Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Money tree is planted right next to the Juicy Fruit tree


Two really cool things happened yesterday that were attitude changers.

First off, I tried to go by the post office to buy some stamps to pay some bills.  There were no parking spaces, but I could see the line outside the main lobby doors.  I quickly decided to drive on over to Kroger, where I could pick up a few things and get stamps at the check out lane there.  I ended up getting things I didn't need immediately (and forgot the toilet paper and aluminum foil, which necessitated another quick store run later), and when I went to check out, the lady told me that they had just sold out of their stock of stamps.  For the entire store.  What?!?

Anyway, as I was leaving, I told the check out lady that I hoped people were extra nice to her today--which has become my standard parting line this month.  She then told me that one of her customers had just come by and handed her a gift card and told her to have a Merry Christmas.  It was obvious that the cashier was still in a happy semi-shock, and had been very blessed by this simple act of kindness.  I was blessed by it, too.  I had never even considered doing something like that--there is never any extra money left over at the end of the day--but I love the thought.  I will keep it on the back burner in case my money tree ever starts growing.

So, I ended up having to go to the post office anyway.  I parked a mile away and made my way to the back of the line (I was number 18 at that point).  I was somewhat encouraged by the fact that all 3 check-out lanes were open, which rarely ever happens.

The lines moved fairly quickly, considering most of the customers had multiple packages that needed to be tracked and insured. (Tell me again why the post office decided to remove those self serve stamp machines from the lobby?).  I was about half way through the line (and in the actual check-out room) when a little boy and his mom walked in and kind of stood to the side.  I didn't particularly notice them, other than thinking the boy looked cute in his fuzzy animal hat.  Then, after the next customer was finished, they unobtrusively walked up to the counter with a cardboard carrier of cups of hot chocolate from the coffee shop across the parking lot, as well as individual bags of muffins that the boy had decorated.  The mom announced to the workers that  this was just a small token of appreciation for all of their hard work and patience this time of year.  

Well, let me just tell you--it was like that scene from the Grinch, when his heart grew.  Ooh and ahhs were spoken all over that room, and the attitudes were immediately changed.  Thanks were spoken, and that mom and her cute little boy left.  It was quickly back to business as usual, with all the packages and stamps and all, but for a small group of us who just happened to be lucky enough to be in the lobby at that time, perspectives and attitudes were changed.

At least they were for me, anyway.

photo image from

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Probably Not What Queen Had In Mind (but I like it)

I have always loved puppet shows.  It seems like most of the churches I have been a part of have incorporated them in some way.  The itty-bitty church I grew up in even had them.  I can still see the exact movements of the blue headed and the bald headed puppets as they sang "Excuses, Excuses, you hear them everyday...".  My church now doesn't have them in 'big church', but they were definitely the highlight with my boys when they were in preschool.

I have noticed this particular puppet presentation on Facebook for a couple of weeks now, but just watched it for the first time this morning.  Wow--puppet shows sure have changed.  I can't even imagine Mrs. Nance, the 80-something year old puppet director at one of my churches, even for one minute considering allowing 'her puppets' to perform something like this.  But, it sure did make me smile this morning.

Bethlehemian Rhapsody
Bethlehemian Rhapsody
Now, I'm thinking about the power of music to encourage and change funky attitudes.  So, in my continuing effort to clear out my CD collection, I am giving away a couple of CDs today.  Today's giveaways are A Christmas Reunion and Christmas Dance Hits (like a techno-remix of Christmas classics).  If you would like either of them (and live in the continental US), just leave a comment telling which CD you would like, as well as your favorite happy song--that song that always makes you smile.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pizza for Thanksgiving Dinner?

Two more short videos from the Skit Guys, then on to my own food prep.

Thanksgiving: God’s Goodness

All Mom Wants For Thanksgiving

You know what I am thankful for?  People who read these posts. So, in appreciation, I have 3 freebies to giveaway today.  Just comment if you are interested in either of these items:  CD-Your Love Broke Through (the worship songs of Keith Green); DVD - The Nuttiest Nutcracker (cartoon); and book - Cam Jansen - The Mystery of the Stolen Diamonds.  I can ship in the continental U.S.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Living With Four Y Chromosomes

Boys are different.  Growing up with brothers and being friends with a lot of girls who had brothers, I kind of had a jump start into this different world and reality of what it means to be a boy.  Boys are loud and tough.  They love to wrestle.  Good hygiene is optional.  Cleanliness in general is relative.  They will turn anything into weapons, and follow the beat of an entirely different drummer than girls do. 

And this is a good thing.  A very good thing, as a matter of fact.

I love being the mom to boys.  I can still remember the moment I realized that life in our home would always be different and that I was in the minority.  It wasn’t when we say the ultrasound for boy #1 that it hit, or even when he was born.  It was about a year later and I was sitting on the floor folding clean clothes.  Before he came along, there had been only three piles—one for me, one for my husband, and one for the towels.  Now, there were four piles, and the new one looked very much like my husband’s pile, just with smaller dimensions.  Over the years, we’ve added two more boy piles, and the dream of ever having all of the clothes washed at one time has become just that – a dream.

Like a lot of parents, I have read a lot of books and articles over the years about boys.  I have listed to radio broadcasts from Focus on the Family and Family Life Today.  And, of course, there has been the on the job training.  I have used and stored away some good information.  There have been books that I have skimmed over, and some that I have kept for future reference.  So, when I got the opportunity to review the book Raising Real Men, by Hal and Melanie Young, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  The subtitle was Surviving, Teaching and Appreciating Boys (good subtitle--and philosophy).  I figured there would be some good information, but didn’t know how much would be recycled from other sources.

I began reading it a couple of months ago, and was immediately struck by how different this book is.  It is part informational, part guidebook, and part resource materials.  But, it goes beyond that.  Covering topics such as discipline, games and warfare, the Youngs address these areas in extremely practical and boy specific ways (and yes, boy specific ways do matter).  Here are just a few of the hundreds of nuggets of wisdom that stood out for me:

"Without question, we have an absolute responsibility to give our children physical protection; they are dependent on our care to provide their food, clothing, and shelter, and to shield them from those who would exploit or abuse them in some way.

That protection shouldn't become the unmanning of our sons, though.  Boys need to have the freedom to take reasonable risks.  You don't let them play in traffic, but you shouldn't cringe in horror as they climb the jungle gym.  If they grow up fearful of risk, they are missing an important part of being a man.  A carefully considered risk, prayerfully undertaken, is not recklessness."  (page 51)

On Racing to Win:

"Mothers are made to nurture.  They want everyone to be happy.  They want everyone to win.  They try to rewrite the rules of our board games so no one loses, and delight to find toys that feature "cooperative play." It extends into the schoolroom, too:  the idea of cooperative learning where students work together in groups and everyone shares the same work and same grade was definitely invented by women.

Boys just don't think that way.  They love to try their strength, whether physical, intellectual, or emotional, against others.  They want to see where they stack up.  They love to compete; they love to win, and sometimes they would rather lose than not try.  Maybe some boys seem to avoid competitions, but they probably just haven't had a chance to compete on their strengths.  It's deep seated in the male psyche."  (pages 101-102)

On Love and War (and by extension, sex):

This is plainly an area where parents aren't talking with one another.  Mothers we've met, particularly homeschooling mothers, seem to be in denial about their children's sexuality.  It's as if the kids never quite leave the baby stage -- you know, when you dress the little girls in pink and the little boys in blue because, frankly, they still look identical any place but the bath tub.  Moms worry that talking to their children about sex will destroy their innocence and expose them to a Pandora's box of temptations.

Fathers know better, if they're honest about it.  They know that temptation is an ongoing battle for nearly every man, and it starts much earlier than most women realize.  Boys don't need exposure to anything to find sexual temptation; all the pleasure points are easily accessible, and they discover that fact before they can talk about it.  Parents will correct outward behavior that might be embarrassing ("Get you finder out of your nose! Keep your hands out of your pants!") but without some broader principle of why and how to avoid that temptation, curiosity will hatch into fascination and progress to real problems later on.  Peeking at risque magazines when they're ten years old is way down the road from the starting point."  (Page 199)

Good, good stuff.  If good information was already out there, they didn't reinvent the wheel.  Useful ideas were included and referenced on almost every page.  Topics included chores, stewardship, money, weapons and respecting women, among many others.  I can not recommend this book enough.  If it seems like you have all of the boy raising info that you need, you don’t.  You really should consider checking this book out as well.  I have learned so many new strategies and ways of looking at situations, and I have always considered myself well read on the subject.  I think that is why it has taken me so long to read the entire book.  It isn’t the ‘read and digest in one setting’ kind of book.  I’ve had to ponder it and apply it on a regular basis.  As I read Raising Real Men, I was reminded of the importance of what it is that I am called to do.

I am raising leaders.  Maybe not of ‘big’ things like companies or governments (but maybe I am), but they will most definitely be leaders of their families.  The question is—will they be strong, confident leaders, or weak-kneed, hen pecked leaders?  While I am not the final determiner in that outcome, I do have a very important role in their preparation.  And this book certainly helps provide a battle plan for me.  This one is definitely a keeper.  You can even read a sample chapter (the one about wrestling and physical assertion) here.

You can find more information about Raising Real Men here. You can also find additional parenting helps and boy friendly outdoor learning activities at Timberdoodle.  They also have one of the best homeschool catalogs that I have seen in a very long time.  You can request a free catalog here.

Disclaimer:  As a member of Timberdoodle's Blogger Review Team I received a free copy of Raising Real Men in exchange for a frank and unbiased review.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Little Happies

Last week I came across a really good deal at the local bookstore, and bought up several copies of Mandisa's CD, what if we were real.  I gave them out to the sweet ladies that help me teach my class on Sunday, and have one left.  So...

If you would like me to send you this CD, just be the first to comment.  This one is for continental US readers only--sorry.

For everyone else--one of my favorite Mandisa songs:

Friday, October 28, 2011

Footloose and Courageous--A Time to Dance

A couple of weeks ago, I went to see the movie Footloose, and wrote about my impressions of it here.  After that movie ended, I walked out of the theater and into the next showing of the movie Courageous, just a couple of screens away.  I don't normally get to see a movie in theaters very often, much less two movies in the same afternoon, but the stars lined up for me that day (meaning a grandmother showed up unexpectedly to watch the kids, and I found some serendipitous money in a shirt pocket).

I don't know if you have seen Courageous, or even heard of it.  A lot of my Facebook friends had seen it and given it status shout-outs, but I hadn't really seen it promoted very much, so I didn't really know what to expect.  I knew enough to take some extra toilet paper from the theater bathroom in with me, because it had a weepiness potential to it.  I probably should have taken a whole roll in, though.  It was that moving and that good.

The story follows 5 men (4 of them police officers), as they work, share life, struggle, and try to be good men, husbands and fathers.  Definitely not the kind of movie that is normally offered to the public.  You know, the ones with idiot men (and women) who are selfish and flighty and vulgar.  THIS movie was good.  And touching.  And thought-provoking.  It was very well made, and has been holding its own with the current movie releases for several weeks now.

I've found myself making comparisons between the two movies quite a bit, particularly with regards to a few of the fathers in the movies.  Both movies feature fathers who make tough decisions for their teenage daughters, based on their desire to be the kind of fathers that they feel God has called them to be.  They love their daughters, and they know too well the dangers of not placing protective barriers aaround their children.  They want to do the right thing, even when it is hard.  They both realize that they are not called to be their daughters' friends, but their fathers.

What is interesting to me, however, is how this protection is portrayed in each movie.  In 'Footloose', the father (Shaw) is acting out of a place of fear and control, and his daughter (Ariel) rebels against it completely, with potentially life altering consequences.  Ariel has no respect for her father or his rules.  However, in Courageous, there is also a father who has placed strict boundaries on his teenage daughter's behavior.  Although she does not fully appreciate her father's rules, she abides by them out of respect for her father, knowing that he has her back.  His protection is based on a long standing commitment and love.  And the speech he gives her at that restaurant with the promise ring?  Oh. My. Goodness.  It made me almost wish I had a girl.  Almost.  It sure did leave me hoping that my future daughters-in-law are being raised by daddies like that.

Then you have the whole dancing thing.  Anyone with even the most basic knowledge of Footloose probably knows where that father stood on the issue of dancing.  Maybe he needs a lesson in dancing from another of the Courageous fathers.  I had to keep my eyes closed for 'that' dancing scene--my measly tissue had gotten soaked way too early to make it through that scene unscathed.

Three fathers.  All loved God and their children.  All wanted to protect.  Some did a better job of it than the others.

Both movies have gotten me to thinking--what about me?  Am I doing a good job with my boys?  What lessons do I still need to learn, and am I willing to learn them?

Courageous (movie) Lauren Etchells as Emily Mitchell in ``Courageous.''

And, to take the comparison a little bit farther--I call God my 'heavenly Father', so I have to wonder:  what kind of daughter am I?

Werewolves, and Zombies, and Vampires--Oh, My!

Night of the Living Dead Christian
About a year ago, I read an amazing book called Imaginary Jesus, by Matt Mikalatos.  I was so intrigued and excited about it that I told just about every Christian reader I know about it.  It was such an interesting concept, and very original.  (You can read that review here). 

So, I was very excited to see that he had written a new book, called Night of the Living Dead Christian, with the subtitle ‘one man’s ferociously funny quest to discover what it means to be truly transformed’.  Again, it was such an interesting idea. This is how the back cover describes it:

Night of the Living Dead Christian is the story of Luther, a werewolf on the run, whose inner beast has driven him dangerously close to losing everything that matters.  Desperate to conquer his dark side, Luther joins forces with Matt to find someone who can help.  Yet their time is running out.  A powerful and mysterious man is on their trail, determined to kill the wolf at all costs…

This doesn’t sound like standard Christian fare.  In fact, that is why I think I like it so much.  I chose to review the book based solely on the fact that Mikalatos wrote it, and was curious to see what he would do with the whole monster thing.  I wasn’t sure I would like it as much as I did Imaginary Jesus, because it could come across as kind of silly or hokey.  But, like before, this book was brilliant. 

The general idea of the story is that a man (Matt) befriends his neighbor, who happens to be a werewolf that has driven his family away and is desperate to be released from his torture.  Thrown in are a mad scientist, his robot android, a vampire, a monster hunter and an ego-maniacal preacher, among others, who interact and deal with the monsters in various ways.  Beyond the very funny dialogue that combines pop culture humor with some pretty deep theological discussions, there is a story of how to deal with evil desires and impulses, and how to people spend so much energy keeping these impulses from becoming known or taking over.  In essence, it is a story of hope.

It is hard to explain just how Mikalatos does this so effectively, but a blurb by Publishers Weekly on the back cover sums it up very well:

“Startling, contemporary, meaningful…Mixing questions of suffering and free will with a nexus of weirdness, Mikalatos throws Christian fiction into the world of Comic-Con and Star Wars.”

The older I get, the more I embrace weirdness and Comic-con-ness.  For an author to be able to produce a work that not only incorporates these types of quirks, but celebrates them, while at the same time not diluting the message of Jesus, is someone I want to continue to read and support.

You can find out more about Night of the Living Dead Christian and Matt Mikalatos at  You can also read the first chapter here and check out a short video from Matt Milalatos here.

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of Night of the Living Dead Christian from Tyndale publishers for review purposes.  No other compensation was received.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Everybody, Everybody Cut Footloose!

Like a lot of other people my age - those of us who had the privilege of growing up in the 80s - I was more than a little skeptical when I heard that someone was doing a remake of the movie Footloose.  Not many remakes can stand up to the nostalgia factor of a good original, especially iconic movies.  And Footloose was definitely iconic.  Catchy music, teen angst, dancing feet/shoes, Ren reading out of Ecclesiates (a time to mourn, a time to dance...)--the works.  I can't tell you the last time I saw the original, but I can still remember the lines, lyrics and moves.  Maybe that is because I saw it before the beginning of the brain cell die off after each kid.

Anyway, so I went to see the remake today more out of curiosity than excitement.  I had heard that the theme song was a country version, and not Kenny Loggins, but that was about all I knew going in to the theater.  There weren't many other people there, which probably doesn't bode well for opening weekend box office receipts.

It turned out to be a very good remake, in my opinion.  Large portions of it were lifted out of the original, with the same dialogue, reactions, and even the lighting of the scenes.  The music was very different in places, but it seemed to fit.  The characters were well cast, and made the roles their own.  There were a few significant changes, such as why Ren moved to town, and his relationship with his uncle, which I liked even better in this updated version.

However, the drama and the angst and the dialogue in this version were definitely increased.  I remember this to some extent from when I was a teenager, but seeing it as a parent and middle school teacher made me filter it in a very different way.  It is not a movie that I would want my younger children to see, and I cringe just thinking about the words and phrases and images that will now be impressed on the minds of the many students that I know will have seen Footloose.  It is rated PG-13 for a reason.  There are very good, detailed movie reviews online, and I wish more parents would us that as a form of review criteria before ever taking their kids to any movie.  But I digress...

A key scene in Footloose is when Ren is giving his speech to the town council, trying to make his case for why the Senior class should be allowed to have a dance within city limits.  He states how it won't be too long before they all graduate, and have jobs and families with responsibilities, and won't be able to really enjoy life like they are able to as a teenager.  I remember me and the girls I was with cheering out loud in the theater years ago, like we totally agreed with him and appreciated his stand for teenagers everywhere.

There wasn't any cheering today from the group I was surrounded by.  But I sure had a big grin on my face just remembering.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Quote of the Day - Einstein

Everyone is a genius.

                         But if you judge a fish
                         on its ability to climb a tree,

                         it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.

                                                                             - Albert Einstein

Friday, October 7, 2011

Pretty little girls in teeny, tiny dresses

I am a mom. To three boys.  No girls.  As an exclusive 'boy mom', I am sure that I see things a little differently than mixed-gender or girl only parents.  I am deeply aware that, for better or for worse, I am the model of what it means to be female, for a little while at least.  I lay the groundwork for ideas and standards they will carry into marriage and what they will look for (or not look for) in a wife.

I am not a girly-girl.  Not anymore at least.  Being girly and cute takes time and money and thought, which I have precious little of these days.  I can name many friends and acquaintances that are still girly and very stylish in their 40s and 50s (and beyond), and it almost always makes me smile to see them.  How they pull it off, I can't even imagine.  If I had time to think about it, I would probably envy them--but I don't, and that's probably for the best.  In the meantime, I do what I can with what I've got.  I do have a neon pink laundry room, if that counts for anything (probably not).

I want my boys to value girls and treat them like something precious.  Not just for how they look, which I realize is important, but for who those girls are.  Do they care about others?  Are they selfish?  Are they giving and kind, or do they complain about anyone and everything?  And this one is a biggie:

Are they modest?

This is a tough one for many people to define.  It is kind of like obscenity or pornography--I may not be able to specifically define it, but I know it when I see or hear it.  And sadly, I'm not seeing a lot of it these days.  And Facebook isn't helping, especially when I go trolling around on my teenager's news feed.  This is homecoming week at the local high school, and apparently there are all manner of occasions to dress up in pretty clothes.  Now, don't get me wrong, these girls (and guys) sure do look nice, and lots of couples are all color coordinated for their pictures.  (How in the world do those parents afford the whole package--dress, mani-pedi, hair stylist, etc.--is beyond me). What really concerns me is how little material the girls are actually wearing.

This year the dress style for girls seems to be short--very short--and off one shoulder or both.  They look pretty--all sparkly and shiny.  But I look at the couples all hugged up, knowing that they will driving away from whoever's house that they took that picture in with no adult supervision, and I wonder what those parents are thinking.  Do they not realize how teenage boys (OK, boys of all ages past 11) think?  Don't they know that boy is going to struggle all night long with wanting to touch that pretty exposed shoulder, and is probably thinking how easy it would be to yank that dress down that is barely covering anything anyway?  Even if they are 'just friends', why would you want to place your child in that situation?

I realize this sounds extreme and prudish.  I know that, and I'm OK with it.  I don't need the whole 'your kids are so sheltered--that is just how kids are nowadays' speech.  I just want to give my boys a fighting chance to keep their hearts and minds and bodies pure for that one person one day.  I want them to think their wives are the most beautiful people in the world, even if one day they are scarred and wrinkled and worn out.

So, parents of girls, if you could model and teach and encourage modesty, you sure would make my job a little easier.  I am trying to do my part to give you sons-in-law that you can be proud of.

Monday, September 5, 2011

I could water ski when I was three

We just got in from a week long vacation a couple of hours ago.  It was a great one.  Relaxing.  We stayed at a 800 square foot house with an itty-bitty yard.  On the other side of that yard, though, was a big old lake.  I spent many hours on the back porch just reading and looking at the waves.  And swimming.  I love swimming.

It just so happened to be the same lake that I spent hours, and hours, and hours playing in when I was growing up.  I was, by far, a water baby.  My parents had a boat, so I was an early water skier, and had a kick tail tan.  Until college, anyway.  Then, as more and more of my friends moved away, I spent less time IN the water, and more time looking AT it when I came home.  Then, the babies came, and gravity pulled more and more on all body parts, and time constraints kicked in.  My kids may spend a few hours each summer at the lake with my parents, but that has been about it.

Not this week, though.  I didn't just sit on the sidelines watching my kids play in the water.  I got in there with them, for a little while each day, anyway.  I remember sitting at our apartment pool a couple of years ago, watching the kids playing, with all of the parents (myself included) on the sides, watching or reading or texting, but rarely getting in the pool with the kids.  The closest thing to adults being in the pool were the single, twenty somethings taking a dip to cool off while they were laying out.

One day I had an epiphany of sorts.  I decided that it was crazy for the kids to be the only ones playing and having fun at the pool.  Did the statute of limitations on having fun in the water expire when a person's body was no longer cute, or small, or toned, or tan?  Was I going to let myself be a former water baby has been (wait, I'm not sure that makes sense...).  I decided that I wasn't, so I found a totally mismatched, unattractive swimsuit, and a few days later I went swimming with my kids.  And I wasn't just swimming; I was doing flips and dives off the side of the pool.  I used to do it all the time, so why not now?  I figured that I had better do it while I could, because the forties were now a reality, and who knew how much longer my body would hold out.

Little did I know that just a few months later, I would be in a car accident that would seriously hinder any attempts to walk correctly again, much less dive and flip.  More on that, and how I've adapted my expectations--but not my convictions about doing what I can, while I can--next time.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

"Why don't you go back to your double wide and FRY something!"

Just a few random thoughts for the day:

--There is a tropical storm heading this way.  It has stalled somewhat over New Orleans, and is causing major havoc with flooding.  I hate it for all those folks.  I have had this morbid fascination with going swimming in my childhood lake in pre-hurricane force winds since I was in elementary school.  Some big hurricane hit on the coast one year, and my older brother and his friends were able to go out on somebody's sailboat.  I wasn't allowed to tag along.  And now, three decades later, I still wish I could do it--riding along the white caps in the few hours before the lightning and rains come in.  Oh, well.  It is not therapy worthy or anything.  Just something I still wish I could do one day.

--I wish there was a Whole Foods grocery store in my area.  Or at least my state.

--I wish the stores in my area that do sell natural foods would make them reasonably priced.

--I wish more people in my area wanted to buy natural foods.  Then, maybe demand would lower the supply price.

--"Sweet Home Alabama" is on TV right now.  It is one of those shows I usually stop on when I am channel surfing.  So much fun to watch.

--According to my Facebook friends, college football is back.  This seems to be a very big deal.  I loved going to games when I was actually in college, but they hold no appeal whatsoever for me now.  The Saints, on the other hand...

--I'm pretty sure that whole empty nest thing is going to pass me on by.  Bring it on.

How is that for random?

Friday, September 2, 2011

And we knew who we were then...

Today's blog question:  How did you feel about returning to school at the end of the summer?

This one is easy enough.  I loved it.  I was smart enough, and popular enough, and outgoing enough (and apparently, also humble enough!) to do well in the school setting.  Since school didn't start at the beginning of August like it does around here now, it really did seem to symbolize the change in seasons.  I loved the ballgames, and blue jeans, and bus rides with friends.  School was not stressful at all for me, but more of a fun time to socialize.  Being a good enough memorizer and test taker took the frustration out of the actual school work.  This seemed to be the case with most of my friends. 

I do remember feeling sad for my classmates that did not thrive in that type of setting, though, whether it was academically or socially.  It was obvious that back to school for them meant back to purgutory.  I don't think that has changed very much over the years.  In a society and culture that values looks, money, smarts, and athletic abilities, school can be a dog eat dog world for those that don't measure up.  Yet another reason I have chosen to homeschool my kids.

But for me, back in the day?  Bring it on.  Plus, since we were home before 3:00, my friends and I could still put in a good hour or so of laying out time before we had to hurry home to get the house straightened up before momma got home.

(Singing out in my best Edith Bunker voice)--Those were the da-a-a-a-a-a-ys!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

WWJD? -- (I'm afraid I would be OUT of there)

View Mugabe co...jpg in slide show

I have finally finished reading Mugabe and the White African, written by Ben Freeth.  It was not an easy read, or an enjoyable one for that matter.  It reminded me of The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom in that respect.  One big difference between those two books, however, is that The Hiding Place tells of events that happened many years before I was even born.  Mugabe and the White African, on the other hand, chronicles horrible, shameless events that are happening as I type.

I wrote some of the background of the story in my last post.  Robert Mugabe is the current President in Zimbabwe, and he has openly and unapologetically changed that country's constitution to make it illegal for any white person to own land there.  In essence, all land is controlled by the government, and the land is taken from the white farmers and 'redistributed' to black peasants--on paper, anyway.  Freeth tells the story of his family's history with being African residents and landowners, and details Mugabe's reign of terror in much detail.  He documents specific dates, encounters, interactions and legal battles that have occurred over the years, which helps explain why Zimbabwe has gone from a land of prosperity to one of the poorest countries on earth in the relatively short time that Mugabe has been in power.

Of particular interest is the background and outcome of the international court case filed by Freeth's father-in-law, Mike Campbell, against Mugabe.  After many delays and postponements, the courts (in Namibia, not Zimbabwe) ruled in favor of Campbell, stating that the white landowners could retain ownership of their land. It was a great civil rights victory, but totally ignored by Mugabe and his government.  Freeth goes on to tell of how his family lived in constant fear, and their farms completely destroyed by Mugabe's henchmen anyway.  Mr. Campbell was so severely beaten, that he died just a few months ago from injuries sustained from ONE of the times he was beaten up.

There are so many details and stories in this book that bear knowing and repeating.  I couldn't help but think of the quote; "All it takes for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing".  Mr. Freeth was very clear in this book that he and his family feel called by God to fight this battle.  He wishes there were many others alongside them, but even if all leave, his family will continue to stand as long as possible to confront what he characterizes as pure evil and satanic forces.  I have heard various missionaries to Africa say that although it is something that most Westerners just can't grasp, the powers of evil and destruction are very real and evident is so many places there.  It sounds like just the kind of setting where Christ followers should be fighting, and this book chronicles one family's experiences with that so effectively.

This book has also provided much material for me and my husband to talk about.  Would I be willing to do what this family has done?  At what point do you just give up and give in and leave?  Do you potentially sacrifice your family for a belief?  How effective can being a martyr be?  Is it providential that I received this book to review?  Is it providential for anyone who might read this blog?  What do we do with this information now?

You can find out more about Mugabe and the White African and what others thought of this book at the Litfuse Blog Tour.  There is the opportunity to win a $50 Amazon gift certificate just for helping to spread the word about the book on Facebook or Twitter.  PBS also recently aired a documentary with the same title, about the trial against Mugabe. It was very interesting, and covered some of the events in the book.  It can be seen here.

You can also pray...

Disclaimer:  I received a complementary copy of this book as a participant in the Litfuse Blog Tour.  No other compensation was received.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Ever Heard of Mugabe?

Have you ever heard of a country in Africa called Zimbabwe?  It used to be called Rhodesia.  I'm not sure why the name changed but it happened when I was in elementary school (I think).  Since 1980, Zimbabwe has been ruled by a man named Mugabe (Moo GAH bee).  I tell myself that I am pretty up to speed on world events and civil rights abuses, but this one has gone completely under the radar for me.

I have been reading a book called Mugabe and the White African, which has just recently been released.  The atrocities this leader has committed are horrible.  He has systematically driven his country into poverty and desperation in an attempt to force every white person in his country to leave and abandon their farmland, so that he can turn around and give it away to political supporters.  If they don't leave of their own volition, then his henchmen beat the residents until they are brutally killed.  He is vocal about his intentions, and has compared himself favorably to Hitler.

Under his regime, Zimbabwe has gone from the number 3 food producer in the world, to the lowest producer with abject poverty.  It has gone from a 90% literacy rate to almost 0%.  The life expectancy has gone from 69 y/o for women and 64 y/o for men, to 37 for men and 34 for women--the worst life expectancy in the world.

Apparently, this is no secret.  There are UN sanctions galore, and many countries, including the US, have imposed their own sanctions.  It is also common knowledge that he has rigged and sabotaged his 're-elections'.  So, why isn't anything being done?  I don't know what the answer is, but there has to be something.  How many lives could have been saved if someone had tried to stop him sooner?

What if the world had taken the same stance with Hitler?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Attitude Check

Last night I was cutting a bell pepper and sliced into my thumb.  It bled, and hurt(s), a lot.  After several minutes of dealing with that--hot running water, ice cube compression, and a tightly placed band-aid thanks to my dad--I went on with the whole process of getting ready to grill out.  Only, everything had to be modified in a way that was less effective.  It is just harder to dice, slice, and chop without use of a thumb.

As I was trying to wash the dishes later without getting my thumb wet, I was mentally taken back to the months after my car wreck over a year ago.  While the bulk of my mental and physical energy was spent on dealing with my broken knees and leg braces and everything else associated with that, I also had to deal with a fracture in my left hand that required a finger to elbow cast.  It was not as 'major' in the medical sense, but caused me all manner of problems with my rehab.  The entire process of moving and going to the bathroom and giving myself sponge baths for a couple of months, and everything else for that matter, would have been exponentially easier if I had been about to use the left side.  But I couldn't, so I learned to adapt, and am still dealing with the structural consequences today.

So, last night, I was faced with the same choice I have had to make every day now:  do I get angry and have a pity party, or do I just go on doing my thing as well as I can?  If there is one thing I have learned from all this, it is that I may not can control what happens to me, but I can control my attitude about it all (after I weaned my self off those pesky pain meds, that is).

Because, regardless of how I feel about it, those dishes aren't going to just wash themselves.

Friday, August 19, 2011

I still like the Walkman, and I don't text, either.

Today's blog question:  Do I prefer paper books, or e-readers?

I have pretty much fought the whole e-reader genre from the beginning.  I had no desire to even try it out, even after my husband got an iPad and free book apps.  Then, we were travelling in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the night, and I gave it a try.  I have to admit, it did not take long for me to see the appeal of it all.  The cost.  The portability.  The lighted night time reading.  I finished a couple of his books that way, and have even reviewed a couple of more since then that were free.

That being said, nothing quite beats the feel of an actual, paper book.  Being able to see how much I've read and how far there is left to go.  I think I'm able to enjoy and process it better that way.  I don't foresee that changing anytime soon.

I guess I'm just stuck in the old 80s technological era.  I'm OK with that.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Short Answer? The Scarlet Letter

Today's blog question:  What is the last book you read?

Well, like most book lovers, I seldom read just one book at a time.  I tend to be reading out of several books at any given time, unless there is a particular one that I want to read quickly from start to finish.  My next book like that is on its way from Amazon right now, which is book 2 in the MonsterGrrls series.  (This series was written by my old high school friend, John Rose.  Check his stuff out at the Monster Shop).

Since school is starting back up, I have to concentrate more of my reading time on my boys' school work.  Right now, I am reading Red Sails to Capri with the youngest, and The 13th Reality with the middle one.  My oldest is reading on his own, so I just finished reading the first book on his reading list, The Scarlet Letter.  I had never read this book, and found it to be bit of a challenge because of the writing style.  I don't think my son is going to like it very much, but I do want to discuss the main themes with him.  He asked me this morning if he could just watch the movie--"even one of those old gray (meaning black and white) movies if I have to".  My answer?  "You know this isn't public school".  Yes, apparently the bulk of the local high school's history, literature, and social studies classes are taught my Netflix.

I am also reading a review book called Mugabe and the White Africans.  It is a fascinating look at the 'leader' of Zimbabwe (in Africa), and his tyrannical rule. I had never heard of him, or that country's story.  I'll have that review up next week.

So, what are you reading right now?  Really, I'm curious...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Spicy Water = Perrier

Today's blog question:  What is your favorite book store?

Ooh, I do like book stores.  All kinds and sizes.  The earliest one I remember was called Bookland at the Village Fair Mall.  My mom liked to read as much as I did, so we would spend quite a lot of time there if we were at the mall.  I don't know what kind books she looked at, but I would always head straight to the back right corner--the kid's section.  I'm pretty sure looking back on it that I wasn't supposed to do this, but I would pick out something that looked good, and just sit down on the floor and read until mom said it was time to go.

Bookland (and that mall) have long since closed down, but my love for book stores has remained strong.  I like Borders and Barnes & Noble as much as the next person, but my current favorite is an independent book store called Lemuria.  It is not a huge store, but it feels like walking into a real book land with the extra high celings and every inch of wall space covered floor to ceiling with books of all kinds and sizes.  There are nooks and crannies, with book displays in the aisles.  There is a Mississippi section (Mississippians have written A LOT of good stuff) and an absolutely amazing kid section called Oz.  They sponsor all kinds of book readings and signings, and the staff is very knowledgeable and helpful.  I like the overwhelming 'bookiness' of it all.

It doesn't feel like a book mill that is just promoting the book du jour.  It seems to be promoting a pure love for and appreciation of books.  Not to mention that right downstairs is a bakery that sells the most amazing bread and hummus and spicy water.  A good book, a croissant, and a decaf cafe au lait.  What could be better than that?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

You just can't beat free - (Thank you, Ben Franklin)

Today's blog question:  Do you prefer to own books or borrow them from a friend or the library?

I have always loved books.  One of my earliest memories is of a friend of my mom's knocking on the door and giving her a bag of books that her kids had outgrown.  It was like Christmas that day.  And for most of my life, I have spent any extra money on my own books.  I have them on every flat surface of the house--bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and living room, so that I can have something to read within reach when the urge hits.

One big difference now is that for the past several years, I have almost made a complete switch in my book reading habits.  Now, I try to borrow them from the library if at all possible.  Part of this is simple economics--they don't make you pay for the books at the library.  Another part is the whole clutter aspect.  A lifetime of books makes for a headache of clutter.  Plus, with the multiple moves we have had in the past few years, it has been harder and harder to get the same people to graciously volunteer their moving services when they remember the sheer volume of boxes we have containing nothing but books.  In fact, I have slowly but surely been donating or giving away books for a while now.  At first it went against everything in me to pass those books on, but now I see it as freeing.

Freeing up more space on the shelves for my newest obsession (free review books), that is

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Why Weren't There Thousands More?

I went to a prayer vigil/walk for James Craig Anderson tonight.  My husband and two youngest kids were with me.  And so were hundreds of other people.  As we were walking down a main street in Jackson, singing 'We Shall Overcome', I was struck by the sadness of the situation.  Why in the world are we still dealing with this mess?  I know racism is about as old as mankind itself, so I don't know if there will ever be a lasting solution.  I do know that I don't want to be part of the problem.

What that looks like exactly, I don't know.  I'm pretty sure I'll be fleshing it out here, though.

"All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing"--Edmund Burke

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Magic of Legos and Dollar Store Toys

In my area, most public and private schools started today.  At our house, no.  I don't even have a definite 'start' day yet, but as my kids have gotten older I have found it to be easier to try and stay as close to the public school year as possible.  I learned that the hard way when they got up old enough to hear their Sunday School teachers say, "Aren't y'all excited about getting out of school next week?", and we still had a good couple of month's material left.  Not the makings of a good summer.

It is hard to believe that I have a decade of homeschooling behind me--and possibly a decade more to go.  There have been numerous changes in curriculum and location and philosophy and excitement levels through the years, but one thing has remained constant:  the first day of school.  It is my one chance every year to create the illusion that school is carefree and easy and fun at our house.  (For those of you who truly have a fun homeschool experience--good for you.  Seriously.  Don't take that for granted).  For my kids, it is like Christmas in August.  Or September.  Or October... I know the time is nearing, though, because all of my boys are asking, "When can WE start school so we can get our cool stuff?".  In our house, that first day is a BIG DEAL

It goes something like this--on the morning school starts, the boys wake up to a stash of materials, supplies, and toys that is marked with a poster board that has their name, grade and year on it.  They aren't allowed in the living room until everyone is awake and I give them permission to go for it. When they were little, I could get away with giving them their workbooks and manipulatives and new crayons, with a small Lego kit added in for good measure.  As they have gotten older, I have had to become a little more creative, as the actual curriculum materials in no way symbolize 'fun' for my boys.  Now we focus on craft kits, and science kits involving lizards and butterflies, and play-doh.  I have given DS games that have a learning component, and this year they are getting the newest Just Dance Wii game for PE, and a Phineas and Ferb Wii game as an added incentive of being able to play at night if they complete their work before a certain time each day.  Sometimes I will throw in a poster or frivolous ruler (you know, the ones that shine or bend or sing--and cost 68 cents instead of being on sale for 25 cents).

My high schooler still loves this part of the new school year, but it has gotten tougher to please him.  Play-doh just doesn't do it for him anymore.  I tend to buy a new CD or two, or an iTunes card, or a T-shirt.  This year some music lessons will be included, which we planned on getting for him anyway, but he might as well just think of it as a back-to-school goody.

We also have a tradition of buying a kit from Hobby Lobby that has pre-cut round paper, which they decorate with markers and then mail in (eventually), to be sent back a few weeks later as a plate.  They write their names and grade and year somewhere on the paper, and then decorate with their current favorite things - Mario, bugs, Perry the Platypus-stuff like that.  Each year they look at their plate stash and laugh at how they used to draw and what they used to like.  Me?  I just marvel at how quickly they are growing up.  Or that it is a whole year later and they still can't spell 'grade' or 'America'. 

They usually spend the whole morning playing or creating, and then we go out to eat for lunch, or go get frozen yogurt, or go bowling.  Something we don't ordinarily do.  In essence, our first day back to school isn't an actual school day at all.  The 'real' schooling starts the next day.  But for that one glorious day, we operate under the illusion that this year will go smoothly, and quickly, and will remain stress free.


It is nice to pretend, though.  And hey, isn't using your imagination part of the learning process?  Maybe I should write it down in their schedules as cognitive reasoning/instruction and count it as an actual school day after all. Now, if I can just locate where I put that schedule book at the end of last year...

2014 Update--Last year, instead of trying to guess what they would like or appreciate, I gave each of them a $50 gift card to Hobby Lobby.  They had to each pick out a science, art, creative, building kit and a couple of other categories that I can't remember right now, and the rest they could spend as they wanted.  This worked well, and is probably what we will do again this year.

They do still love their Legos, though.   Boys....

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Vacation tips from Caroline Ingalls

It is that time again.  Summertime.  Which, for many, means vacation time.  Interestingly enough, it also seems to correspond with several of my Facebook friends deciding to disable their accounts each year.  It turns out that reading all the posts and seeing the vacation photos just serves to drive them into a funk.  Call it weariness, or envy, or sadness—whatever the emotion—sometimes it is just too much of a reminder that their circumstances aren’t ‘as good’ as other people.  They know that more than likely their kids will never have an end of the summer, Disney/cruise/lion taming story to share with their friends.

I wish I could help them see that contrary to conventional wisdom, their kids aren’t doomed to a life of woe-is-me inadequacies.  A lot of that depends on the parent’s response and attitude.  For some (many?), money will always be tight and extravagant vacations will never be an option.  Work, bills, over-extendedness—these things can be an endless barrier.  Going to Disney World isn’t a rite of passage that guarantees well rounded, fully functioning adults.  When I am feeling the funky mindset coming on about this, all it takes is a couple of episodes of ‘Little House on the Prairie’ to straighten me up.  Forget Jamaica.  At least I don’t have to worry about hail destroying my crops and scarlet fever.  Not to mention that mean old Nellie.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am thrilled for every one of my friends that get to take their families ANY where, but especially the fun places.  I love seeing their pictures and hearing their stories, even the ones who are fortunate enough to go every year.  And, believe me, if I ever get to the place where everything is paid off and money isn’t an option, we are on the first plane out of here.  (First stop—Univeral Studios/Harry Potter World). I guess I’m just lucky to have grown up in a time and place where vacations were rare, and simple, and weren’t an indicator of social status or self esteem.  Hopefully, I am passing that on to my kids, seeing as how their vacations have been simple at best.  I’ll keep telling myself that, at least until they are old enough to pay their own therapy bills.

Our vacation this year?  A combination trip to see a medical specialist and then on to a cut rate room that requires attendance at one of those time-share pitch meetings.  And, get this.  The two youngest boys are not even going to get to come.  I gave them plenty of notice that if they didn’t tone down their arguing, then they were staying home.  Guess what?  They are staying home.  Do I feel guilty about this?  Not even a little.  I would have done the same thing even if we were going to Disney for the first time.  Does that make me a mean momma?  Maybe.  But their character development is more important to me than their momentary happiness.

And if not—well, I guess that therapist will have plenty of material to work with one day.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Now I know why the Mob would crush people's knees...

I just read a blog post from a person I had never even heard of until today.  Ashleigh Burroughs was one of the people shot in Arizona alongside Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords a few months ago.  It was a sad and senseless tragedy, and her life will forever be different because of it.  She wrote about how something that used to be a mindless task - sitting down - now requires so much more energy and body mechanics that she could ever have imagined.  Her issue is with her hip.  Mine is with my knees.  Although my patellas are structurally 'healed' (they grew back together at the point of fracture), my knees and legs no longer work correctly.  They only bend about halfway, and they constantly hurt.  This affects every movement I make. This is not likely to improve any more.

I think that is why I appreciated her post so much.  I am not the only one facing life 'as it is now, and not how it used to be', and for some reason just being reminded of that makes my day a little brighter.

You can read Ashleigh's post entitled  "Sitting Through Jared Loughner's Competency Hearing"  here.

(I just read another of her posts that captures the essence of going through rehab.  I think I really like this Ashleigh Burroughs).

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Reluctant Queen - Did Esther REALLY love the King?

'You've read it as a Biblical tale of courage.  Experience it anew as a heart-stirring love story."

This is the tag line on the back cover of A Reluctant Queen (The Love Story of Esther), written by Joan Wolf. I signed on to review this book as part of a blog tour mainly because I really like the Biblical story of Esther.  I did a Beth Moore study on Esther a couple of years ago, and it was the most enjoyable and informative study that I have done in a while.  I love how Beth Moore brings out the details and background in her studies, as well as how she acknowledges how it is obvious that men wrote the Bible, because there are so many details that a woman would include that men would never even think of.  She posed many such questions about backstory in her study that I had never really considered before in regards to Esther, and I was intrigued to see how Wolf would address the story of Esther from a fictional standpoint.

The Reluctant Queen

I have to admit--I was somewhat leery, because any time you take a given set of facts and turn them into a full-fledged story, there is so much room for compromise and error.  And, to be honest, I was skeptical that it could be pulled off in a convincing manner.  However, I found that it was very easy for me to become involved and invested in the characters very early on. Wolf did a great job of creating a history and a setting and a story for the character of Esther, as well as Mordecai, Haman, and the King.  I had no problem separating her story from the Biblical story, which was good because MANY of the basic facts were changed or deleted, including character motivations and personalities, and many more details were created or speculated about. I think this will probably be problematic for readers who only want to read a strict retelling, because that is not what this book is intended to be.  I came away being even more intrigued with the actual story of Esther, because so many of her feelings and motivations are just not included.  How did she first hear about the beauty contest for potential candidates for Queen?  Was she excited, or nervous, or repulsed when she was chosen?  What were the feelings of the eunichs assigned to guard the King's harem?  Was Esther jealous of the other women?  I still don't know the answers to these questions, but I after reading this book I have more of an appreciation of the fact that regardless of the answers, these were issues that Esther would have had to experience in one way or another.

Esther is an intriguing, important Jewish historical figure.  A Reluctant Queen provides the reader with one writer's attempt to take that figure and create a love story for her.  Was Esther in love with her husband?  Did she respect him?  I don't know.  But in this book she did, and Wolf conveyed a love story in an interesting and thought-provoking manner. A reading group discussion guide included at the end of the book provided some of the best discussion questions that I have seen with regards to the book of Esther, and bring back the focus to how important her story is for believers across time and cultures.

You can read more about A Reluctant Queen and Joan Wolf here, including the first few chapters of the book.  You can also read what others in the blog tour thought about the book, as well as enter for a chance to win a Kindle.  I am sure that are many strong opinions being expressed from all sides.

Disclaimer:  I received a complementary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers for the purpose of participating in the blog tour.  No other compensation was received.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Not so "Super 8"

When I was a little girl in the 70's, I only heard three people use dirty words.  Three people.  One was my Uncle Brown.  He was grouchy and said 'what the hell?' a lot, but cooked the best catfish I had/have ever eaten, so it kind of balanced out.  The other two cussers were Jeff and Huffy, two brothers that lived down the road from me.  Their dirty vocabulary was more diverse.  They also looked at dirty magazines in the woods, and I never ever saw their parents, so I guess it was just kind of expected and accepted.  But that was it.  No movies or TV shows were allowed where folks talked bad.  It wasn't as much of a religious thing as it was a cultural thing.  When the TV put up a warning at 8:00 that the following show was not appropriate for young children, well, the young children had to go to bed.  Rated R meant no one under 17.  Period.

This started to change during the 80's, but for the most part was limited to movies.  VCRs were in the early stages, so I was not inundated with the stuff.  None of my friends cussed and no one in my family did, either.  Call me naive, but I miss that.  Now that mess is literally everywhere, and try as much as I like, I can't keep my children from it.  What makes me even more angry is how aggressively this is being marketed to my kids.  Case in point--the latest 'must see' movie of the week that is pushed on the kids - Super 8.

I didn't know much about Super 8 before reading the reviews.  I knew it had mostly a kid cast, with some big name adult players.  Another version of it was made several years ago by Steven Spielberg.  Critics weren't giving it much praise.  Of course, my teenager wanted to go, since many of his friends were going to see it.  So, as usual, I read the review from Plugged In Online.  As PG-13 movies go, this one was looking more promising than many others lately.  No suggestive sex stuff.  Then, I came to the language section:

One f-word and over 30 s-words lead the profanity pack, but barely. God's and Jesus' names are misused nearly 30 times. And there are over a dozen uses of "h‑‑‑." "A‑‑" and "d‑‑n" are spit out a handful of times each. We also hear "b‑‑ch," and "p‑‑‑y," "d‑‑k" and "douche" are used as put-downs.

Why?  Really, why?  It is bad enough when adults use this langauge, but in this movie it is mainly the kids.  Total desensitization.  No censoring by adults.  It just makes me sad.  I know I will go to my class of 11 year old girls in the morning who have seen the movie over the weekend.  They will probably be talking about how good it was, not even giving the language a second thought.

And that just makes me sad.

However, on a happier movie note, we did go see Kung Fu Panda 2 last week.  I give it two paws up.  It was tame, with a good message, and I wasn't slumping in my seat counting the minutes until it was over.  Looking forward now to Cars 2 in a couple of weeks.  Hopefully it will be as much fun as the first one.

You can read the entirePlugged In review of Super 8 here.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

In tha Muthahood

Anita Renfroe is a mother.  She is funny and always makes me laugh.  This is one of her videos that seems to be making the Facebook rounds lately.  In case you've missed it, I thought I would share.  I mean, how can you miss with lyrics like: 'Show respect to me 'cause you put the stretchmarks on these hips'.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Before and After Beauty - Bristol Palin

            After                                Before

Bristol Palin had 'facial surgery' recently.  She says it was not plastic surgery to improve her appearance, but to correct a jaw alignment problem.  Maybe that is totally true.  I don't know.  I do know that before and after pictures of her look very different.  You can read the TV Guide account here.

Both versions of her are very pretty.  I hope she didn't think she needed extra services to make her look prettier.  I hope she knows and values the importance of inner beauty, and seeks to develop that aspect as well.  I wish the comment makers on that TV Guide site were not so rude and mean.  Some were saying that she was much prettier before.  I hope she doesn't take those comments personally (right).  I hope other girls don't see drastic measures are necessary to define their own beauty.  Culture's definitions of beauty and worth can be so messed up.

That's what I think, anyway.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Osama bin Laden and armpits

It has been a very interesting 24 hours.  It was just about this time last night when most of the main TV stations had gone from their regular programs to await a statement by President Obama.  My husband and I were waiting to see what it would be, since it is very rare for a President to call a press conference on a Sunday at such a late time.  We speculated along with Facebook friends about what could be going on until it became known that Osama bin Ladin had been killed by a group of Navy Seals earlier that day.

Needless to say, this has been THE news item everywhere, and the subject of many Facebook and Twitter posts.  This is understandable, given the enormity of the situation.  However, I have been more and more discouraged over the tone of many of the posts I am reading.  Most people have very strong opinions on the matter, which is fine with me.  People whose opinions I respect have widely different views on it all.  Far extreme comments on all sides are quoting Scriptures to back up their opinions, and are not only convinced their insights are the best, but some are attacking each other for not holding to a particular party line.  For example, one of my friends shared a blog post that showed a picture of Jesus washing OBL's feet in an act of service.  Some understood the sentiment that Jesus died for OBL as well as themselves.  Others went ballistic, arguing (in a mean spirited manner) that they were offended by the image and its implications.  Of course Jesus is thrilled to have OBL taken out, so take that, you @#$%^&, which was then followed by another Bible verse.  Meanwhile, people all over who are skeptical of Jesus followers at best read on, and many are left with a bad taste about God.

I have my own opinions about God's take on it all.  The older I get, the more acutely I realize that the old saying hold a lot of truth:  opinions are like armpits; everybody has them and a lot of times they stink. I've learned it is best if I don't try to speak for God, at least about matters I am not absolutely certain about.  There are some things I KNOW to be true, though. Things like:

--God made me special, and He loves me very much (thanks, Bob and Larry)
--I'm just a sinner, saved by grace.
--He's still working on me, to make me what I ought to be.  It took Him just a week to make the moon and the stars, the sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars.  How loving and patient He must be--He's still working on me.
--Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.  Because He lives, all fear is gone.
--Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.
--Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world.  Red, brown, yellow, black and white.  They are precious in His sight.  Jesus loves the little children of the world.

Like so many other truths in my life, these are set to music.  I could go on and on, but I won't.  The dryer is about to quit and I don't want the clothes to get wrinkled.  One thing I am absolutely certain about is this:  There is a God, and I am not Him.  That helps me keep a reign on my words.  Most of the time, anyway.

That being said, I do want to share one tweet my husband received on Sunday night.  Not because it is true.  I just thought it was funny:

"Now we know why there was no Season 9 of '24'.  Good job, Jack."

(And there goes to dryer buzzer--time to get back to my real world.)

I hope you all have a blessed day.  And please remember to pray for those affected by the tornadoes last week.  Such devastation, as well as endless opportunities for people to be the real hands and feet of Jesus.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Quotable Quotes - Bono

"Grace defies reason and logic.  Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed because I've done a lot of stupid stuff."
                                                                                                   Bono (lead singer of the band U2)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Invisible Child - Omniscient God

A link to a blog showed up on my Facebook news feed today.  The title sounded interesting, so I clicked on and read it.  It was actually interesting and thought provoking.  The gist of it was that of a mother (the blog writer) watching as her daughter is continually ignored by other girls in social situations.  I think many parents can relate to her feelings of frustration and disappointment for her daughter--lots of us have weird, quirky kids that aren't necessarily appreciated like we wish they would be.  You can read her post 'When Your Child is Invisible' here.

Toward the end of her post, the writer wrote this:

Frankly, though, I am not a religious person and I don’t believe there is a higher power who could intercede on this hard road my little girl is traveling. I believe that it is down to us human beings here on this earth to regulate ourselves. I believed that the only way my child would get chosen for Little Sally Walker would be because someone noticed her and realized that she may want to participate in the game.

And then, a little later:

I don’t believe there is a god who will help us with this. I believe it’s up to us – to you, to me, to your kids, to my kids, to teachers, to playground monitors, to camp counselors, to Girl Scout leaders and bus drivers and cheerleaders.

My initial thought was, "How could she not see that since her daughter was picked after she voiced a prayer to no one in particular, that maybe there actually was a God that answered?".  I then said a quick prayer for her--this mom who is raising a daughter in a cruel, dog eat dog world.  If a parent doesn't believe in a God that makes each and every person special, then how can they not despair if their children don't fit into the perfect mold?  How do you teach the importance of valuing yourself and others simply because they 'are', and not because of what they look like or how socially adept they are, without some perfect standard to provide a true measure of worth?

I can't imagine trying to raise my 3 children without the assurance that someone bigger than me has their back, and is much more interested in their social development than I am.  Not social development in the world's economy, but in God's economy.  I was reminded of the countless hours of Veggie Tales, and Adventures in Odyssey, and Little Bill, and Sesame Street invested in my boys.  And Sunday School, and Scouts, and mission trips.  All providing a foundation for worth and character that will never be taught by society at large.

I'm just reminded of the feelings of futility and frustration of navigating life and parenting apart from the shelter of Christ. We live in a time when some people think they have to do it all on their own, and that makes me sad.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

All By Myself...

I am by myself.  Everyone else in my house has gone fishing or something.  It doesn't matter where they are, because I am here.  Alone.  That is very rare for me and I have realized that the way I spend these alone times is very different from what it was just a few years ago.  Whenever all the boys would go to the grandparents for a few days (or hours), I would clean.  Or work on scrapbooks.  Or go out to eat and see a movie (I have never been one of those that was embarrassed to go out by myself).  Things are different now.  It makes no sense to do any cleaning other than the basics.  It would only last for about 2 minutes after they walked in the door anyway.  I would need about a month to even make a dent in those scrapbooks, and it is just easier to not even eat for a while.  Cheaper, with less clean up.

Now, silence is a luxury, so I stay holed up and listen to nothing I don't want to.  No questions, no fights to deal with, not a single "Mom!".  The noise of choice today is Pandora music.  I am very late getting on this boat, but it is amazing.  I just type in either Jimmy Buffett or Frank Sinatra, and those computer powers-that-be send me the best music.  If I don't like it, I just tap a button and it is gone.  How nice.

I am rambling now, but I've been thinking about cool stuff I've discovered in the few hours they've been gone, and wanted to share them here, because they are very intriguing and interesting.

1.  The latest video by the Skit Guys.  I have always loved the story they are talking about.  Go tell the disciples AND PETER (not Simon.  Still Peter).  Here it is:

2.  A blog by an old college friend.  We worked together one summer at a GA camp, and I lost touch with her after that, until Facebook (of course).  She has one of the most encouraging blogs I am aware of.  She is the mom of 4 amazing kids, including 2 sons who have Cerebral Palsy.  You really should check her out at

3.  I actually watched a movie on TV last night.  It came out in 2001, so I was busy with babies then, but I am glad I finally saw it.  It is called 'I am Sam', starring Sean Penn and a very young Dakota Fanning, and was about a 'retarded' man whose daughter is taken by social services because they say he isn't able to adequately take care of her.  It was interesting and thought provoking, with excellent acting.  I don't know, I just liked it, in a sad, disturbing kind of way.

Here's one last epiphany for the day:  Moms don't think in terms of whether or not the glass is half empty or half full.  They just know that they are going to be the ones that have to clean that glass eventually.  :)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Book Review - Dirty Girls Come Clean

Product Details

Dirty Girls Come Clean
Written by:  Crystal Renaud
Moody Publishers
156 pages, softcover

Dirty Girls Come Clean is part testimonial, part resource and part informational.  It is also 100% needed.  It is the story of Crystal Renaud's personal journey through addiction to pornography and her recovery process.  In fact, this book came about as a result of her search for resources to assist in the recovery journey, and not finding any that adequately addressed the specific issues and needs of women facing this particular addiction.

Part of the book adapts a technique used in many sexual addiction recovery programs called SCARS (Surrender, Confession, Accountability, Responsibility, Sharing).  A chapter is devoted to each category, with explanations and testimonials from women at various stages of recovery included, which are detailed but never graphic.  Practical action steps/questions are included at the end of each chapter, as well as additional available resources, making it useful for independent use as well as group settings.

This book was very well written and is so inspirational.  It approaches porn addiction and its potentially associated behaviors (such as masturbation, sexting, sexual activity) as symptoms of a "core unhealed woundedness".  The bottom line is that God never wastes an experience, even (maybe especially) the painful ones.  Instead of hiding behind her shame and guilt, Renaud is using her experiences for God's glory and wants this book, as well as Dirty Girls Ministries, to be a tool of liberation from bondage. Her style is very conversational and user-friendly, making a taboo subject less threatening.

Dirty Girls Come Clean is a book of inspiration and hope.  While I think it is destined to become 'the' go-to resources for women dealing with porn addiction, I also believe it is a must have resource for anyone who works with girls/women in any capacity.  You just never know what that person is or will be going through, particularly in this sex saturated culture.  It is unapologetically Christ centered, but would also be a useful resource for anyone struggling with this issue, regardless of religious affiliation (or lack thereof).

I can't recommend this book enough.

You can order a copy of Dirty Girls Come Clean here. Go do it now, before you forget.

You can also download the first chapter of the book here.

Disclaimer:  I received an advance copy of this book for review purposes from Moody Publishing.  No other compensation was received.