Thursday, July 30, 2009

My World (through my lense)

My routine at home hasn't been very routine at all for the last few months. Kev's workplace put him back on a rotating shift (days and midnights) so it's been very out of whack for me at home. When he's on the night shift I can't sleep, so we've missed more than a few church services during those shifts, and that bothers me more than anything else. One of the smaller things that have changed is my nightly stroll around the yard and just being outside and taking in the fresh air and gorgeous summer, country scenery.

Tonight I decided to bag all my chores for 30 minutes or so and just take my camera outside and take a nice leisurely stroll around the house, just before sunset. Here are a few things I saw:

Rachel's Flower Rachel and I both planted many flowers this year. It was her first flower garden and she was quite excited to plan the whole thing out. I picked the spot for her but she did the tilling and the weeding, and then she did the planting.

The young lady that takes care of the outside of the property came along with her weed killer one day however, and not realizing I had planted flowers around the base of the birch trees, sprayed a liberal amount of weed killer there, and that was the end of my flowers. Rachel's on the other hand, are doing quite well and she has new blooms about to open up any day. She's very proud of her very first garden, and I hope she learns to love it as much as I do. I also plan to make or buy little signs and stick them where I plant my flowers next year, so they remain safe from the weed killer!

Mom's Apple Tree Next on my tour was the apple tree just outside the dining room window. This little guy has gone through quite a few scary times of almost not surviving, but it just keeps bouncing back and producing apples for me every year. Kev took me to the nursery 9 years ago for Mother's Day, and when I saw the Yellow Transparent tree, I almost cried. This is the kind of apple tree my gma and gpa had in their backyard when I was a little girl, and they're my favorite apples in the whole world. They make the best apple pie, apple crisp, apple sauce, and are even pretty awesome just eating right off the tree! I can't recall how many times my brother and I ate way too many of these apples (after being told not to, of course) then regretted it later. We never regretted it enough to stop us from doing it again the next year, however - they're THAT yummy! The heavy winds we've had during stormy weather in the last few weeks have blown a lot of them off the tree, but I think I'll still have enough to make at least one pie in the next couple of weeks or so.

Mr. Toady While standing near the apple tree admiring it, this lil feller was hopping around in the grass next to me. Of course all the kids were quite happy to see him, as they sort of make it their mission to go outside and look for toadies in the grass. We have quite a lot of them here, but I hadn't seen one for a few weeks, so maybe they were on vacation or something. Our insane beagle Tulip is rather freaked out by them, but she still tries to catch them then yelps and jumps back when they hop away. She was out there with us, so I had to get one of the kids to scoop the toad up and relocate him to another part of the yard while Tulip was distracted. Rachel was reading recently in an animal encyclopedia and insisted the markings on this toad make her a Mrs. Toady, not a Mr. Toady. I didn't see the markings she pointed out, so I'll just go ahead and call him a Mr. and hope Rachel doesn't read my blog any time soon. :-)

That concludes this evening's stroll around the yard. It was a beautiful summer evening, and I'm glad I ditched chores long enough to enjoy a little slice of it.

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*snicker

Sometimes, I sit at my computer and just laugh. Go see why.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Impressions

When I was a little girl, I can clearly remember being frustrated that I was too short to open the cupboard door and get my own glass for a drink of water. We had a little wooden step stool in the bathroom that my brother and I would use to reach the sink to brush our teeth, that I'd bring to the kitchen to get to the cupboards.

Then one day I realized I no longer needed the step stool as I reached up to the cupboard and was able to reach my own cup. What once seemed to me from my little girl perspective to be the tallest cupboards in the world, no longer seemed so tall.

I thought about this last night, as I thought about a recent conversation I had regarding perspective. Depending on various factors, one person may have a certain impression of you, while another person may have the complete opposite impression. Interestingly enough, it may not have a single thing to do with how you conduct yourself or the words you use, but may be entirely based on that person's preconceived ideas, traditions or personal set of character criteria standards. In other words, what they see may not necesarrily be an accurate representation of what is actually there, who you are, or what you really believe.

In one recent conversation, I was told that I have the opinions I have about certain things because in that person's view, I am "overly conservative". I don't know about you, but when I hear that label I think of someone who maybe doesn't watch tv, doesn't buy pre-packaged foods (ever), doesn't keep up to date on the latest fashions or trends and keeps old traditions and insists everyone around them keep them as well.

Maybe that's not a very accurate description of overly conservative, and maybe there's really nothing wrong (for the most part) with a person who behaves like this (I have a fondness for old fashioned, it's true), but it certainly isn't me. Probably a more accurate definition of overly conservative is someone who dabbles a bit with legalistic opinions about things? I'm honestly not really sure, it's one of those labels that eludes me.

In any event, the reason I was given this label is due to my opinion about the cultural shift that has made private things (sexual matters) public, and using graphic words and descriptions to discuss private things in a public format. I don't know that there is an age-limit-line, but it would seem to me that for the most part it's folks over 40 that think the way I do on this matter, and folks under 40 are more prone to accepting this whole "let it all hang out, baby" attitude about private things. The irony of that is I'm at the latter end of the aging hippie era where letting it all hang out was the norm, and yet I've never held to that even as an unsaved heathen.

While I have no objection to discussing private things, I do think those kinds of conversations should be private discussions. While I also have no objection to using detailed descriptions of things when needed, I also think there is a line of discretion and propriety that should be taken into consideration so as to not cheapen or make a joke of such things. I guess this is what makes me overly conservative. I was hoping it made me mature and thoughtful, but apparently not.

In this person's perspective (based on their own criteria plus the influences and examples that have shaped their own thoughts) this is the impression they have of me.

In another situation not very long ago, another person shared with me a very very different impression they have of me, which in some ways is rather the opposite of discretion, discernment and propriety. I find this mind boggling since if anyone were to hear these two impressions you'd be certain that two different people were being spoken of.

When I thought about the cupboards in my kitchen when I was a little girl, it occured to me (obvious, I know) that those cupboards never changed at all - what changed was my perspective. They were the same cupboards when I was 5, that they were when I was 10 but I saw them differently based on my own viewpoint, literally. The same can be said for me; I am the same person being defined by these two seperate people, but the way they see me is completely different. In many ways this reminds of me when I was first questioning the whole free will teaching. I was accused of being a Calvinist (and I hadn't even heard the term before) by the folks in my church, but accused of being an Arminian by others who obviously held a Calvinistic view of soterieology. Opposing opinions were shaped by various factors and influences, yet I was seen as two completely opposite people.

While I very strongly believe the impression you leave with others is important (and one you should take very seriously, if you're a believer calling yourself after His name), I also realize that sometimes no matter what you say or do, some folks just think whatever they're going to think. Its interesting that the older I get the more real my mom's wisdom is to me, as she told me once when I was a teenager and being falsely accused of something pretty aweful. She said to me: "all you can do is what you know to be right, but you cannot control what other people think of it". It was a profound statement at a painful time, and I've remembered it ever since.

I know I'm not the first person to deal with this, as our Lord suffered through much worse false accusation and faulty impressions in the minds of others. I know countless believers have suffered and died as a result of false accusation and erroneous impressions others have of them.

I know my situation is petty and insignificant compared to these examples... I just wish it didn't feel so discouraging.


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Monday, July 27, 2009

A Season of Thanks (in July!)

I don't know what the weather is doing where you are, but here in Southern Ontario, nearly everyone is saying the same thing.

WHERE IS OUR SUMMER!?


So far this season we've had a few days of very warm temps, but for the most part it's been around the mid 70s (no idea what that is in celcius, I'm an American! and too lazy to check the thermometer) with a lot of rain, a lot of clouds, and not a lot of summer-like weather.

I thought about this as I was driving home from running errands today, and heard the local dj on the radio complaining once again, about the weather. I thought to myself "but wait, is it really all that bad?"

No it's not the hot, sweltering, jump in the pool before I die weather, but here's a short list to help keep it all in perspective:

• While you're complaining, you're wearing flip flops and shorts. Try that one in the traditional February Deep Freeze, eh buddy?

• You know when you get up tomorrow, shorts will likely be what you put on again. Not your flannels, fleece, hoody, long pants & wool socks.

• When you want to go some place, all you have to grab on your way out the door are your car keys. You don't need your hat, scarf, gloves, boots, winter coat and ice scraper. Or your cold meds, Halls and chapstick.

• You can get out of your driveway without shovelling. You may have to move a bike or a skateboard, but those generally don't induce heart attacks.

• Your windows are open and no one's complaining of hypothermia.

• You haven't had to haul firewood or turn the heat on for months now. You've also saved a fortune in hydro, since you're not using your a/c.

• There's still 2 months of summer left. If you close the pool when school starts, THATS when it'll be hot for 2 weeks straight. Leave the pool until Canadian thanksgiving!
• The ice has been gone for months now, and you can't skid off the road because of the thick clouds.

So, while we haven't really had the super-hot summer days yet I think we'll all look back at this summer come about mid-March (when we're all going insane and detest the sight of another snowflake), and remember that we had it pretty good.

There's always something to be thankful for. :-)


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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Photo Album Family

"Family means having a heart full of fond memories & gathering together for summertime picnics and holiday traditions. They give you hope and comfort and are always there with open arms. It means having a lifetime of history together. Family is where unity begins. Cherish the love forever. Always together, forever."

I read that yesterday and thought it was a nice, warm fuzzy definition of a family bond. The ironic thing about it however, is that it was on the cover of a photo album which contained pictures of family members that are now divorced and have no contact with each other. The step-children have no contact with each other, and their kids are growing up not knowing their step-cousins, and what was once a seemingly strong family bond is now a group of strangers that might not even recognize each other if they passed on the street.

This got me to thinking about what family really is, and the various definitions of that. If you think about all the different kinds of families there are, it can be a bit overwhelming. Some families are the traditional mom, dad & kids, while other families are headed up by a single parent, or a parent and grandparent, or no parents at all and the grandparents are raising the grandkids.

Another family definition is the relationships of like-minded people that bond together. Such as a Christian family, or a group of bikers that have been riding together for years and years, or any other group of like-minded people that gather together and enjoy one another's company. We often call one another "family" even though we're not related biologically.

The description of "family" that I read on the cover of the photo album is fairly accurate, on the best of days, in the best of families. However, it really isn't all that accurate in reality. In real families, there are times of stress, times of extreme disagreement, rebellion, denial, arguments and more. That doesn't really make for a nice looking photo album cover though, does it?

In reality, nearly every day, someone in the family might say something or do something that doesn't fit well with someone else in the family. It may be small or insignificant (such as licking the knife then sticking it back into the peanut butter jar - eww, GROSS!) or it may be huge, like announcing they've decided to deny the faith they were raised in. The latter is a reality for many Christian families and a most heartbreaking situation.

How do we deal with these things? Do we rant and rave, scream and yell, throw our hands up in the air and/or run out the door? Well, some folks certainly do that, but it doesn't really resolve anything does it? While sometimes it's good to put some distance between ourselves and the stressful situation (time to think, time to pray, time to address the situation with a cool head), reacting with high emotion like that is never useful.

Instead, I believe in a family (of any kind) the best response is communication. I know a million books have been written on the importance of this aspect of relationships, but that's because it is critically important for healthy relationships. What I mean by that is not just talking, but really hearing what the other person is saying. I was talking with a pastor friend about this just the other day and I really liked what he said about this. Instead of trying to address what may be a list of grievances, he suggested that we listen to what the person is actually saying. i.e., "you hurt my feelings" or "I don't think you care about me". Sometimes those things are hidden behind criticism or complaints about other things. I'm sure I've thought about it this way before but it was a good reminder to really try hard to hear what's being said and address that, rather than argue fine points which may end up getting you nowhere.

Healthy communication isn't easy, and it doesn't really come naturally to most people. Most of us tend to want to defend ourselves rather than hear what's being said and respond with humility. After being a parent for 26+ years, I'm still learning how to best respond to my kids when an issue of tension comes up. After being a Christian for 15 years, I'm also still learning how to respond with a Biblical frame of mind. It's real work, to communicate without putting yourself first (which we're all prone to do). However, the work is pivotal, and ability to truly listen well is a goal we all need to aim for so that the photo album cover definition of family can truly be applied to our relationships. It's a good definition, and it's a real blessing to be in that comfy place of family unity and a heartful of fond memories.


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Thursday, July 23, 2009

There But For the Grace of God

I think the worst possible time to really need to use a restroom, is when there is no possible way you can use a restroom. Say for example when you're travelling down the highway, the closest rest area or service center is still an hour or so away, and suddenly you find yourself stuck in what used to be 4 lanes of flowing highway traffic, and is now a very large parking lot.

This is what happened earlier this week on the westbound 401 just west of Toronto. The thing is, on the 401 I have found many times that by the time the parking lot turns back into flowing traffic, you're at a complete loss as to why the traffic stopped in the first place. No road construction, no accidents, no flying monkeys or any other things going on that make even a tiniest bit of sense as to why the traffic slowed to a crawl, or came to a complete stop.

On Tuesday however, this was not the case. By the time we were all funnelled into the righthand shoulder and making our way past the cause of the back up, it was pretty obvious what happened. A one car accident is what the traffic news station had said, but what was munched up and mangled on the far side of the highway barely even resembled a car. The top was completely gone, the windshield was a good 30 feet away leaning against the median, and various sized pieces of the car were littered all the way across all four lanes, and went on for at least 100 feet or so. This car was so smashed in, we were convinced no one could have survived that. The news today however, is saying that they did. Two women with serious but non-life threatening injuries were transported from the scene just before we got there. News reports say the car rolled at least once. I'd guess by the looks of the car it was probably several times.

It really made us all take a long pause for thought. Thoughts of God's mercy, thoughts of how incredibly minor it is to be needing a washroom and inconvenienced at traffic jams, when other people have just gone through something so horrific as a major car accident, or worse. Thoughts of how they needed God's hand of comfort far more than we needed to be getting home from vacation, and thoughts of just how incredibly blessed we are that we did have a wonderful time on vacation.

For me personally it made me think also about how (speaking for myself only, I'm not sure how common this is among believers) sometimes it really bothers me that I don't pray and give thanks for all the GOOD, nearly as much as I feel like I pray and cry out to God for all the not so good. I don't ever want to find myself regretting that I didn't give thanks for all the blessings in my life. Big ones, little ones, and all sizes in between. Every day that I have with my kids, my husband, my grandkids and my extended family is indeed a blessing to me. Every time the paycheck goes into the bank, every time the car or van starts when I expect it to, every time I go to the kitchen to make dinner and there is plenty of food to cook - those are all straight from God. His provision, His blessings, His care.

I never want to take that for granted, and never want to find myself getting too comfy with so many of my modern conveniences that make my life so easy. It's very easy to get spoiled by them, and forget that they could all disappear over night.


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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

(Updated) Summer Fun

Just a little fun at the Sandbanks :-)




And... a fun little slideshow too! It was much easier to do it this way, than upload individual pics.







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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Home Again

Just got home from vacation, with nearly 350 pics and vids... and mosquito bites. It was SO worth it to put up with the skeeters, it was an awesome vacation.

I'll post some pics & links soon. :-)


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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Just a Little of This, and a Dash of That

You may or may not have been wondering what I've been up to lately that keeps me from blogging every day. In case you have been wondering, here is part of what I've been up to in the past week or so. I find that designing benefits me in numerous ways, the least of which it keeps me thinking and keeps me from blogging things I prolly should leave alone in the first place.

Besides, I've had an uber-burst of creative ideas for the last few months and I'm enjoying the ride while it lasts. These bursts tend to dry up after a while so I've been glad this one has lasted as long as it has.

Some of the other things I've been busy with that are not nearly as interesting, would be overhauling kids bedrooms (closets, under beds, toyboxes, moving furniture, etc.), painting, gardening (my radishes didn't make it, but everything else is doing great), dental/orthodontist work for the whole family (yay, my life is filled with adventure!), re-organizing the school room with the changes coming and only homeschooling one kid this coming year (that's going to be very odd for me, we've ALWAYS had numerous kids at home for school, so this is new territory for me), and various other summer-related projects.

So yes, I'm keeping very busy and blogging very little. I suspect this will change in the new school year, as I'll have plenty of thoughts about being a dual homeschool/public school mom again. I've already noted several huge changes coming and how very different its going to be around here, and I'm not sure I'm okay with it, yet. More on that, on another day. Samuel's room is on the list for today and if you have an 8 year old boy with his own room, you know what I'm in for.

Cover me, I'm going in! (armed with garbage bags, vacuum cleaner and air freshener!)


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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Idolizing Famous Christians?

What follows is a sort of hodge-podge of thoughts that crossed my mind this week about John Calvin, Celebrity Pastors, and keeping the main thing, the main thing.

With John Calvin's recent 500th birthday anniversary this past week, the instant comm world of various Twitter, Facebook and blogs saw an abundance of Calvin references. Some would say the references to Calvin were on the OVER abundance side, and I would tend to partly agree with that. For me personally it did become a bit tedious to see everyone and their dog posting about Calvin. But, that's just me.

The one comment that stood out to me however was from Scott Thomas (@acts29) on twitter when he posted this:

"My Calvin tweet made World magazine Tweet of the Day. The purpose was to worship the correct JC and not the other."

The Calvin "tweet' (post/update) he referred to was this one:

"John Calvin is still dead (~500 years) and Jesus is still alive (~2000 years). Just sayin'"

For me, it wasn't his first tweet that stood out, but his second. The way it reads, Thomas is implying that there may be some that are worshipping Calvin, rather than Christ. Now, I don't really believe Thomas meant to imply there are Calvinists running around who are literally (in the biblical definition of idolatry) worshipping Calvin, but regardless of intention it seemed a bit harsh and even somewhat insulting. For those in the Calvinist/Calvinistic/Reformed camp it's frustrating enough to hear the nonsense accusation that we worship Calvin, but to see it coming from "inside the camp" so to speak, is even more frustrating. In my ever so prone to being wrong opinion, I just don't think he should have worded it that way. There is a better way to remind fellow believers to keep Christ the main thing. See this post by James White, for what I believe to be a much more gentle reminder.

The Scriptures say that we are to give double honor to those elders that rule well and work diligently at preaching and teaching (1Tim. 5:17) I've seen and heard this verse used in so many different ways, that it seems confusing sometimes what it really means. Some would say that the very office or title of pastor qualifies a man for automatic respect and reverence. I would have to strongly disagree on this, since the verse clearly says those that rule well AND work diligently on preaching and teaching. The focus is the man who does the hard work, not the title or the office itself. From all I have read, I believe it to mean not only caring for our hard working pastors (elders) in their physical needs and support, but in paying them a respect for what they do.

Were all the blog posts, tweets and FB updates this week simply giving double honor (and showing respect for the influence) to John Calvin for the contribution he made to the Christian church - or - was it a case of forgetting who we worship? I guess it all depends on the way you look at it. I'm sure there are plenty of non-reformed folks who would clearly see it as Calvin-worship. However, I can pretty much bet that if anyone who posted about Calvin in the past week was told that they were worshipping the wrong JC, they wouldn't be too impressed with such an accusation.

While there is no question at all that there is a form of Celebrity Pastor following (which is rather disturbing, really) for such men in the Christian church as Piper, Sproul, MacArthur, Driscoll (and even such men as Hinn, Warren and Osteen, even though they clearly fall into a different category), it does make one wonder, what it really means to give double honor and where the line is, on paying respect and giving honor and how many of us really understand it. Like everyone else, I have my favorite pastors, speakers, teachers and authors. These are the ones I listen to, read, and have been influenced by over the years. Men of God who were raised up to do the work of a pastor or teacher and who work hard at preaching and doctrine. I very much appreciate what they do, what they've done, and their labor for the Lord and for the edification of His church.

I find it very appropriate to say "so and so really blessed me this week" and then talking about what he said on a particular topic. I don't believe for a moment that this falls into any kind of pastor worship or anything like that. However, if EVERY single person I talk to brings up the same person and says the same thing, it tends to feel a little uncomfortable. It does tend to feel like that whole Celebrity Pastor thing I mentioned earlier, and that we all know exists (yet no one really wants to admit it).

In some ways this often feels like a strange catch-22 sort of thing. Maybe I'm the only one who feels this way. Maybe not? Maybe the Christian community has created a bizarre sort of sub-culture that has muddied the waters a bit on this by treating pastors the same way the world treats celebrities?

Your thoughts are very much appreciated, so please do sound off with your take on all this.


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Friday, July 10, 2009

(UPDATED) Calling All Cherry Experts: Recipes Wanted!

Father's Day Cherry TreeSix years ago for Father's Day, I bought Kevin a scrawny little cherry tree, about 6 feet tall. It looked healthy, but the guy at the nursery said it'd be a while before it really produced.

We brought it home and planted it, and today it stands at about 30 feet (I'm guessing, it might even be taller than that - the ladder here is an 8 foot ladder) and for the first time it is literally exploding with cherries. It's had fruit before, but nothing like this - branches are just loaded with yummy, dark red cherries! I'll be headed out after dinner today to pick them before the robins get fat on them.

I'd like to put these beauties to real good use, and other than cherry pie (and eating them out of the bowl) I really don't have any ideas on how to use them. So I was wondering, do you have an awesome cherry recipe you'd like to share with me?

You can share it in the comments, or send me an email if you prefer. I'm looking forward to cherry yummies!



Here's round one:





I expect it to take at least 2 more rounds with the ladder to get them all, which should yield roughly 6 pounds of cherries, by the time I'm done. I'd like to let them get a little darker but the birds are already having a block party in our tree!
---
Well, I went back out for another round and since my ladder is only 8 feet tall, it looks like round 3 (the ones at the very top) will have to be left for the birds. All totalled I think I have around 5 pounds of cherries. Now... how about those recipes?





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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Blogging 5 Years - a few thoughts a long the way

Last month marked my 5 year bloggiversary. I thought about it a couple of times along the lines of "wow, has it really been five years since I started blogging?" but was then quickly distracted with other things and never actually blogged about it. Besides, I've had NRCTM syndrome for quite a while now, and haven't blogged even a 10th of the things I think about. In case you were wondering, NRCTM syndrom is "nobody really cares that much". I started getting that when I would spend large amounts of time writing about something dear to my heart, and no one commented. Yes its true, bloggers LIKE comments, no matter how much they might deny it. The sound of crickets chirping at your blog is a good sign NRCTM is going on.

So, other than whining about the lack of feedback, here are some extremely random observations I've noted in five years of blogging:

• Five years in blog-time is like 100 years in real time. Blogs have always been and still are, time-sensitive. If you blog about something next week that was interesting today, you've already missed the boat. People lose interest VERY quickly and are already being drawn away to the next blog that is featuring today's hot item.

• You can write the most important post ever, in the history of the world - but if someone comes along and posts about something scandelous and/or controversial and/or trivial, it will ALWAYS get more response. Scandel trumps important in bloggyland, and that's just the way it is.

• After blogging for five years, I've learned how to punctuate a little better, and never spell alot anymore, I spell it a lot. Blogging has been good for my grammar in at least those two ways. I still make plenty of spelling mistakes but I can live with that. Someone once called me the Queen of Commas, and when I look back through my archives I can see why. I write the way I speak, and when I speak I take short pauses between thoughts, so that's where commas go. I honestly don't give a rip if that's a violation of some sort of grammar rule. Although I have tried to use commas a little less.

• A couple of different times at conferences, people have approached me and told me they know me from my blog. I found that rather surreal, and cool at the same time. I still meet people from time to time that tell me they read my blog - when I had no idea - because they never comment. It always makes me wonder who ELSE reads my blog, and never comments. Maybe my arch-enemy from the third grade, Joe Jonas, or Sarah Palin? Hey, you just never know. (By the way Joe, we loved the concert movie, loads of fun to watch for the whole family - tell your brothers for the Rolfe family that we all appreciated it, good job!)

• Blogging for me opened a door to some really cool offline friendships with people I'd have never known, were it not for blogging. Its been a really fun avenue for that, and I dearly treasure those friendships.

• Blogging has also opened a door for me when it comes to graphic design. Its a pretty cool feeling when someone asks "can you create a graphic for me?" for a special project, their own blog, a concert poster, a t-shirt or some other need. No question there are designers out there that make my work look like a headless chicken got into a box of markers, but I sure appreciate that some folks out there like my work. I love to do custom designs, and usually have at least 2-3 on the go at the same time during the week. Its a blessing to be asked to do, what you love to do in the first place.

• Only 1 time in my five years of blogging, did I post something that I meant to save to draft instead. That's a pretty good stat for a misfired post. Only 3 posts have ever been pulled because they created more heat than light. I'm just really glad the misfired post didn't say something SUPER embarassing that should have been edited first. I can't even remember what that post was about, but I do remember all 3 of the posts I pulled.

• I'm glad my mom reads my blog everyday. Not everyone can say that, but I can.

• I no longer subsribe to any of the sites that tell you how cool your blog is, how your blog habits rate you as a sloth-like mammal (or whatever those categories are), or that sort of thing. For me, all they did was feed my ego and that was the last thing I needed. I do subscribe to feedjit and sitemeter because I find it fascinating where people come from that land here at Reflections. I don't look at the numbers anymore, so without checking right this minute, I wouldn't have a clue how many people visit this blog every day, or every month. I really like feedjit because it tells me what folks are looking for. For example, folks in NJ, TN, PA, CA, IL and Hong Kong have all arrived here in the last 24 hours by searching google for a John Calvin 500 t-shirt. This is very helpful information if you're in the business of selling John Calvin 500 t-shirts, which I am. (Okay I just checked the numbers in sitemeter and it tells me this blog is visited by an average of 3,500 people per month, over the course of the last year. Is this good? Is this low? I honestly don't know, and honestly don't much care. If what I have to say blesses, encourages, helps, benefits even one person in the smallest way, then I'm good with that. On the other hand, if each of those people would buy just 1 t-shirt from any of my stores - in a year Kev could retire early and we could spend our days eating cheetos, blogging more, travelling and having a good time. See, this is part of why I don't check or really care about numbers, it makes me start having silly, unrealistic thoughts! Although, I will certainly not be offended if you buy a t-shirt today.)

• Blogging has been an incredible resource for all kinds of things. From great recipes, to great music, homeschooling resources, book recommendations, conference dates, movie reviews and more. The blogging community I'm a part of is quite generous with resources and recommendations, and my life is truly better for it. I hope that continues, I count on it.

• I've limited the number of blogs I read to less than 5 daily. I just don't have time to read more than that, and even that is too many some days so I have to spend some catch-up time on some of those during the week. The last time I checked my bloglines it had over 700 unread posts from all the rest of them I have subscribed to over the years. I simply marked them all as "read" and started with a clean slate. I have no idea how anyone can read so many blogs during the day, unless they do literally nothing else but read blogs.

• Blogging has caused me to become LESS critical and more compassionate. Way back a million blog years ago I had another blog where the ENTIRE FOCUS of the blog, was to critique a movement within the evangelical church. It was needed at the time, but one day when I was reading through the archives (still available via the wayback machine) I quickly became depressed at the tone of my own writing. About a year ago some other things came down the pike that I didn't expect and caused me to think hard about this whole idea of open criticism once again. It's really easy to be critical of all kinds of things, and while some things need to be critically commented on for the good of others, there's a way do that and at the very same time be an encouragement too. Thats key, and the goal I aim for now. One good friend I have calls this being redemptive in your speaking, and that's a good way to say it. I would much rather be redemptive in my blogging than just critical without edification. I still miss the mark a lot of the time, but it is the goal.

I'm sure there are other things I've learned through blogging over the years, but those are the ones that came to mind as I wrote this. I love writing, and love blogging, and have no plans to give either up, any time soon. I do however, have a garden to water, dishes to wash, a cake to bake, and a grocery list to write, so this trip down bloggy lane is now over. I hope it was fun for you. :-)


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Monday, July 6, 2009

Trending - twitter style

If you're a twitter user, you already know what that is. If you're not a twitter user, "trending" is the list of topics located in your twitter homepage sidebar that tell you what are the most talked about subjects at any given time. I'm not sure how often it's updated, but I suppose it's quite often throughout the day, since it fluctuates constantly. For example, right now the trending topics are:

#musicmonday, Michael Jackson, #Hottest100, MJ's, Dirty Diana, Secret Life, #IranElection, AT&T, Harry Potter and Shannon Brown. (The # symbol in front of a topic means it's a hashtag topic, used to mark and track a special subject. Anyone can create one and even I have one "#reflexnstees". I can search for that and see who's used it on twitter - because that means they get a double entry into the current store giveaway.)

So, back to trending. Nearly any time something significant happens in the world, you can be sure it will become a trending topic on twitter, at least for a while. When the precious little girl from Woodstock was kidnapped (and then her accused murderers arrested) "Tori Stafford" was a trending topic and it was good to see that there. That meant countless people had taken some time out of their lives to at least pay some attention to the case, and at least post a quick tweet about her. Her plight was on our minds and we kept her case "trending" for a while. The more coverage her case received, the more coverage her case received. In a case of a child abduction this is a very, very good thing. This is one very good use of such technology.

However (and you knew this was coming), its impossible not to notice the absolute petty, useless fluff that makes it onto the "trending" list. Now, what I find petty and useless someone else might find interesting and exciting, and vice versa. For example, during the January through May season of the show 24 with Keifer Sutherland, every Monday night some reference to the show was a trending topic. Either Jack Bauer, Tony Almeida, 24, or some other name or reference to the show. For those who watch the show, it's sort of fun to take a peek at those topics and see what others are saying about that particular episode. For those that do not watch the show, it would seem those trending topics are a complete waste of time and pointless. Which is pretty much how I feel about some of the trending topics that show up, like the hot 100 or the variation of Miley Cyrus topics.

Overall, it's a rather interesting look into what people are talking about, whats holding their attention and why. Sometimes its really good, and other times I shake my head and think "there is no way THIS many people care about this subject", but they certainly do. It's hard to say what will be trending tomorrow, but I can pretty much bet it will have very little to do with what's truly important in life, and much more to do with what makes us laugh, or ticks us off, or those things we just find truly bizarre and have to comment about.

(In the time it took me to write this, Harry Potter fell off the trending topics list and was replaced by Bachelorette. Apparently the latter is more exciting than the former, tonight.)


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Win a Free Tee from Reflections


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Thursday, July 2, 2009

NOBAMA No More


I have decided it's time to discontinue the Anti-Obama designs in my store, so as of Monday July 6, the following designs on various styles of t-shirts, stickers, etc. will no longer be available. So, if you'd like one of these, now is the time to grab one because after Monday - they're gone!

If you're wondering if I've changed my political views, the answer is most assuredly NO, I have not. Similar designs may likely appear prior to the next election, but for now these are being discontinued. So, tell all your friends, phone home, tweet & retweet because after Monday they're history.
Click either tee to visit the respective shop sections they're at:

OBAMANATION - Where the Unborn are Easily Disposable NOBAMA


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Bad Bugs

Since summertime is also BUG time, I thought it would be helpful to share this little slide show from WebMD on bad bugs and their bites. It's good info on what various bug bites look like, and how to treat them.

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