Saturday, June 27, 2015

You Keep Using That Word...

I've thought of about 50 different ways to say what I want to say on this subject. I'm pretty sure anything I do have to say has already been said in a much more eloquent way by someone else anyway, so it probably wont be anything new. I do want to say it with all honesty and with all kindness, and respect however.  So I'll just go ahead and start off rambling and hope it makes sense to someone. Deal? Great!

So, the Supreme Court's ruling to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states... confirmed something we (society) have known for quite some time now: we (society) disagree on what marriage is. Really, this is not news to anyone who's been paying attention for longer than 20 minutes. While Bible believing Christians believe God defined marriage as a sacred union between one man and one woman, unbelieving people disregard that and are perfectly okay with marriage being between anyone, of any gender-identity.  Again, this is really not news.

Bible believing Christians (and I need to make that distinction because there are people that call themselves Christians but don't actually believe what the Bible teaches about many things) and non-Christian members of society disagree on lots of things besides what marriage really means.  From how you really get to Heaven, who Jesus actually was, male/female roles (within the church as well as within the family), abortion, divorce, adultery, pre-marital sex, and about 800 million other things from the length of your skirt to the cut of your hair, piercings, tattoos, and this, that and the other.  Some of those things we disagree on are obviously way more important than others, but the point is: we disagree.  We always have, and we always will.  Simply because, our worldview is different, and it always will be.

When I read the news of the Supreme Court ruling, I then read a lot of opinions about it.  Some were very rational, level-headed thinkers while others were, well, let's just say they were not rational at all. That led me to thinking I wanted to create a design that simply summed up what Bible believing Christians do believe about marriage, and why without bashing what other people believe or support, because frankly, that's not "gentleness and reverence" (1Peter 3:15).  Others will support same-sex marriage, and that's their right to do that, just as it is our right to support the historical, traditional, Biblical definition of marriage. So while the Supreme Court defines marriage one way, for the Bible believing Christian it's defined a different way, and it always has been and always will be... and that's what we support.

So with that said, for those who do support Biblical marriage, I've created a limited collection of products with this graphic:

Direct links to each:

White coffee mug, silver water bottle, black water bottle, white 4"x6" magnet, black 4"x6" magnet, white tee, black tee.

(Small sidenote: when I created my graphic design business I named it Reflections.  I've always believed what you wear on your t-shirt (or have on your coffee mug, keychain, bumper sticker, etc.) is a genuine reflection of what's in your heart/mind.  What you're most passionate about, what you really want the world to see.  While "Christian t-shirts" are not everyone's thing, for those who like them, I try to bring it up a notch from the standard slogans.  You can see my limited collection of Christian tees here.)

Monday, June 8, 2015

Vimy Ridge 100th Anniversary

A few weeks ago, one of our high school kids came home from school with an informational booklet on a historic, educational tour to Vimy Ridge 2017.  April 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the battle at Vimy Ridge, France where for the first time ever, four separate divisions of the Canadian military joined forces and defeated the German military.  Nearly 3,600 courageous men lost their lives in that 3 day battle but it was a victorious event that literally put Canada on the map.

The more I read about this 12 day tour, the more we talked about it, the more our 16 year old Rachel and 14 year old Samuel got excited and decided this was something they really wanted to be a part of. Touring the battle site and other historic landmarks in England and France and walking (literally) of the footsteps of Canadians that came before them, 100 years ago.

We read and discussed the cost of this trip, per student, and decided the only way it would be possible to send them on this amazing adventure, would be through some pretty diligent fundraising.  I checked under the mattress and in the hole in the back yard, and there wasn't nearly enough to cover it.

But first, they had to apply to be accepted for this trip.  A big part of the application process was to have their grades for the last year verified as acceptable and to write an essay as to why they wanted to go and what this trip means to them.  They filled out their applications and wrote their essays and late last week, both were notified they'd been accepted!  They're the only brother/sister team in the entire school, so for our family, that's pretty fantastic. And, expensive! (But I cannot adequately express how proud of both of them I am.)

We have several avenues of fundraising available to us but before I talk about that, I'd like for you to watch this video.  This is the travel company organizing the trip they're hoping to be a part of:


So now, down to the nitty gritty (and hoping this is where others may feel as excited as we all are, and want to help get these kids to Vimy Ridge!) :) They have (technically) 2 years to raise the money but there is a significant cost up front. Deposits for both of them (paid today) and 3 months payments in advance (for both) to qualify for a monthly payment (which makes paying for the trip a bit more realistic, instead of the full cost up front). That's $1,086 due within the next 30 days.

Their school will be helping them with various fundraising opportunities in the coming months but we already have two in progress. First, I helped them create this GoFundMe campaign.  It lists the breakdown of the costs and features a video of both of them explaining in their own words, what this trip means to them.

Second, I launched a brand new zazzle shop for them today, full of all kinds of commemorative gifts and awesome travel accessories for any Canadian making this trip in 2017

Personalized travel journals, water bottles, totes, backpacks, passport covers and so much more.  All the proceeds of this shop will be going directly to their fundraising efforts so we're really hoping people will share this and get the word out!  I'll be adding more designs (coming soon will be their school logo of We Learn By Doing on a wide variety of inspirational products) asap.

Third, we've created a FB page for them here to keep everyone posted on all the developments, links, etc.  I'll be updating this as much as possible.

We can't get them there on our own and we're hoping you'll help get these kids to Vimy Ridge by liking & sharing all these links in your circle of friends on social media.  If you're able to help by donating to the fundraiser, we thank you in advance!  Every dollar raised matters and will go a long way toward sending these two kids on the trip of a lifetime.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Once Again: The Duggar Family

I've already shared some thoughts on this here but since twitter isn't always the best place to express yourself in the most meaningful way, I feel compelled to post again.  Over the last three evenings Megyn Kelly has devoted her entire show to the Duggar family.  Last night she asks

I have many thoughts on this but first I'd like to say that I thought the interview was very well done.  She asked pointed and important questions, allowed the young women to speak without cutting them off or twisting their words (the way many others would have) and handled the entire painful and sensitive subject with class and respect.  I appreciate that.

Now for my other thoughts in no particular order...

But first, a few things:

I don't know the Duggar family personally.   I've never watched their tv show because I don't care for reality tv. I actually know very little about the Duggar family except that they have way more kids than we do (all with J names - where we only have three J named kids), and they're Christians. I've never felt the need to know anything more about the Duggar family.  When I first heard the news of the "sex scandal" my initial reaction was probably a lot like everyone else's.  I was disgusted.  But then I thought "wait, it's the media, what's the real story here?"  Knowing the way the media works I knew what was initially reported was likely not factual at all.  As it turns out, I was right.

My only real motivation or need to express my thoughts about this whole mess is because on a fundamental level of "family" and "Christian" I can identify with this family, as a mother of many children.  I also have huge issues with lies, and the way the media will spin just about anything to make it sound like THE story of the year when the truth is often nowhere near as horrifying as the media has made it out to be.  Or sometimes it's the opposite and the story is much more complex and painful and the media makes a mockery of it, by omitting some of the most important details.  It's been many years but I've had first hand experience with the media and I've seen myself on tv saying things that were taken so completely out of context, even I wouldn't have completely believed me, if I didn't know the whole story.  So on this level, I also identify in some way with this family.  So with that said...


One of the worst things (in my opinion) to come from this media disaster, is the leaking of the sealed, juvenile/family court records. As difficult as it must be for the Duggar family to have to deal with all of this all over again after 13 years, I cannot even imagine what the broader effect will be now. I hope of course it will have zero effect and those who need help, continue to reach out for it.

If you are an underage victim of sexual abuse or assault, and you've been following this case in the news, how likely is it that you're going to feel like speaking to someone in authority is a safe place for you?  The blatant betrayal of trust by whoever provided those documents to the media is something that absolutely must be investigated. Being the victim of sexual abuse carries enough shame, guilt and stigma (all misplaced, but its the reality all the same) on it's own.  But to take it a step further and see what can happen if you do make the choice to trust someone, is potentially devastating.

The reality is, in most cases, most of the time, your situation and your case will in fact be kept confidential and you can trust the authorities to handle your situation with dignity and respect. The Duggar case is an exception because they are in the public eye and because they are a Christian family.  They were specifically targeted by a malicious, spiteful individual who wanted the general public to think horrible things about them.  And it worked.  The media and the public has eaten it up like candy.  The very public that knows the media spins things to fit their own agenda.  Yet the public, our culture craves scandal so this was a particularly delicious treat, it would seem.


Click-bait.  That's all it is. I've seen some of the headlines associated with this case and they are blatant, 100% lies written for no other reason than to get as many clicks and generate as much conversation and gossip as possible.  The media has played the public like a stinking fiddle.  Yes, no question at all, crimes were committed.  But the actual crimes committed compared to the non-stop accusations and name calling are like night and day.  Those who are calling Josh Duggar a rapist, a pedophile, a predator, a pervert, etc. may as well be calling people like Ted Bundy and John Gacy "difficult neighbors". It's almost as if... folks are reading the lies, and want it to be true so badly, that they just repeat what they've read. Instead of looking honestly and rationally at the facts.


Every once in a while, someone on social media will post something they read in the news, as if it just happened today - when in fact it's an old news story that they'd just never seen before. Just a couple of weeks ago a local, independent news outlet actually posted James Garner's obituary with the headline of something along the lines of "farewell, Rockford".  A bunch of people commented and asked why they were posting last year's news.  They didn't bother to explain, they just deleted the post. Needless to say, that outlet lost numerous credibility points that day.

In very much the same way, this is exactly what's going on with the Duggar family.  Media got hold of an OLD story that wasn't actually a secret or covered up or buried (or any of the other accusations people are making), and made us all think a.) it just happened and b.) it was WAY worse than it really was.  And, right on cue... the public reacted the way the public tends to react when hearing an awful story that includes sexual abuse and children.  And lies, and secrets, and cover-ups and... all the other scandalous adjectives peppered throughout all the media stories.

The thing is, I get why people are angry.  Sexual abuse of children or anyone else SHOULD generate that kind of response.  It's vile and awful and humiliating and all of those things and more. I also get why people are angry about (what some are saying) a "cover up" and how Josh Duggar never paid the civil penalties for what he did.  But in this case, it's an OLD story.  It's something that did happen but it happened 12-13 years ago and was already dealt with by the family, the victims, local law enforcement (who were in fact the ones to drop the ball initially when the state trooped never filed an actual report - let's be honest and lay that blame where it belongs), family services, etc.  It's something the family themselves have moved on from years ago. Yet, because it's just now being revealed to the general public, they have to deal with it again.  Like ripping open a painful scar that took years to heal... just to watch it bleed.  Frankly, I find that revolting.


Part of the reason this story is important to me is because I can relate to this family.  While we have never had an incident of sexual abuse in our immediate family, we most certainly have had some extraordinarily painful, difficult, shameful, awful, terrible times we've had to deal with, walk through, pray about, seek counsel for, and attempt to move on from.  Many tears were shed, many thoughts were had about "will we get past this?" and many days were spent walking on eggshells, with no peace in sight and tension in our home so thick you could practically smell it.  Why?  Because stuff happens.  It happens in every single family.  Some to a greater extent than others but it most definitely does happen.  If anyone reading can honestly say they've never dealt with things like this is their own family, they're either delusional or they are the exception to the rule, and blessed beyond measure.

I think about my own family and think... what if?

What if, after dealing with all the painful things, for some bizarre reason we became famous.  Then, what if, some slimeball who didn't like us, decided to dig deep into our closets to find skeletons?  I can assure you, every family has one or more and we're no different.  Then, said slimeball decided to notify the media about these skeletons and the media ran with it.  How would we deal with that?  Would anyone believe us? Would we cringe every time a new headline was written that was a total lie about what actually happened or how we dealt with it?  Would we chose to do an interview to tell our side of the story about what really happened?  Would anyone believe that interview? Would our motives be judged, over and over again by people that don't even know us, weren't there, and don't have all the facts?

My husband and I actually talked about this the other night as it pertains to this case, and how we'd deal with it if this were our family.  Usually we're both pretty skeptical and critical of things but we both have a great deal of compassion for this family knowing that it could happen to any family.

Then I think about being 14 and the person I was then.  OH MY GOODNESS.  I'm not going to out myself for all the dumb, mean, stupid, thoughtless, rotten things I said and did and thought at 14 years old, but I can tell you I was not a good person, much of the time. I was a rebellious, bull-headed, independent brat and did whatever I wanted to do, despite the rules, despite the consequences.  And I ended up paying for it, in spades.  Then I grew up and became normal (well, for the most part).  Who among us, who among reading about the Duggar family case, is the same person they were at 14?  Well, unless you're just now 15, probably no one.  I don't know Josh Duggar but I know being 14, and it's a galaxy away from being 27.  That much I do know, and I'm sure everyone else does too.

So... just a few more thoughts on this mess.  I do hope the ones most affected by this find peace, and it comes quickly.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Duggar Family, Lies, Facts and Zealots

I've been wanting to address some of the things I've seen in social media but I decided I'd wait until after Megyn Kelly's exclusive interview with Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar before I did that. Now that this has aired, I'm even more compelled.

I'm not going to re-hash all the details of this case but I want to address some of the outright lies and misinformation out there.  Of course I'm not an insider in the case but there are police reports and court records available and if anyone has actually read them, I mean actually read them, they'd already know what was fact and what isn't. I've read the legal documents in this case, despite the fact they should have been sealed to protect the innocent.  So with that said, here are some claims I've seen, and what actually happened:

CLAIM: "The Duggars tried to cover this up!"

FACT: In a word: baloney.  From the parents own statements they did make an attempt to deal with their son and their daughters privately, in-house, at first.  Right or wrong, given the devastating news of what their son had confessed to them, I think a lot of parents might do the same. At first.  After they were informed of it happening again, they consulted with the elders of their church, removed their son from their home and made arrangements for him to be under the counsel of a fellow Christian and once he returned home, took him to the local state police office (with a witness) to confess his crimes to law enforcement.  They also arranged for further counseling for the girls and their son.

Newsflash: if you're attempting to cover up a crime, you don't tell the elders of your church about it to seek their counsel, you don't tell a fellow Christian about the crime and enlist his assistance in counseling your son, you definitely don't march your kid into the police department with the intention of having him confess all he's done, and you certainly don't take a witness with you. You also don't seek out family counseling for your other family members.  If this is the way you're trying to cover up a crime, you're pretty much the dumbest person in the world.

CLAIM: "they reported it to trooper Hutchens only because he was Jim Bob's friend and they knew he was a fellow pervert and he'd help cover it up!"

FACT: the problem with this claim, is that there is simply no facts to back it up. Just a whole pile of rumor, gossip and speculation on the part of those that for some reason, need Jim Bob Duggar to be a twisted, lying, pervert himself. Or, just want others to think he is.

First of all, according to pretty much every media source out there, there's no evidence Mr. Duggar and former state trooper (now inmate at Wrightsville Prison in Arkansas) Hutchens were ever "friends" at all. Duggar knew of him through a professional capacity, and that was that.

Secondly, Hutchens' child pornography charges came years after the fact.  There is absolutely no evidence to support the claim that the Duggars sought out this man specifically to help them cover up anything or that they knew he was a pedophile himself.

CLAIM: "the state trooper says Duggar lied to him, and only told him of ONE incident!"

FACT: Well, technically it's not fact unless of course the entire interview was recorded for proof, but Mr. Duggar not only claims this is a lie, but states his son told the trooper everything, and there was a witness present along with himself.  Again, if you're going to lie to law enforcement about a crime you're turning your kid in for (that you're actually trying to cover up), you don't take a witness that can later testify you actually lied to law enforcement.  Very bad idea.

What I do find particularly striking about this claim is that there are people out there eager and willing to believe the word of a two-time convicted pedophile, over the word of a Christian family man. Let that sink in for a moment.

CLAIM: "He's a rapist and a pedophile!"

FACT: Neither is true.  Rape never occurred (the crime was sexual misconduct/assault in the form of touching). That crime alone is reprehensible enough without exaggerating it and making it sound as if it was more than it was. The legal, medical, and psychiatric definition of a pedophile is an adult (over the age of 16) with a particular deviant sexual attraction to pre-pubescent children that is recurrent (often or repeatedly).   The facts in this case do not represent pedophilia in any sense of the legal definition.

There are so many more allegations about this family and this case.  More than I even care to address, that's for sure.  It comes as no surprise to me at all that unbelievers are delighting in the scandal.  It's extraordinarily disheartening to me however, that even some Christians are taking the same glee with it, and have essentially judged and sentenced them all.

I've seen some cry that civil justice was never served in this case, since no charges were ever brought.  This is true, but this is not at the fault of the Duggar family, as they DID in fact go to law enforcement.  Yet now, for motives we can only speculate on, instead of civil justice for 1 perpetrator, it's a matter of social condemnation of the entire family and anyone connected to them. Including the parents, and the victims, and all the siblings that had nothing to do with any of it, but are now laying under the bus with the rest of the people named Duggar.  The INjustice of that boggles my mind. The callousness, lack of grace, lack of compassion, lack of human decency.  All from people that claim to be victim advocates and/or caring Christians.

The fact is, in 2002/2003 a crime was committed against 5 girls by a 14/15 year old boy. The parents were notified, the church was notified, law enforcement was notified, and accredited, professional counseling was sought out by the parents for all affected.  I believe Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar did all they could, all they thought was right, at the time, to deal with what their son had done, and get the girls the counseling they needed as well. As a mother myself of 7 kids, I honestly cannot even begin to imagine what it must have been like to hear this awful news.  It's the worst news a mother can hear about her own children, and to add pain upon pain, to learn it was one of her very own children that committed the crime?  Heartbreaking is the only word that comes to mind and it doesn't feel like it even comes close to how that would feel.

The only real questions for me now are:

1. Why the real pedophile in this case, (the former state trooper that was notified of the crime, the one who was using not only his own home computer to access such vile and wicked material, but also the county owned computer he used during his time as a court bailiff, according to legal documents) chose not to actually file a police report.  I could speculate on this all day, but there are no real answers.  My best guess is, what he was hearing from Josh and Jim Bob Duggar was a walk in the park compared to what he himself was into, and didn't find it worthy of an investigation.

2. How did a sealed, juvenile record become public knowledge, complete with the names of minor victims? Where is the investigation into how that document was leaked out to the media? Someone most definitely must be held accountable for this.

I can only pray that the right thing is done for all concerned in this heartbreaking case and that somehow, in some way, God would be glorified through it all. And for all the zealots (both unbelievers and Christians alike) out there so gleefully throwing the Duggar family under the bus, that nothing like this ever happens in their own families.

Sadly in this twisted, fallen, wicked world we live in, statistics are not on their side.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Eleven Years and Counting

So here we are.  Eleven years after I started blogging in June of 2004.  It's not one of those things I sit around and think about so typing that out seems, odd, somehow.  Has it really been 11 years since I sat down and thought up a name for my blog (that wasn't easy but it stuck, and I'm still happy with it), and began to journal my daily thoughts?  Yes, it really has, although daily posts stopped several years ago once I began to work full time.

As I've thought about it over the last few days as I decided if I wanted to mark this personal milestone event (or not) with a post, I thought about all the changes that have taken place not only with the blog, but with me, social media, and blogging in general.  In all areas really, there have been some pretty big changes.


Before I started blogging myself, I had a friend who'd started a blog and in his first post he said something about leaving a digital footprint for his newborn son.  He wanted to leave something of a written legacy (his own writings about life and what everything means) for his son and future children to someday read and understand who he was as an adult, as a deep thinker, and not just "dad".  I was rather impressed with that motive for blogging and thought I'd like to do the same.  I've kept diaries and journals since I was about 10 years old so this just felt like the natural progression of things.

Since that first post, I think I've probably covered more topics than I can even remember ever writing about.  Everything from parenting, to phobias, pretty much every Christian doctrine, society, entertainment, politics, traditions, recipes, cats, lions, tigers and bears.  Oh my!  At one time, I had a rather large daily readership (and was on the "blog rolls" of several well known, BIG TIME bloggers, which was very humbling) and I was thankful for their interest and the comments they'd leave.  Often challenged by questions or ideas I hadn't considered previously (or ones I had, and had a lot to say about, because let's be honest, I have a big mouth and usually have a lot to say about a lot of things) blogging became a tremendously exciting way to engage with people on such a wide variety of topics.  I loved it!

Over the years there are a handful of posts I've written that (for a variety of reasons I'm sure) people just keep looking for & reading & commenting on.  Another blogger recently celebrating his own 10 years of blogging calls those his "evergreens".  Those posts that remain timely, relevant, and serve to encourage and bless those reading many years after the fact.  I have those evergreens as well and I'm really glad in-between all the other "stuff" I've gone on about over the years, those posts still matter to a fairly wide audience.


Several years ago we stopped homeschooling and I went to work full-time (at home, but still full time) on my graphic design.  As I began to channel my creativity into design, I began to blog less, and less.  Not that I still didn't have plenty to say, but at the end of the day being at the computer all day I didn't really have the energy to sit and blog.  I missed it, and I still miss it, but that's just the way it goes.

The funny thing is, as weeks rolled into months and months into years of blogging less, I found myself far more circumspect about the way I would write when I did decide to sit down and blog.  Instead of essentially dying on every hill, I found less hills.  Instead of being so black and white on so many issues, I saw much more gray.  There is much gray in our world and everything does not have a neat little answer and a neat little label.  Instead of being so critical of everything I found wrong with people/issues/worldviews, I found myself trying to be more compassionate and really seek to understand what they're dealing with that makes them the way they are.  Instead of just firing off one of those "and THIS is the way it is!" posts, about whatever was in the news or what have you, I found myself not blogging about it but actually thinking more about it and researching it and simply keeping my opinions to myself.  One does not always need to express their opinion, just because one can.  I have found the older I get and the more I see and the more I experience in my own life, there is much that must simply be covered by prayer, compassion and much grace.

When I go back now from time to time and read some of my earliest blog posts, sometimes I cringe.  Sometimes that old saying comes to mind that goes something like "what would the 50 year old you say to the younger you?".  I have no doubt in my mind, the 50 year old me would tell the younger me to discover the fine art of shutting up, and thinking more.  But, I leave those posts up as a testament to how far the Lord has brought me from those days.


I have thought of deleting my blog completely.  I think I've had that thought once, probably in the midst of some self-absorbed moment of utter frustration with being misunderstood. If there's one thing I cannot stand, it's being misunderstood, or having someone read into what I said while not hearing at all what I meant.  I'm pretty sure everyone goes through that from time to time.  It's even easier in this digital world of words on a screen without the facial expressions, body language, fluctuations in voice patterns, and all else that goes along with face-to-face communication and discussion.

I have no intention of deleting my blog.  Like a favorite old pair of jeans, I come back over and over again to share my thoughts on this, that, or some other.  I still have recipes to share (like that Taco Lasagna I made last night! Oh my WORD that was insanely delicious!!), and I still enjoy writing too much to not have a place to do that & encourage or inspire or challenge others to think a little deeper about things.  Social media is all well and good, and I'm there nearly every day but this is still my favorite place to let my thoughts sort of roam.  I may not blog every day anymore (or even every week, or every month!) and I may not even have any readers anymore (I haven't ever checked, I think it would make me sad), but I'm still here, and if the Lord wills, will continue to blog until I run out of things to say.

So, happy 11 years to me.

Now, who wants that recipe?