempting, but the jury is still out. Like DJ.

25. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share? New? No. Exciting? Yes, my daughter is getting married in 49 days! And I still don't have a dress. Her future mother in law and I are going shopping VERY soon together, since she doesn't have hers yet either. What is wrong with us, that we've put it off THIS long!? Oh yes, we both hate shopping, that's the problem.

26. What did you want to be when you were little? Taller. As for a profession? Well, for a while I wanted Marlin Perkin's job (Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom), then I wanted to be Mary Poppins. Oddly enough after growing up and having 7 kids, I pretty much nailed both jobs.

27. What is your best childhood memory? I have lots, but I think my favorite ones are the summer trips we took with grandma and grandpa. Adventures with family, it just doesn't get any better than that.

28. Are you a cat or dog person? Cat.

29. Are you married? Yep, to Kevin.

30. Always wear your seat belt? Always.

31. Been in a car accident? In one serious one, and hit by a car once too. I don't recommend either. It hurts, a lot.

32. Any pet peeves? Tons, where shall I begin? Smart cars that look so stupid. People who seem to think insulting other people with lofty vocubulary makes them any less of a knob than the person who just blasts off without thinking. It actually makes them more of one, since they have to take the time to consider which high priced insult they want to use. I'll stop there, before I get myself into trouble.

33. Favorite Pizza topping? Italian sausage.

34. Favorite Flower? Carnations.

35. Favorite ice cream? Bergundy Cherry from Baskin Robbins.

36. Favorite fast food restaurant? Wendy's - big bacon classic. Yumbos!

37. How many times did you fail your driver's test? None.

39. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card? My own!

40. Do anything spontaneous lately? I bought the kids a dvd I wasn't planning on buying. Does that count?

41. Like your job? Do I have a job? I am a wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, student, designer, wannabe writer, wannabe photographer and soon to be mother in law as well. I LOVE what I do, in every hat I wear. I am amazingly blessed far beyond what I deserve.

42. Broccoli? Gross. Except for in my sister in law's incredible broc-bacon-onion salad. Its the only way I'll eat it.

43. What was your favorite vacation? That's a tough one. My first trip to Disneyland was pretty amazing. My 3 week road trip out west was a blast. The year we went to Pixieland was quite memorable as well. I don't have a favorite, they all have their own special memory place.

44. Last person you went out to dinner with? Kevin and Rachel.

45. What are you listening to right now? The sound of the water splashing into the pool from the pump.

46. What is your favorite color? Bergundy.

47. How many tattoos do you have? A month ago I would have said none. However, my dentist told me that blue spot on my gums is like a tattoo from an old filling. How weird is that?

48. How many are you tagging for this quiz? No one. I'm just rambling away, into the bloggy wind.

49. What time is it? 12:52am

50. Coffee Drinker? Um... well... yeah, kinda.

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Friday, August 7, 2009

Rainy Day People

Not too long ago I read a short piece about a cancer spouse (in case it's not obvious, a cancer spouse is the husband or a wife of a spouse diagnosed with cancer) and how they described what it feels like to be in that position. If you've never been there you don't like to even imagine what it might feel like, and if you have been there this may feel very familiar to you.

In the case of a cancer spouse, there can be a lot of feelings of lonliness, and a sense of isolation in that you may feel like no one understands what you're going through. This feeling is only compounded when well-meaning but frustrated friends and family keep their distance because they either don't know how to help or bring comfort or what to say, so it's easier to just stay away. They often comfort themselves that they're doing this because "they probably just want to be left alone anyway". Quite often for people struggling through a painful time, nothing could be further from reality.

When I read this piece I couldn't help but think about how people act in a more general sense. It doesn't have to be cancer, it can be a job loss or the personal struggles with family relationships, or maybe even some other kind of trial. In general, many people will keep their distance from struggles and trials of other people. Its not that they just don't care, it's that these are difficult things to deal with and most folks aren't too fond of difficult. Folks have their own lives and their own struggles and sometimes that is more than enough for them to deal with, without getting involved in the business of other people. There is some wisdom in this.

While I was reading this article the other day, I couldn't help but think of the song by Gordon Lightfoot called Rainy Day People. Here's the song:

Rainy day people always seem to know when its time to call
Rainy day people dont talk, they just listen till they've heard it all
Rainy day lovers dont lie when they tell ya they've been down like you
Rainy day people dont mind if youre cryin a tear or two
If you get lonely, all you really need is that rainy day love
Rainy day people all know theres no sorrow they cant rise above
Rainy day lovers dont love any others, that would not be kind
Rainy day people all know how it hangs on a piece of mind

Rainy day lovers dont lie when they tell you, they've been down there too
Rainy day people dont mind if youre cryin a tear or two.

Rainy day people always seem to know when youre feeling blue
High stepping strutters who land in the gutters sometimes need one too
Take it or leave it, or try to believe it
If you've been down too long

Rainy day lovers dont hide love inside they just pass it on
Rainy day lovers dont hide love inside they just pass it on

For me, it's pretty hard to hear a message like that (even in a pop song from yesteryear) and not think about what being a Christian is supposed to look like. Being a Christian is supposed to look like Galatians 6:2 which says "Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ." Whether intentional or not, Gordon Lightfoot gave a pretty accurate definition of what carrying one another's burdens is supposed to look like. Investing in the lives and the well-being of others means you're tuned in to what's going on with them, and you take the time to listen to them. You've been there too, so you know how much a compassionate ear makes all the difference, and you stand with that person through the hardest of times.

In the Christian community, lonliness and feeling isolated should just never happen, no matter what is going on. Our own lives should never be so busy that we have zero time for those in times of struggle or trials. If you know someone today who needs a compassionate ear, a phone call, a visit or a hug, go and be their rainy day person today, and bless their heart.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

When Lightning Strikes

The weather forecast today said 60% chance of thunderstorms. No big deal, that's a typical southern Ontario summer forecast. What they neglected to mention, was that the forecast would change to SEVERE t-storm alert, and that the lightning would be frequent, intense, and hit a tree by our house:

The pictures don't really capture the amount of damage done to this tree, or the whole path of damage. It looks like the lightning struck all the way at the top, traveled down then took a turn about halfway. There are very large chunks of this tree (the pieces formerly attached to the tree) about 50 feet in every direction, and smaller pieces all over the place. It was pretty amazing to see close up, what lightning can do to a tree. It was also purely God's mercy it didn't hit one closest to the house, or hit the house.

This one is split in half now, so it'll have to come down just like the last one demolished in a storm (that one was an ice storm in March). I wish I knew a local chainsaw carver who could come and turn these stumps into something awesome, like an eagle landing or a heron standing on a perch. That would be cool. :-)

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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Happy Birthday Jessica!

Happy Birthday Jessica!
It's hard to believe my little Jessica is 19. It's hard to believe any of my older daughters are as old as they are, since they're all my babies, still. Today we celebrated Jessica's 19th birthday, even though her actual birthday is still a week away. Around here, we have family celebrations when it fits into everyone's work/school schedule and the bigger our family gets, the harder that is to plan a family event. We do manage it though.

Nineteen years ago I was suffering through a 9+ month pregnancy in the midst of a heatwave in Bremerton, WA. Jessica was due on 7/31, but we joked around about her hearing me scolding the older kids that summer, and she figured she would just stay right where she was, and stay out of trouble. The entire nine days she was overdue, the temps were well above 90 degrees and it was the worst time to be pregnant and overdue. The day after she arrived the heatwave broke and it was the best time to come home with a brand new baby. It feels like it was just yesterday, and now she's a mother herself.

Here's some shots of today's fun:

Cinnamon Caramel Coffee Cake

Yes, it's as good as it looks. Amazingly enough it really isn't very sweet but light and cinnamony.

Jessica and Rachel

Just two farm girls sitting on the kitchen porch steps

Kevin and Joost

Kev and Joost being silly, as usual

Jessica, Hailey and Joost

When Hailey didn't like being put down, grandpa took her for a walk out to the corn, which apparently was rather fascinating. After the stroll to the corn, grandpa brought her back inside and put on a Dutch progressive rock/jazz cd for her, which she apparently loved. Miss Hailey already has grandpa completely wrapped around her finger, but he wont admit it, yet. :-)

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Saturday, August 1, 2009

Homeschooling v. Public Schooling: Its NOT Black and/or White

I never really gave a whole lot of thought to the idea of being in this position again. I'm sure somewhere in the back of my mind I thought to myself "some day the kids will be back in a public school setting" but I'm quite sure I never entertained how that really feels, until now. If you've ever been in the homeschool v. public school (very heated) debate, you probably already know how it feels. In some ways I hesitate to write about this due to the heat this subject can sometimes generate, but I think it's important for parents in the decision making process to hear as many voices as possible, and especially those with at least some hands-on experience in this field. That was the kind of advice I looked for before Kev and I made the decision to homeschool, because it's the folks who have been there that know what they're talking about.

As much as I firmly believe homeschooling is the best option for Christian kids, I also realize that there are limitations, and that it's not the best option for every Christian kid, 100% of the time. I've always maintained that, even during my most vehement anti-public school arguments. I think it's probably more accurate to say that Christian homeschooling is the best option for Christian kids, in the best of situations. Not every parent out there lives in the best of situations or has vast resources or uninhibiting circumstances; but for those who do fit that criteria, homeschooling is the best choice. I know some would say this is a sort of waffling defense of a position, but I'm perfectly at peace with it, after having homeschooled five different kids with five very different learning abilities, disabilities, strengths, weakenesses and gifts, for nearly 10 years from kindergarten all the way through grade 11. I don't know that this "officially" qualifies me for any kind of authority or anything, but it certainly does give me a perspective and some experience that I didn't have 10 years ago.

Recently I was directed to an article by Voddie Baucham entitled "The Top Five Reasons Not to Send Your Kids Back to Government Schools". It's a bold title, indeed. There is in fact no shortage of articles out there with bold titles either in favor of homeschooling or in favor of being anti-public school. I've even written a few of both kinds, myself.

There is much to agree with in Mr. Baucham's article. Depending on your experience you may read this piece and find yourself nodding your head in affirmation of the way he describes what public (government) school are like. From the curriculum to the social interaction to the blatant anti-Christian/pro-secular humanism approach to teaching. Likewise, from your experience you may also read this piece and have strong disagreement, because you live in a blessed school district that takes a vastly different approach. This is where blanket statements about such things as "all public schools" can be misleading. I have certainly never been to "all public schools" but I am quite certain that while many of them are the same, many of them are also quite the contrary to the horrible (but accurate, in many cases) picture Mr. Baucham paints. The same can also be applied public school teachers and administrators themselves. For those of us that went through public schools (which would be most of us), we all remember the good teachers, the lousy teachers, the ones who left a lasting impact on us, and the ones we even knew as kids, should have been fired on the spot. As much as Mr. Baucham would have us believe ALL public schools are the same, that simply is not true, any more than saying ALL public school teachers and staff are the same. I would like to point out that it's just as inaccurate and unrealistic as implying all homeschooling is the same, when every homeschooling parent knows that is simply not the case at all.

Mr. Baucham writes:

"Of course everyone says, “Our schools are different.” News flash... that’s a lie! One of our elders taught honors math at one of the “best schools” in one of the “best school districts” in Texas (you know, one of those schools people lie and cheat to get their children into so that they can get a better education). His advanced geometry class was filled with a bunch of imbeciles who could barely do basic arithmetic. As a result, most of them failed their first major test. You know what happened next. That’s right, the principal called him into the office and told him to make things right. One of the things he was told to employ was a grading technique called “Square root times ten.” Thus, a student who made a 49 on a test ended up with a 70 in the grade book (for those of you who went to government schools like me, that’s the square root of 49 times ten)."

If you say "our schools are different", either you're lying or you're deceived? What if your local public school is in fact, different? It's entirely possible, but Mr. Baucham makes it appear as if this kind of dumbing down is going on in EVERY public school. Is that true and accurate for all public schools nationwide based solely on the report of one of Mr. Baucham's elders who taught a class full of "imbeciles"?

Mr. Baucham goes on to say:

"Please don’t buy the lie. Your child’s school is probably terrible. If you really care about the stewardship of you child’s mind, don’t send them back to the worst schools in the industrialized world next year."

This was hard for me to read, especially since I read it just days after returning from a meeting with the local public school principle, and having a very open and frank discussion with her and a tour of the school. Is the school perfect? Of course it's not, there is no such thing. However, I also met many of the teachers and watched the interaction between teachers and children (we were there just before school let out for the day) and noticed something quite impressive. It was a very open and friendly environment, and many of the kids were eager to speak to the teachers and be around them. Of course this doesn't mean it's the best school in the world, but it does mean that these are dedicated adults striving to make a positive impact in these children's education and that these kids know these teachers and staff care, and they appreciate it. By and large, public school teachers acutally DO care about the kids they teach. Teaching is their passion and helping those kids reach their potential is a joy. I know this because I am also a teacher at home and I know that passion and joy.

I confess this was also hard to read because I have a child with learning disabilities that would have failed that math test Mr. Baucham refers to, and wonder if he'd call her an imbecile as well? At the school she'll be attending this fall, they have a Learning Resource classroom with a dedicated teacher for those kids that have these kinds of challenges. They don't "dumb down" anything but they work with the kids one-on-one with the same material the rest of class is doing, to help them where they struggle. Anyone with more than one child knows that not all kids excell at the same subjects, and what may come easily or naturally to one child, may prove impossible or deeply frustrating to another. Failing a math test doesn't mean they're imbeciles. I failed plenty of them in public grade school because math did not come naturally to me at all. I had to work very very hard to grasp mathematical concepts and even then, I still failed tests. Many kids are the same way, in various subjects. Many adults are, as well.

Mr. Baucham goes on to say:

"The headlines speak for themselves. Student-teacher sex scandals, student-student sex, immodesty, foul language, drugs, alcohol, radical homosexual agendas, teachers taking students for abortions, “sexting”leading to suicide, sexually transmitted diseases, brutal beatings, and school shootings (see These are just some of the headlines that have become the norm. And that does not include things like cheating, disrespect for authority, impropriety towards the opposite sex, and other moral behaviors children learn regularly and repeatedly in school."

While this is no shock to any parent who reads the daily news, it's most certainly one-sided, and I think we all know that. This is a description of some of the very worst aspects of some of the very worst public school settings - but - does it define EVERY public school? I don't believe that it does, I believe that these are simply the worst of the worst, based on today's headlines. It would be interesting to read that same paragraph if it were re-written to speak of the best of the best settings in public schools, and see how the two stack up. I believe it to be unfair to categorize and broadbrush this way, as if it speaks for all public schools.

In Mr. Baucham's number #1 reason not to send your kids back to government schools this fall "THE BIBLE COMMANDS CHRIST-CENTERED EDUCATION"

he says this:

"I recognize that educational antinomianism is the norm in the modern American church. According to the common refrain, “It doesn’t matter what educational choice you make... you just have to pray about it and do what the Lord leads your family to do.” However, I must confess I find this this concept disturbing on a number of fronts. First, this kind of thinking denies the sufficiency of Scripture. The Bible speaks either directly, or principially to every aspect of life. There are no grey areas. Sure, there are things that are difficult to discern, but education is not one of them. Though you won’t find the word ‘education’ in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, there are a number of passages that speak directly to the issue of training ourselves and our children intellectually, spiritually, philosophically and morally (See Deut. 6:6,7; Prov. 1:7; Eph. 6:4, etc). We also have numerous warnings against allowing others to influence us intellectually, spiritually, philosophically, and morally (Psalm 1; Rom. 12:1,2; 2 Cor. 6:14ff; Col. 2:8, etc.).

Second, this line of reasoning smacks of mysticism. Instead of making an argument with an open Bible we dismiss all opposition with the flippant, trite, overused, and theologically problem-laden phrase, “we prayed about it and this is what the Lord told us to do.” The lord ‘has spoken’. (Heb. 1:1-2) We are not awaiting new revelation. Instead of doing what the Lord ‘told us’, Christians are commanded to do what the Lord ‘has told us’ in his Word."

Mr. Baucham would have us believe that educational choices for our children is NOT one of those things that (biblically) is difficult to discern. Mr. Baucham would have us believe that choosing to send our kids to a public school is us (as parents) denying the sufficiency of Scripture and dabbling with mysticism via being led by feelings. Mr. Baucham would have us believe that training our children in every aspect of education can only be done by the parents, in a Christian homeschool setting or maybe a private Christian school setting. Mr. Baucham has essentially declared that Christians are commanded by the word of God to homeschool or place their kids in private Christian schools.

This is very disturbing argumentation indeed. It's exactly the kind of argumentation that I read before I made the choice to homeschool, and caused me (for a time, anyway) a very unbalanced and unfair impression of ALL public schools, and a very impossible expectation of myself as a homeschool teacher. While many public schools are indeed bad places to send kids, not all of them are, as many Christian public school parents will attest to. While Mr. Baucham would have us believe that educational choices is not at all difficult to discern, the fact of the matter is, Christian parents struggle with this decision constantly. Some of us know our limitations as educators, some of us know our financial limitations, and some of us know that it is simply not possible to be the "one" person to provide a well rounded education for our children. Mr. Baucham suggests Christians that send their kids to public schools deny the authority and finality of God's word and instead partake of the mystic "but the Lord led me to this" flight of fancy. I don't think Mr. Baucham has any idea what many Christian parents go through before making these kinds of decisions. The amount of research involved, the amount of prayer, study, and more prayer. Counsel from pastors, fellow believers in their churches, discussions with teachers and more prayer, and more study and an honest assessment of their own teaching abilities and financial situation. Indeed it is not an easy decision to make and there are numerous factors involved. None of which, for the dedicated parent and believer, are mysticism.

Finally, Mr. Baucham seals his argument with appealing to "God has commanded we do it THIS way". What then do we make of all the Christian parents we know that are disobeying God's command? Are they in sin, and do we all need to call them to repentance for such blatant disobedience? Hardly.

My husband and I have studied this issue from Scripture and no where in the text will you ever find a commandment that you alone are to be the only person to educate your child. You will find that as their parents YOU are responsible for their education, and if that means picking and choosing the best teachers for them in areas such as math or science, English or music, then that is what you are obligated to do, to give them the best education you can. You are obligated to train them up in the ways of God, to teach them who He is, who they are before Him, and what His word says. You are responsible to give them a solid Christian understanding of Biblical doctrine, and even that often requires additional teachers such as their Sunday school teachers and pastor. There is absolutely nothing in Scripture that says you and you alone are responsible (or will even be capable) of providing every aspect of a well rounded education for your child, or children.

Clearly this is a subject very near and dear to my heart. While I'm sure it's also near and dear to Mr. Baucham's heart, I believe he has some blind spots on this subject, and his argumentation is somewhat unbalanced. If you are a Christian parent in the process of making these kinds of educational decisions, please do yourself the favor of reading BOTH sides of such arguments, study the Scriptures, make it a matter of diligent prayer and get as much advice as you can from people who have been where you are. It isn't an easy decision to come to, but it must be one that is best for your family, and your circumstances, and best serves the child's educational needs.

In an ideal world, each of our local churches would get together and provide the best possible alternative in a local church run school where all our children's teachers would be dedicated believers. Being genuine servants all the teachers and staff would serve without expecting anything in return, and being recipicients of the blessing the parents sending their kids there would bless those schools and the entire staff with financial gifts (you know, taking care of our own, the way we're supposed to be doing all along) - but not one family would be turned away for not being able to pay a tuition.

We don't live in that world however, and we have to make the best choices we can, with what we have.

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