Monday, August 31, 2009

Leisurely Woman's Daybook 8

Outside my window...I can see my breath...on August 31st! How crazy is THAT?! The moon is bright and the night sky clear enough to see dozens and dozens of stars. Love it.

From the kitchen...lightly pan-seared ahi and flash-fried spinach for dinner tonight.

Around the house...chores were greatly neglected this past week and it shows!! Lots of catching up to do!

A favorite thing...Sunday evening barbecues on the church parking lot.

I am thinking...that I should be asleep right now.

I am wearing...a sweatshirt and jeans, for the first time this season!

I am hearing...the clicking of my long fingernails on the keyboard.

I am reading...the New Explorer Rhyming Dictionary. Seriously.

I am creating...personalized, handmade wrapping paper for Christmas season. OK...not really. NOTHING....STILL!! Let it go, would you?

I am thankful for...a liturgy that incorporates a distinct, in-your-face, declaration of forgiveness and release week after week after week.

Plans for my week...I am committed to cleaning out my junk drawer and clearing my kitchen "desk" which are full of neglected papers, projects, phone calls, thank you notes, forms to be filled out, etc...all saved for later, which is NOW!

A photo/video I am sharing...nieces and nephews who are all grown up: the girls are both Mamas now. (L = Marcia & Ryan R = Jessica & Justin)

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Psalm 13
a Psalm of David

How long, Yhwh? Will you forget me?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and answer me, Yhwh, my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, "I have prevailed over him,"
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to Yhwh,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.

Meanwhile, where is God? This is one of the most disquieting symptoms [of grief]. When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing Him, so happy that you are tempted to feel His claims upon you as an interruption, if you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and praise, you will be - or so it feels - welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is in vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become. There are no lights in the windows. It might be an empty house. Was it ever inhabited? It seemed so once. And that seeming was as strong as this. What can this mean? Why is He so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of trouble?

Turned to God, my mind no longer meets that locked door. There was no sudden, striking and emotional transition. Like the warming of a room or the coming of daylight. When you first notice them, they have already been going on for some time. (CS Lewis, A Grief Observed)


Look, Yhwh, for I am in distress;
my stomach churns;
my heart is wrung within me,
because I have been very rebellious.
In the street the sword bereaves;
In the house it is like death.

He has made my teeth grind on gravel,
and made me cower in ashes;
my soul is bereft of peace;
I have forgotten what happiness is;
so I say, "My endurance has perished;
so has my hope from Yhwh."

My soul continually remembers it
and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of Yhwh never ceases.
His mercies never come to an end.
"Yhwh is my portion," says my soul,
"therefore I will hope in him."

The grief, mourning and lamentations of God's people always end in hope! Their cries of desperation and pleas for help are drawn out and lengthy...they are not immediately removed from their distress, but they nevertheless acknowledge that the Lord will bring restoration and renewal. And he does. Take heart and remember...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wordsmith Wednesdays

attack - to use force against in order to harm

assail - means to attack by repeated blows, thrusts, etc.

assault - implies a sudden, violent attack

beset - implies an attack or onset from all sides

storm - suggests a rushing, powerful attack that is stormlike in its action and effect

bombard - means to attack with persistent, repetitious action

Sentences, please.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Leisurely Woman's Daybook 7

Outside my window...the garden is spinning out of control! Any suggestions on how to use an abundance of sage? One can never have too much basil...but sage? I haven't a clue.

From the a person ever too old to legitimately enjoy a stalk of celery piled with Peter Pan peanut butter? If so, I hope not to live long enough to experience the loss of that little moment of joy.

Around the house...the Shaffer men finally purchased and installed their physical fitness equipment. We'll see how much stamina they have. May I say that I'm just a mite skeptical that this thing will be in use one year from now...OK...4 months from now.

A favorite book collection. Duh...

I am thinking...that nobody really cares what I'm thinking.

I am wearing...a pink braided ankle bracelet.

I am hearing...rap? hip hop? funk? I don't even know what this stuff is that my boys listen to while pumping iron...but hey, it sure does inject a little testosterone into the soul. Maybe I'll go work my quads too!

I am reading...yeah, you guessed it. The same old things. Here's a thought from Trinity & Reality: There should be no dichotomy between hierarchy and equality among men, because they are not in tension in the Triune God. It is because of sin that equality and hierarchy in human relationships come into conflict. Rule and authority among men as well as man's rule over the rest of creation were designed to be a form of service for the blessing of all.

I am creating...what? I'm sorry. I can't heeeaaaar you!!

I am thankful for...sweet sons who are willing to sacrifice an evening at home slaving over homework to eat dinner at the local pub while watching the Cardinals whoop up on the 'Stros. Life is good today.

Plans for my week...this is a husbandless week wherein I shall prepare curriculum for the start of a new Sunday school carpool...print SS Teacher Training carpool..."schnooker" someone else into doing the training in my carpool...

A photo/video I am beautiful niece, Jessica, married Orlando Rodriguez on July 15th. Congratulations and the Lord be with you both!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Julie & Julia

Mix Together:
1 quirky, charming chef
1 young wannabe writer
Stir in:
2 devoted husbands
A witty and inspiring story of 2 women, looking for purpose in their lives, who diligently and tirelessly pursue their passions with little hope of gaining recognition. Along the way, their husbands, who stand to benefit nothing personally or monetarily, recognize, encourage, and nurture the development of their wives' talents, even to the point of sacrifice.
Beautiful and profound. I count Julie & Julia a must see.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Synchretism or Plundering the Egyptians?

As Christians, we too often recoil in fear at the idea of celebrating in any way that might resemble the way "the world" celebrates...especially when it comes to our distinctly-Christian holidays.

For example, at Easter, many among us shy away from egg hunts, bunnies, chicks, pastel colors or new clothes. Afterall, pagans who don't lend any credence whatsoever to the resurrection have popularized and commercialized these symbols for their godless celebrations!

The use of the symbols apart from the substance is indeed an exercise in futility which brings only momentary pleasure, but let's face it! When coupled with the Truth of resurrected life, these symbols can deepen, enhance and rejuvenate our understanding of and appreciation for the truths we confess.

But doesn't that mean we're attempting to synchretize idolatrous practices with True Religion?! The Truth is, that God himself incorporated the reality of the resurrection into the rhythms of creation. Sometimes we Christians are so caught up with minute details of our precious doctrinal statements that we fail to recognize the symbols of Truth that are all around us! Spring, with its accompanying visions of life springing from death, it's abundant reproduction, new birth, mortality putting on immortality, etc., are lost on us! On the other hand, the unregenerate regularly take the time to notice these God-ordained cycles of creation in a way that we stubbornly refuse to see.

Can we actually benefit and learn from the pagan's approach? Well...yes! At times we can. False religions (such as the worship of Ishtar, from whence the name Easter is derived), contain and reflect undeniable nuggets of Truth! Even man in his natural state cannot help but recognize the spiritual weight of patterns in nature. He often sees the symbol, but apart from Christ, he either supresses or misinterprets the significance of it. But his misinterpretation doesn't negate the value of Truth and certainly should not result in our abandonment of the symbols themselves!

The cycles of creation, including seasons, are designed by God to teach us - they are instances of speculative revelation which are made sense of for us by God's special revelation. When we take the time to pair the observable, revealed truths of God with his special revelation in the written and Incarnate Word, we gain the greatest benefit!

We need not fear the worldly celebrations of new life but should instead use these to our advantage in pointing out, both to ourselves and to the faithless, the truth of God's activity and self-revelation in creation.

All of the traditional symbols of Easter belong to the Creator and therefore to us! Bunnies? Ours. Lillies? Ours. Baby chicks? Ours. Colors of Spring? Ours. Sorry, but it's all ours! Let the unbelieving use them as they will, but let us not hand the symbols over to them in resignation!

No! Let us live in confidence, not fear, taking every advantage of the Creator's design! Let us train our children to contemplate the divine complexities that are made known about the resurrection through meditating on God's good work in creation! Let us sanctify our eyes, our ears, our imaginations! Let us lighten up and, instead of mindlessly incorporating these practices into our celebrations, let's plunder the Egyptians by reclaiming the proper and fervent use of that which belongs to us already!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wordsmith Wednesdays


unus - Latin (adj) - one


unify (unification, reunification, unite, unity) - to make one

uniform (uniformitarianism) - having one form or appearance

unicorn - having one horn

unit - a single, distinct person, group, part or object

unison - one sound

universal (universality, universalism, universally) - being or regarded as one complete whole

unilateral - one-sided

unicycle - having one wheel

unique - one and only

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Surprised By Hope

Growing up in the church, I believed that the Gospel was all about dying and going to heaven. I no longer believe that. Wait! Wait! Before you gasp and declare me apostate, let me explain.

Throughout the past 10 years, the faithful and accurate preaching of God's Word has convinced me of the truths that N.T. Wright carefully lays out in his book, Surprised By Hope. These truths contradict much of what I was taught or what I perceived from my early years in the church, but , in my estimation, are consistent with Scripture.

Early American Revivalism and its host of zealous, but highly-unlearned, preachers led us into an era of shallow thought, erroneous interpretations of Scripture, and largely misguided teaching in America's protestant churches. In addition to a faulty emphasis on the individual (how very American!), large-scale evangelistic efforts with little or no discipleship to follow, and a ridiculous fascination with eschatology, we've inherited a non-Biblical view of man and of his "end"! Not exactly minor details, folks.

Wright's book addresses two basic questions: What is the Christian's final destination? And what does that have to do with the here and now?

The simple answer to the first question is: not heaven. Christianity is not about dying and going to heaven! It's true that at death, what we call the "soul" is ripped from the body, separating that which was meant to remain whole, and that the personhood of the believer is transported into the presence of Christ. And that is a good and blessed state - an estate of joy, an estate free from the effects of the curse - but it is most definitely not the final state or the end-goal of our salvation!

Mention salvation, and almost all Western Christians assume that you mean going to heaven when you die. Salvation means, of course, rescue. But what are we ultimately to be rescued from? The obvious answer is death. But if, when we die, all that happens is that our bodies decompose while our souls go on elsewhere, this doesn't mean we've been rescued from death. It simply means that we've died.

And if God's good creation...really is good and if God wants to reaffirm that goodness in a wonderful act of new creation at the last, then to see the death of the body and the escape of the soul as salvation is not simply slightly off course, in need of a few subtle alterations and modifications. It is totally and utterly wrong. It is colluding with death. It is conniving at death's destruction of God's good, image-bearing human creatures while consoling ourselves with the thought that the really important bit of ourselves is saved from this wicked, nasty body and this sad, dark world of space, time and matter! As we have seen, the whole of the Bible, from Genesis to Reveleation, speaks out against such nonsense. It is, however, what most Western Christians , including most Bible Christians of whatever sort, actually believe. This is a serious state of affairs, reinforced not only in popular teaching but also in liturgies, public prayers, hymns, and homilies of every kind.

All of the churches in which I was raised, acknowledged the reality of the resurrection - both Christ's and ours - and yet our bodily resurrection and life in the New Heavens and New Earth were completely neglected. We even memorized I Corinthians 15, but the emphasis was invariably on the fact that Christ came back to LIFE...with very little, if anything, about the resurrection of Christ's or our own bodies! I even remember having specific visions of heaven placed before was always "up there," wherever "there" is...and involved some sort of disembodied or "ghostly-body" existence. The final state of man was in a world with no resemblance whatsoever to the current world. It was implied that there would be no work, no creativity, no would immediately arrive in a state of perfection (not just "without sin" but a state of completion in which we would suddenly attain absolute understanding of God, the former world, His purposes, etc.).

My more recent understanding leads me to believe that the Bible presents a different picture than that. We have reason to believe that the New Heavens and New Earth will be very much like the present world...only absent of sin and the curse! Of course, we can only imagine the way that might look! But the fact is, we will not arrive onto that scene as perfected individuals. We will still be creatures made in the image of God...we will still work...we will still create...we will still grow in knowledge, understanding and wisdom over time! We will, as Adam should have the first time around, take dominion over the creation by working, beautifying and glorifying, but we will now do it in an atmosphere where the ground is not working against, but with our efforts. The animals will not be at enmity with us, but will submit to man and cooperate with his work! THIS is the end goal of Christian humanity...not an ethereal existence in "heaven." The question of what happens to me after death is not the major, central, framing question that centuries of theological tradition have supposed. The New Testament, true to its Old Testament roots, regularly insists that the major, central, framing question is that of God's purpose of rescue and re-creation for the whole world.

The second question Wright addresses is: what does an emphasis on the bodily resurrection and life in the New Heavens and New Earth mean for the here and now? Well, first of all, we must view life on this earth as significant, because there will be some transference of man's knowledge, work, etc. The wood, hay and stubble will burn, but the gold, silver and precious stones will be refined and inherited for our use in our continued growth and dominion. So what we do here matters. The present bodily life is not valueless just because it will die. God will raise it to new life! Maybe [we need] to focus not on the question of which human beings God will take to heaven...but how God is going to redeem and renew his creation through human beings and how he is going to rescue those humans themselves as part of the process...

Additionally, the Gospel was never intended to only project us into that "other" future. The good news of Christ is to transform us now. The effects of that transformation ought to be that we, in turn, transform the world around us. He did not want to rescue humans from creation any more than he wanted to rescue Israel from the Gentiles. He wanted to rescue Israel in order that Israel might be a light to the Gentiles, and he wanted thereby to rescue humans in order that humans might be his rescuing stewards over creation. So, the Gospel matters NOW! We believers in the Gospel should be propelled by its truth, grace and beauty to apply its transformative power to everything around us - architecture, horticulture, community living, deeds of justice, deeds of mercy, parenting, education, fashion, music, literature, etc., etc.! We are not to sit idly by waiting for it all to disintegrate and be destroyed at the last day! Our duty is to build for His kingdom, all the while believing that our work is not in vain and that Christ is more than able to transform the world even here and now in ways that will matter in the New Heavens and the New Earth.

Wright's book offers a very thorough defense of Christ's resurrection and then presents a Biblically-based eschatology that springs from that solid belief in and understanding of the resurrection. Though I take issue with him on some points, I highly recommend the book and think you too will find his primary views Biblically-sound and encouraging too! No "to hell in a handbasket" attitude here! Prepare to be surprised by hope.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Leisurely Woman's Daybook 6

Outside my window...we are enjoying what must be one of the most temperate summers in St. Louis history! With very few exceptions, the mornings and evenings have been cool, breezes have been steady, while both the temperatures and humidity have been remarkably low! I could get used to this kind of summer for sure! It's not exactly San Diego, but it's close enough! Plus, here in STL, we have a real baseball team!

From the kitchen...After about a 5-year reprieve, I dug out the waffle iron and made waffles for Eric. He was a happy boy!

Around the house...I need to defrost the deep freezer, which is coated with about 4" of ice. How does that happen? Ugh.

A favorite thing...My Timechart History of the World - a multicolored, well-organized, thorough, visually stunning timeline of world history. I love the way it's put together (it makes sense to me!) and I reference it frequently.

I am thinking...that loss, grief, guilt, sorrow and loneliness are cruel taskmasters. (your uplifting thought for the day, folks!)

I am wearing...make-up, which is out of the ordinary for me in the summer. Just a little mascara and some "lip-stick-em" Aunt Riesa calls it! :-) Makes me laugh every time...

I am hearing...Jason Mraz "Sleeping to Dream."

I am reading...Psalm 25: My eyes are ever toward Yahweh; for he will pluck my feet out of the net. Consider my enemies how many they are; for they bear a tyrranous hate against me. Keep my soul and deliver me, for I put my trust in You.

I am creating...blah, blah, blah.

I am thankful grand-nephew, Julian. He brings a joy and light into our household on the weekends he's here!

Plans for my week...Finish the 2 books I've been meandering through for the past 8-10 weeks: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Trinity & Reality; complete at least 3 unfinished blog posts that I've started within the past 12 months (there are only 49 of them!)

A photo/video I am sharing...My boys: Christmas 2004

Saturday, August 15, 2009

One Year Ago

Last August, as I lay sunning myself on the beach in San Diego, I received a call from my mother, who has never made it a habit to call my husband's cell phone...especially when we're on vacation. I instantly heard the distress in her voice. She had just learned that her 36-year-old "baby boy" had cancer. The sense of dread was real.

The next couple of weeks are a blur in my mind - countless phone calls, new information, speculation about the future.

However, one year ago today, August 15th, is a clear marker on this journey. That was the day when all testing had been completed and Jeffrey was to receive a comprehensive report about the nature and extent of his cancer. Our whole family planned to have dinner together at Mother and Daddy's to hear what was going on. In the wee hours of the morning, his wife, Dawnn, had to rush him to the hospital because he was in severe pain and his breathing was labored.

Later that evening, as each family arrived at my parents' home, Daddy (who had been at the hospital for the better part of the day, and was with Jeffrey as he received the "news"), told us, one by one, that the cancer was already distributed throughout Jeff's entire body...liver, kidney, lungs, breast, back, skeleton, etc. Though the doctors had not yet given an official prognosis, we all knew what it least ultimately.

Jeffrey has been gone from us for 2 1/2 months now. The nine months between his diagnosis and his death were excruciatingly painful...both for him and for those of us watching him waste away. Jeffrey submitted graciously to his suffering. He didn't complain, he didn't wallow in self-pity, he didn't isolate himself in depression, he didn't become bitter and angry. No. He "cowboy'd up," so to speak, and "took it like a man." He fought hard; he never gave up; he endured every treatment, every side-effect, every pain, and every weakness, with a quiet courage.

His primary concerns were not for himself, but for his wife and his children. He wanted them to be taken care of financially. He wanted his daughter to know her Daddy had loved her. He wanted his boys to become manly men of integrity and grit. And he took the time to make his wishes known.

This is a "new" experience for our family and we find ourselves quietly avoiding that first get-together. Though no one really speaks of it, we all know we dread the reality and finality of his absence, and that being together will bring it front and center again. But it has to be done. Right? Right. It's been talked about, but no one has been brave enough to make it happen yet. It won't be long. We might as well not wait until a major holiday...from what I understand, each one is heavy with the realization that "this is the first _____________(pick your event) without Jeffrey." I suspect that the presence of his children will lighten the atmosphere and keep us from becoming too gloomy. At least I hope so.

This wasn't exactly an uplifting post, was it? But it reflects the place that my heart and emotions are on this day. Thanks for listening.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

But Does it DO Anything??

I entered the Presbyterian church nearly 2 decades ago, and it has taken nearly all of that time for me to begin to grasp a Biblical theology of baptism.

Having been trained in the "proof-text" mentality, I long believed that major doctrines could be both established and proven by a couple of verses here and there. Throughout the years, I have become convinced that this mentality has led to grave theological distortions, errors and heresies within The Church, many of which have resulted in dire consequences for the people of God.

This proof-text approach resulted in more than a little frustration when I first encountered differing views on baptism because it defies that sort of explanation. A decade of whole-Bible instruction, including countless sermons which never even mentioned the word "baptism" (but had everything to do with it!), has shaped my thinking on the issue.

Baptismal controversies abound in Christendom. Answers to even the most basic "historical questions" (who? what? when? where? how? why?) are not agreed upon by Christians who otherwise find a great deal of common ground on foundational doctrines. Even, or should I say especially, this is true within the narrow sect known as "Reformed Presbyterians," who engage in extended, heated and - dare we admit it! - even ungracious debates over baptism.

Peter Leithart, a pastor in the PCA, is one voice attempting to bring truth to the forefront on this issue. I recently read his The Baptized Body in which he answers one seemingly simple, yet highly-charged, question: What does baptism DO to the baptized?

He only briefly, though skillfully, addresses the issue of adult "believers" baptism as a self-initiated act of obedience, vs. infant baptism as a God-initiated act of grace. He focuses instead on defining terms such as "sign" "symbol" "efficacy" "means of grace" "Body of Christ," and the ways in which this terminology helps or hinders our understanding (i.e. whether or not it conforms to Biblical teaching).

I am incapable of concisely summarizing all Leithart's helpful exposition in this book, so I will limit my comments to one argument which I found particularly insightful. And this is it:

Baptism is not merely a sign, a symbol, or a means of grace, but is also a ritual.

Do you find yourself saying, "So what?" I'll try to explain.

SIGN: For many, signs function...mainly to teach us something...or as a memorial to call things to mind. On these assumptions, [baptism] does nothing but provoke pious thoughts. Leithart demonstrates that, throughout Scripture, signs do teach and bring to remembrance, but are also actions performed at God's command by the church and mighty acts of God for the redemption of His people and the world. So baptism is a redemptive act of God. It does something!

SYMBOL: Here he illustrates that the common practices of verbal greetings, handshakes, hugs, and kisses - while symbolic - actually establish and maintain personal relationships. They aren't simply visible manifestations of some invisible reality, but the symbolic acts themselves create the reality. In the same way, the symbolic act of baptism establishes a personal relationship. It does something!

MEANS OF GRACE: Leithart suggests that to speak of baptism as a "means" implies that it is simply a delivery mechanism, rather than the source, thus severing any meaningful connection between the sign and the thing signified. Think of it this way: What is the difference between the statement "Food is a means of nourishment" and "Food nourishes"? Nothing...really...except the first implies that the result (nourishment) exists apart from the means (food) and so obscures the inescapable connection between the two. So instead of "Baptism is a means of grace" we should think, "Baptism graces." And remember, grace is not some force or energy that is intangibly transmitted to us, but it is an ACT (favors, benefits, gifts, etc.) bestowed on us by God. So, baptism bestows the benefits of Christ upon us. It does something!

After correcting and sharpening our understanding of baptism as sign, symbol, and means - Leithart emphasizes the importance of baptism as ritual. Ritual necessarily implies action. Rites are not mere window dressings...but accomplish what they signify. What?! Then to say that baptism is a ritual is to say that it DOES something!!? Yep.

Think about it this way. We have no difficulty thinking this way in other realms of life, do we? When a man and a woman exchange wedding vows, we acknowledge that, at the beginning of the ritual, they are not husband and wife, but by the end of it, a new reality has been created. Right?

Before Mr. Obama's inauguration, he was not the President, but after the initiating rite, he was!

Ordination turns the candidate into a minister.

Each of these new realities was not created because of some internal, invisible transformation, but by means of a ritual! Rites do not recognize a status that already exists; they place a person in a new status. To call [baptism] a "rite," therefore, is to emphasize that it actually accomplishes and does things, changing status, altering personal identity, and expressing God's favor.

This line of reasoning is only one among many that Mr. Leithart uses to persuade us that baptism does indeed DO something to the baptized!! Of course, once you buy into that premise, you enter the larger debate on what that "something" actually is! For his view on that, which I happen to believe is in accordance with Scripture, you'll have to read the book for yourself!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wordsmith Wednesdays

Confirm - to establish as true

substantiate - to establish as true, usually by the production of evidence

corroborate - to establish as true by the testimony of witnesses

verify - to establish as true by investigation or ascertainable facts

authenticate - to establish as true or genuine by means of authority or expertise

validate - to establish as true by official confirmation

Monday, August 10, 2009

Leisurely Woman's Daybook 5

Outside my window...raindrops keep falling on my head. Though it's inconvenient, we've had precious little rain and we need it!

From the kitchen...I unintentionally discovered this week, that my husband and boys prefer their broccoli overcooked - even more-than-slightly charred - in bacon grease. OK...did I just really gross you out? It actually wasn't bad! Really!

Around the house...I finally caught up on the ironing. I stood in the hot sun for about 5-6 hours on Saturday, knocking that pile down to a manageable size.

A favorite Roget's SUPER Thesaurus. It is one of 5 constant desk companions.

I am thinking...that, for some odd reason, I really like to listen to the old-time crooners (Rosemary Clooney, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, etc.), and the old-time pop/jazz standards (even by contemporary artists). Does that make me officially old?

I am "sleeping apparel" shall we call it?

I am hearing...the whirr of the computer's hard drive. Otherwise, a blanket of silence covers this household.

I am family's experience and gained wisdom about raising special needs children in the home.

I am creating...well...nothing. BUT...I spent some time in my sewing room this week, going through my stuff and formulating some plans to BEGIN creating something! It's a start, right? Right.

I am thankful...that I have reconnected with a dear old friend.

Plans for my week...take the youngest shopping for school clothes...get school supplies...visit with my mother...reacclimate to the school year schedule!

A photo/video I am sharing...this photo has been in my archive for a while now, courtesy of one of my politically fanatic friends. Surely it's photo-shopped, right? I mean...he can't really be THAT...ignorant! Even though I think it's fake, it still makes me chuckle. :-)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Wordsmith Wednesdays


specto - (Latin) verb - I look at, behold, view, gaze or contemplate


spectator - one who watches without taking an active part

spectacle - something to look at, especially of an unusual or flashy nature

inspect - to look at or examine critically

specimen - a part that is collected and looked at in order to evaluate the whole

perspicuous - to see through; a clear statement or expression

There are literally DOZENS of derivatives for this one, people. Instead of sentences, see how many you can come up with! See if you can generate more than I can...I dare you! (It's a friendly challenge...really.)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Coffee, Ketchup & The Wealth of the Wicked

Have you ever been compelled, either through a public appeal, or by your own conscience, to boycott a particular company or product because of the owner's political persuasion or theological beliefs? Throughout the years, I've been called upon:

1 - to abandon Disney movies (fine...I never really liked that rebellious little mermaid anyway!)

2 - to reject any product made by Johnson & Johnson (hey...who needs baby lotion, Tylenol or Band-Aids??)

3 - to avoid, at all costs, purchasing Heinz ketchup (no great loss...afterall, I prefer the tanginess of Brooks!) and...

4 - to refrain from drinking Starbuck's coffee. NOW WAIT JUST A MINUTE! This is getting to be a little ridiculous, don't you think? Before you know it, we'll be confined to consuming that which our own gardens produce and all manner of feasting, fun and frivolity will be strictly forbidden! Surely this calls for deep theological reflection and analysis. But for that, you'll have to go elsewhere. Stay here and you will simply be subject to my paltry defense against this sort of reactionary living!

At first glance, the idea of withholding monetary support of products which bring profit to the ungodly, sounds noble and makes us feel as though we're "doing something." But I'm not sure this practice can be defended practically or Biblically.

First of all, the motivation behind these reactions can usually be traced to arrogance, bitterness or fear. There is a measure of self-righteous retribution in our "We'll show them!" attitude. Problem is...we rarely show them anything! Profit margins remain largely unaffected while our only success is demonstrating that Christians are petty, foolish and vengeful...not exactly a faithful representation of the One we follow, is it?

In the meantime, we deprive ourselves of the legitimate enjoyment of goods and services which are for us! Think of it this way: those coffee bean harvesters in the fields of Sumatra are servants in the hands of God, working in the image of God, to create a product about which we can heartily declare, "It is good!" Their work brings joy, blessing and benefit to many, including many of Christ's own! They are functioning as servants of His servants whether or not they realize it!

But, you might argue, what about those evil, greedy corporate owners? They're usually the ones against whom our punitive measures are aimed in the first place. Let's face the facts. Someone has to assume the financial risk for business ventures and quite often, those who have the means to do so are among the "wicked" (God-haters). Why is that? Why do the wicked prosper? Why do many of the best ideas originate with them? Why is their way easy? Psalm 73 confirms that these things are true concerning the wicked, and the reason is NOT because not enough Christians will effectively unite against their endeavors! These realities puzzle us...until we enter the sanctuary of God and remember their end. One day, all will be set right! Remember! The wealth of the wicked is being stored up for the righteous (Proverbs 13:22).

Everything that they are accumulating- not just money, but ideas, technologies, methods, inventions, culture, etc. - is being saved up for us! How so? Remember these things: The earth is the Lord's and everything and everyone in it. All tribute will be brought to Christ in the final day. We, in turn, will inherit it all by virtue of our brotherhood, our sonship and our standing "IN Christ." When we truly believe this, we cease to live in fear and we can genuinely enjoy the fruit of other men's hands, knowing that they labor on our behalf with resources that already belong to us. We receive these products and services in faith, with thanksgiving and prayer.

Keep in mind that, at this point, I am only referring to things which are "amoral" in themselves. In other words, while we may not all agree on which coffee or ketchup tastes the best, we can all agree that there is no inherent evil in either product. These are the good creations of man whose work inescapably reflects the Image in which he was created! Those goods and services, which in their very nature oppose the Triune God, require a different perspective which I intend to address later (heard that before, haven't you? Note carefully the employment of very non-commital language!).

So hey! Lighten up, folks! Enjoy God's good gifts! And stop being afraid of coffee, ketchup and the wealth of the wicked. It's all FOR YOU!!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Leisurely Woman's Daybook 4

Outside my window...the moon is full and the dark clouds are rolling in. Predictions for several days of thunderstorms could signal our last evening on the patio for a while...that is, if "they" are actually right this time. But really...what are the chances of THAT?!

From the kitchen...tonight's simple supper consisted of grilled burgers and a fabulous cantaloupe, which has been sitting half-eaten in the fridge for at least 2 weeks. It was perfectly sweet and still crisp too!

Around the house...the boys just finished using up a free month of Xbox Live. Did I really say last week that I was thankful for technology? I should have excluded gaming systems from that all-encompassing statement!

A favorite Cuisinart 14-cup food processor. Easy to set up and clean and works efficiently for dozens of jobs.

I am thinking...that my blogging skills are diminshing because I don't practice nearly enough!!

I am wearing...a watch. I have forgotten to wear it for about 3 weeks now. For a person who lives and dies by the clock, that is unthinkable!

I am hearing...the agitating motion of the washing machine. I love that sound. It is the sound of duty in action...the sound of accomplishment...the sound of cleanliness. And besides that, it eliminates the sound of my boys exclaiming again tomorrow that all 37 pairs of their boxers are in the dirty laundry. :-)

I am reading...the same bloody books I've been reading for weeks now!! I am not finding much time for casual reading these past 3 weeks. However, to keep from being entirely redundant, I will quote a comical passage from Huck Finn:

Then Miss Watson she took me in the closet and prayed, but nothing come of it. She told me to pray every day, and whatsoever I asked for I would get it. But it warn't so. I tried it. Once I got a fish-line, but no hooks. It warn't any good to me without hooks. I tried for the hooks three or four times, but somehow I couldn't make it work. By and by, one day I asked Miss Watson to try for me, but she said I was a fool. She never told me why, and I couldn't make it out no way.

I set down one time back in the woods and had a long think about it. I says to myself, if a body can get anything they pray for, why don't Deacon Winn get back the money he lost on the pork? Why can't the widow get back her silver snuff-box that was stole? Why can't Miss Watson fat up? No, says I to myself, there ain't nothing in it. I went and told the widow about it, and she said the thing a body could get by praying for it was "spiritual gifts." This was too many for me, but she told me what she meant - I must help other people, and do everything I could for other people, and look out for them all the time, and never think about myself. This was including Miss Watson as I took it. I went out in the woods and turned it over in my mind a long time, but I couldn't see no advantage about it - except for the other people; so at last I reckoned I wouldn't worry about it any more, but just let it go.

I am creating...absolutely nothing. Maybe I should remove this item from the list! I don't do a great deal of creating anymore. Hmm. I'll give it a few more weeks. Maybe knowing that I have to report to you all will motivate me. Maybe.

I am thankful for...a godly mother who gives wise counsel, even in the most difficult of circumstances.

Plans for my week...lunch with 2 girlfriends on with an admissions counselor at a local university on Wednesday...enjoy my last full week with my boys before school begins! Ugh.

A photo/video I'm sharing...from a collection of photos called "Fashions I Love" which I've been gathering for years from magazines and other sources. I believe this one comes from a "Victoria" magazine from the late 80's or early 90's!