31 July 2007

My Reality Check Bounced

I have been lagging behind in my blogging duties. Much of what I think to blog about seems as if it can be developed into something more....and so I jot it in my handy-dandy notebook, that I read later and have no idea what I was thinking.
Anyway, this seems it has no real possibilities of going anywhere, and also segued in such a lovely manner with this TMI post on Coffee Mom's blog, that I couldn't resist.
I was watching a Gilmore Girls episode where one of the main characters moved into her first apartment. She was shocked that there were no curtains on the windows, no towels, no refrigerator. What do you remember being the biggest reality check when you first moved out on your own? For me it was toilet paper. It seemed that no matter how many times I bought it, I just had to keep buying it again, and again, and again.
I have two teenage daughters that I am trying to prepare psychologically for the real world, and no matter what I tell them, I know that they too will have to have a reality check!

30 July 2007

Scrap Happy: Week 14

I made this page from a picture I took of my son last week. I used some drop shadow effects and also blurred the image around the focal point - which was the boy on the scooter. I like it fairly well - but maybe other scrapbookers understand this feeling - I am not quite satisfied. However, the more I tweak it, the less I like it - so I've decided to leave it alone.
I also used too many fonts - but nothing quite gave it the look I wanted. I didn't have my own computer with all of my own favorite fonts on it - so that was part of the problem. And in case you didn't know - if you want to view someone's picture or scrapbook pages, you can click on the image to enlarge it! Makes reading the small journaling much easier.
I can't wait to see the pages you're making! Happy Scrappin'!

29 July 2007

A Book Review Not to Miss: The Shack

Well, I have never done this before but I devoured a book in one weekend – The Shack by William P. Young. I had a few rough spots on Friday when I had to ask those who recommended the book in the first place to help me know that it gets better - not the writing, just the painful story. I knew that the theme was the loss of a child, but I didn't know that I would feel that loss as my own, enough to provoke nightmares. It was a tangible pain not often encountered through literature. But it did get better, much better.

If you read my blog with semi-regularity, you likely know that I have been on a journey, orchestrated by God, away from all that is seemingly spiritual and familiar – routines, rituals, programs and institutions, and all that that implies. This book spoke directly to some of my biggest questions, addressed some of my biggest fears, and prepared me to live in relationship with Papa (God). The story follows Mackenzie Phillips, the main character through some of the darkest hours of his life and into an encounter with God that changes how he thinks about everything.

I tried describing the basis of this story to my husband without holding back for fear of spoiling the story because he doesn’t read (not can’t read – doesn’t) and I found that even without “watching my words” so to speak, you can’t adequately describe the experience of reading The Shack. It was profound, and gave me language for things that have as of yet gone unexpressed. In spite of this newly acquired language, there is so much to say that it is overwhelming. I am sure that reading this book has provoked many a post soon to come on this blog.

The Shack challenged so many of my ideas about Papa – it has shaken my world. It was as if Mr. Young climbed right inside my head and heard the very things I have been wrestling with. This was not a churchy book, quoting chapter and verse, and yet never veers from being explicitly accurate as to the character of a loving heavenly Father, a Papa, who IS love.

I seldom read a book that makes me cry through its pages. I typically don’t like works of fiction, preferring real stories, or books that are more conversational. This story drew me in and held me. I am also discouraged when I hear raving reviews, which is all that I have heard about this book, finding that the threshold of expectancy is so high, the book usually disappoints. I found The Shack lived up to every review, and then some. This is a book that I will re-read numerous times, allowing it to speak fresh to each season or situation in my life, as it will to each individual that dares to peruse its pages.

This book is brand new, and just started shipping. It is so new in fact that you cannot find it in bookstores or on Amazon. It must be ordered directly from the website. You can also read the Foreward and the first chapter, A Confluence of Paths there if you are a skeptic like me!

Be sure to let me know if you read it and post a link to any reviews you have written about it on your own blog, so we can share the journey!

28 July 2007

Sad Anniversary

One year ago today my father-in-law passed away. I was wondering about that this morning - if these year markers in heaven are like a birthday. It has been a difficult year for my mother-in-law. She told me yesterday that she was thinking that for a whole year she hadn't been able to talk to him. I feel sad for her. We are headed to meet up with her and my sister-in-law and to put flowers on his grave. In heaven I wonder if he cares about such things as flowers, or if he truly understands the temporary state of all that this earth has to offer. We will do it anyway to honor his memory and to stand beside my mother-in-law, because of love.

27 July 2007

My European City

I found this on my friend Kathleen's blog - I thought it was awesome fun!
You Belong in Dublin

Friendly and down to earth, you want to enjoy Europe without snobbery or pretensions.
You're the perfect person to go wild on a pub crawl... or enjoy a quiet bike ride through the old part of town.

Two Different Things

I took the kids to see Hairspray this afternoon at the cheap theater. My girls totally loved it, and I liked it quite a bit too! John Travolta was absolutely hysterical as the momma!

This is totally unrelated, but I just have to tell you about my tenderhearted boy. He will be ten years old in September. We were watching a show tonight where a young man with Down's Syndrome was being picked on, actually brutalized. Kullen started to cry, and it was hard to settle him down. I know he is tough on the outside, but he has such a loving heart.

26 July 2007

Happy Birthday Old Fart!

Today is my dad's 61st birthday!
Happy Birthday you crusty old thing!
I hope you know how much I love you.....and always will
Even though you're old and decrepit, you'll still be the most popular guy at dinner tonight!
Wish I could be there........isn't that always the way with us!

Electricity - EEEE lec-tricity

There is a lot of hoopla here in Texas about de-regulating energy bills, and what I understand that to mean is basically giving consumers a choice, although I found out they do not do that in the area I live yet. The "light bills" (as they call them around here) are ridiculous. We are paying almost $300 a month for our electric bill on a budget plan. My mother in law who lives alone and runs her AC only modestly - and other than her television, computer and a few lamps - runs hardly anything at all and pays almost as much as we do - more sometimes. Our house is quite a bit bigger than our house in WV was - but this doesn't account for an almost double electric bill. Fortunately we're in the shade in the summer - mostly surrounded by big beautiful trees that create a canopy over our house - and in the winter we have a fireplace to help with heating costs, but I have heard more than once others say their bills run as much as $600!!!! Where I come from that is a house payment (or used to be when we bought our house in '98) but not an electric bill. How do people afford this??
So I am curious - where do you live and how much is your electric bill? Please don't give me your address, just a general location. I am doing research! Lurkers come out - I need to hear from you!

25 July 2007

The Computer Saga Continues

I am feeling quite badly today. I know that for one thing I am tired, because HELLO - I got up at a normal hour today after going to bed at an abnormal hour. But Auntie Flo is visiting and she has been an unkindly house guest the last couple of days kicking up all kinds of a fuss! She never tells me when she's coming or how long she's going to stay! How rude! Earlier today I had on a sweatshirt and socks - chilled, but my face was hot and my eyes were burning so hot that I had to take my contacts out.
But the day also started out with a bang when the FedEx lady brought my computer back! I was so excited - so happy to have my own laptop back until..... I.opened.the.box! They did not send my power cord back with the computer! Of course three phone calls of at least 20+ minutes each finally put me in touch with my personal case manager - who is sending me a brand new cord which should be here in a week! I know they have pretty good turn around - but the disappointment is terrible. I do have to say that through it all the HP customer service people have been very helpful. MUCH MUCH better than the customer service I got from GE about my fridge. That still isn't resolved!

Home Alone

Kullen did not want to go with me when I took the girls to audition for Cheaper by the Dozen last night, however, there was going to be a 10 minute gap between the time I had to leave and the time his dad would be home from work. I called Travis right before I left and he was only about 11 miles away, so I told the boy to take Jett (our black lab) inside with him, and lock the doors, assuring him his dad would be right home. I had to go to the gas station that is less than a mile away and tank up before heading off, and when I finally headed down the road, I passed his dad. I called to check on him, and while it had only been 5 minutes, please remember he is only 9 (soon to be 10 he would want me to remind you) years old. I was mostly worried that he would be scared. He answered the phone out of breath.
I said, "Hey, I just passed daddy. He should be there any second!"
He says, "MOM, guess what?"
I said, "What?"
He said, "I turned the stereo all the way up!"
I had visions of Tom Cruise - an 80s flashback from Risky Business dancing around the living room floor in his underwear, socks and a collared shirt! Yep, we're totally not ready to be home alone yet!

Good Morning

I can say "good morning" because this is the first time in a couple of weeks that I have been up before 9:30! It helps that I finally realized the night before last that my alarm was set for 9:30 - but a couple of days I have slept until 10 or 10:30. This is so unlike me. I'm the kind that likes to be up bright and early and have hours of quiet to do things before the chaos of the day takes me away. The coffee is brewing right now and life is good!
I am also pretty happy for my husband. I just talked to him at work, and he is working inside in very cold air conditioning! This is a switch as he just finished a job on a roadside rest stop, wiring the place, setting light poles, etc. It has been HOT, and when I say hot, I mean the man has come home after riding for 45 minutes in the AC of his truck with his shirt still soaked, and sweat soaked all the way down to his pants legs HOT. The news that he was working inside was happy news indeed.
And speaking of AC - what do you keep yours set on? Leave me a comment here - I have been wondering that - as we are tweaking ours to get the most efficiency, coolest temperature, and lowest electric bill!
I hope you're having a good day wherever you are!

24 July 2007

A Beautiful Bit of Reality

This evening the girls went to audition for Cheaper by the Dozen at a theater about an hour away. It was good. I have missed being around theater kids - they are so quirky, and sometimes sullen, and creative, and witty, and sharp. Whether they get parts or not - it was good to get in the groove again.

Unschooling in the Shower

Last night Kullen decided at midnight that he needed to take a shower. When a nine year old boy notices his need for a shower, believe me you don't argue. Actually, he likes taking showers, but just needs reminding sometimes. I usually don't notice until I go to hold his hand and wonder if we'll ever be able to let go for the stickiness. I usually just end up hoping that it works like those medicinal patches - and that whatever bacteria/ germ/ toxin he has on his hand is making its way through my skin, inoculating me against many harmful diseases and parasites. Affection and antibodies!
When he got out of the shower last night, he said "hey mom, I put all the shampoos in alphabetical order". I laughed and didn't think any more about it until I took my shower this morning. He did! We have six shelves not including the top of the tub that with two teenage girls are loaded down with any number of bottles of foamy, scent inducing, shaving, shampooing, conditioning stuff - and every one of them were ordered by alphabet. It cracked me up.
I remember being in fourth grade sitting for hours with dreaded alphabetizing worksheets - not because they were difficult - but because I understood the concept after the first one but had to do them for weeks on end so that the whole class had mastered the skill. My kid figures this out in the shower, naked no less. Hysterical!

23 July 2007

Scrap Happy - Week 13

Well, I have been scrappin' right along. Sometimes it seems I get a burst of enthusiasm for this creative outlet - and there is no stopping me. I never scrapbook with the intensity that some do - but when something really cool, like a picture or scenery or beautiful graphics come up, they make me want to use them in a page. That is the story behind this week's page. My son saw that his sister had fallen asleep on top of her bed last night and came to get me so I could "take a picture". (it really is a family sport - scrapbooking - isn't it?) I made this page with one of the four pictures I took that she approved: (although she tried to revoke it because she thinks her picture is distorted!)Of course with the vivid colors of her bedding and bedroom, I did not have any scrap-stuff that matched - so I improvised - I made the background paper. It was pretty fun to do - since she was dreaming - I listed things that she might be dreaming about, and then I softened them so that other things would show up. I also learned this week how to type text in a circle, so I thought I'd show off that new skill. I also cut out the letters for the word "dreams" and then sanded them a bit to soften. Fun!
DIGI-SCRAPPER TOOL ALERT: I got this incredibly awesome magazine - Better Homes & Gardens has a tutorial magazine out called The Ultimate Guide to Digital Scrapbooking for Adobe Photoshop users. It has some awesome tutorials. I have been learning more and more and more.
Here is another page that I made this week that I am rather pleased with:
These are some special kids I know that have taken a liking to each other. I made it as a sort of belated-birthday gift. I used a paper that I already had - but I put the words to their favorite song in the background. That was pretty neat. I love the way Adobe allows me to match colors. That is very important. This photo had some reds that worried me when I first started making the page - but that eyedropper tool was super to help me match it all up!
I am looking forward to seeing what you've been up to this week! Happy Scrappin'!


In a couple of hours my husband will be getting up for work - but I can't even go to sleep. I am not sure what exactly has me so restless, but I had to get out of bed and do something else for a while. I am on a way late sleeping cycle as it is, and the more I lay in bed thinking, "I have GOT to fall asleep" the further it eludes me.
I used to transcribe counseling sessions for a friend at church that was a psychologist - which I found to be very interesting work - unless of course you were transcribing a session with a low-talker, an emotionally distraught person, someone with an accent, or the batteries happened to be low on the recorder. Several of her patients had sleep disorders which seems to accompany many forms of mental illness (hmm.....). Anyway - one thing she says and it is advice that has held true - is the longer you lay in bed unable to sleep, the more you will train your body for insomnia. If you tend to get in bed and fall asleep, this will be the pattern, but if you get in bed and lay there tossing and turning for two hours, you could set yourself up to require this "settling" period more and more. So she suggested to patients that if you don't fall asleep within 15 minutes, to get up and read or do something else for 30 minutes to an hour.
Aren't you lucky? I decided to get up and blog! Rats! This only killed 10 minutes - I'm going to read now!

21 July 2007

A Better Day

There was a line in a Point of Grace song a few years back that said, "but the world keeps turning, bringing us better days" and today was a better day. I am thankful that the waves of homesickness and grief seem to be smaller and short-lived. It is just a part of the territory.
Today we went to see the High School Musical performed by the KIDmunity of Beaumont Community Players. It was better by far to see this live than in the movies. It was such catchy, upbeat music. Afterwards we went to this awesome Mexican restaurant called Rio Rita's and the whole cast came in behind us for dinner. Kullen got one autograph, but the girls were too chicken!
I think today gave us hope that we can make a life here. Theater was a very special and important part of our lives in West Virginia. I just haven't made the effort to get them involved because it is a 40 minute drive. But at least it is straight, flat road that I will traverse to take my little thespians to the theater!

How Blue

Today was a day when I was really struggling with homesickness. It isn't anything I can explain, but I imagine it must be a lot like grief in that it is triggered by something usually unexplainable, and comes in waves, the ferocity of which you can't anticipate. I have been here for over a year now, and still feel that I do not have one really connected friendship. I am the kind of person who would die if banished to a deserted island. Remember John on the island of Patmos - my visions would have been even freakier!
This evening we were listening to the local Christian radio station and the DJ read these verses out of Matthew from the Message translation:
You are blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and His rule. You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
You're blessed when you're content with just who you are - no more, no less. That's the moment when you find yourselves the proud owner of everything that can't be bought.

These words were so healing - because for a short while today - I was at the end of my rope. These precious words helped me to focus on my Father. Losing the community of friends in WV was a traumatic loss. Some days I manage with the grief, the feeling of space that is always with me. Other days like today - you hear there is a Teddy Bear birthday party that you are missing - and you know the friend that is having it didn't tell you because they didn't want you to hurt, and yet you hurt anyway because there is no win in this situation - you know you are watching their lives from a distance now. When they call or email or send you a letter that says they miss you, you know that something in their day made you cross their mind - but what they don't understand is the hole, their absence in your life is palpable in almost every moment of every day.
We ate dinner out tonight at CiCi's Pizza and I was snippy with Travis through the whole thing and when we were leaving I started to cry. He was pretty patient with me. It was later that I heard those words from Matthew - and it was like a hand reaching down to lift me out of a hole. I am so thankful to have such a loving and compassionate Father that He would cause them to read just the words I needed to hear - I am blessed, even in grief I am blessed.

20 July 2007

TX Man Battling Flesh Eating Bacteria

My mother-in-law told me about this story earlier today. A SE Texas man from a neighboring town is fighting for his life after going in the ocean in Galveston just about a week and a half ago. It is crazy. Evidently there is a certain type of bacteria that thrives in warm salt-water. Poor guy. All the articles that I've read say that it isn't dangerous for normally healthy people, but the man was diabetic with an ulcer on his leg. The infection has reached his bloodstream and does endanger his life. Please pray for Mr. Gilpatrick.

19 July 2007

Some Thoughts About the High School Musical

My kids and I have the opportunity to go to see a musical this weekend - The High School Musical. We haven't ever seen it - but their friend Brenna is at camp this summer, and is performing as the shy pianist in the camp production of the same name. We rented it from Netflix so we could watch it in preparation for our outing. It turned out to be better than I expected.
When it comes to what my mom used to condescendingly call "teenie-bopper" movies - the "Disney" name tends to make me think "cheesy", as in all cheese and no meat! While I like that they are always clean, they are often so sanitized, that they struggle to leave anything close to a real story left behind. Real characters demand imperfection. However, this post is not to critique Disney, but rather to tell you how I was delightfully surprised at the poignant messages that were offered up to the audience.
One thing I always hated in public school is that once you got a label - jock, geek, nerd, cheerleader, prep, punk, whatever it may be - even if you changed, you could never change your label. I met a boy in our neighborhood not long ago who has been classified as a "bad kid" and a "skateboarder" - but he said he wants to play sports. Not only do the other kids give him a hard time, but the coaches (the so-called adults) won't even give him a chance. If he were not shoved into a stereotype - and they gave him an opportunity to do something else, they might well find that thing changes his course. Instead however, being as familiar with the status quo of education and politics, which are both at play here, he will be forced instead to hold true to this label and never rise above, stuck to fail forever. This movie tried really hard to get the point across that no matter what others think you are or should be, you don't have to fit their mold.
Not bad for a Disney movie!

18 July 2007

Instincts and Obligation and an Update

Well, first things first - my husband a/k/a the Fabio version of the computer geek - only without the long hair and without the rest of his body waxed of every hair - managed to get everything (we hope!) off of the hard drive on my computer. Hewlett-Packard is sending me a Fed-Ex box with shipping paid so I can send it to their repair center. I hope that we get this problem eradicated before the 1 year warranty of the darn thing is up. It must be something special about me - I do indeed have the opposite of the Midas Touch when it comes to electronic devices.

Now on to my regularly scheduled thoughts this evening:
Right now it is 10:15 pm, and Kendra decided a short while ago that she wanted to make a Chai cake she found in a recipe book yesterday - the chai flavor being her favorite and all. She asked if she could - and I hate to say it but I really struggled to say yes. You see, I am learning to live free - and accept that my kids need to live in freedom in order to blossom into the individuals that God made them to be. For Kendra, her optimum, peak-performance time is night. It has been since she was a baby. What upsets me is that I have to fight everything in myself so hard to allow them this freedom. I don't want a mess, or the noise, or the questions that will come with baking an unfamiliar recipe. But what my daughter needs to do is create - try her hand at something new. I grew up with an early bedtime, waking up every morning to the demands of an alarm clock or someone else's idea of what I should do and when, making my bed before I left my room, and following "the plan". This is very responsible, and there are likely quite a few of you reading this thinking, "what on earth does she think is wrong with that?" This routine may create an obedient, well-regulated, societally oriented person, but it will never facilitate the extraordinary. When I was in high school my life was school and work. I was a talented writer - but my homework assignments, even in the creative writing class that I loved, were delegated to an item to cross of the never-ending list of things that I was obligated to do. There was no joy, no searching out the world around me with wonder.
I watch television shows like the Gilmore Girls and see the college bound Rory that I adore, however, I find it supremely unrealistic. Rory is involved in about a zillion extra-curricular activities, has breakfast every morning before catching the bus with her mother at the local diner, participates in everything that is going on in the community, has a boyfriend, a best friend and reads constantly - not light reading either - Russian authors, and classics like Shakespeare, all while maintaining a grade point average to keep her at the top of her class. I am sorry but no real human can maintain all of that - but yet most of our society models their lives after what they see on the boob tube. I imagine many families watch the Gilmore Girls and feel inferior because their kids and families aren't doing all of that.
What I want is to create space in our lives for my kids to grow, branch out, try their wings. It is counter to everything I have ever learned. It reminds me of learning to breathe - it should come naturally - but when we are anxious or under pressure - we tend to hold our breath. I have been holding my breath my whole life waiting to learn this lesson - for them and for me. It is what unschooling is about - inhale - exhale - inhale - exhale.

Personal Computers: Extreme Frustration Edition

You won't believe it! I can hardly believe it myself. If you frequent this blog - you know that I had a major computer issue in MAY - where my hard drive failed - and HP had to replace it and send me a new one. It was about 10 days before I was back to normal - somewhat. I lost a folder of pictures and all kinds of other upheaval. Well this evening I was using my computer in a completely normal way - I don't even let the kids touch it because I can't afford to replace the thing - and it suddenly shut down. When it came up it gave me a funny message that my NTLDR (or something like that) was missing. I called HP - still had their number in my phone from just SIX weeks ago - when the last hard drive crashed - and after an hour and a half we determined that I had hard drive failure again. Folks, I just bought the dang thing in December - it is less than seven months old! HP is going to assign a customer service case manager and see about replacing it since it is evident that there is something wrong with the computer. But utter frustration abounds - and the worst part is that most new computers have Windows Vista - the operating system designed by Satan. Oh what a day. If I am a little less present here in my cyber home - you'll know why!

17 July 2007

The Relationship Journey

As we have been making the transition out of traditional church, and calling on the Lord to show us when and where and in what direction He wants us to take the next step, I have been evaluating my spiritual life. I have become skeptical of every ritual and routine, finding most of them quite hollow and meaningless. One place I have been second guessing recently is the ritual that my quiet time has become. I have done it for years out of obligation - feeling like it is something I, as a believer "should do". This emphasis has permeated the church. But I am wondering now, how vibrant and vital my relationship with my spouse would be if I said, "Hey, at 7:30 tomorrow morning, I am going to meet with you, and we'll have intimate fellowship."
I know that one reason we tend to "schedule" God in to our days is because that time spent with Him is a priority to us, and we are all so busy - and yet we may be missing the forest for the trees. All of life is spending time with Him. Last week for the first time in years, I found myself laying on my bed reading the word on a Saturday night just because I wanted to. Normally, "God-time" (if I may be so bold as to call it that) has been checked off the list early in the morning. I think it is a shame to say that it was like this for me, but I don't think that I am alone. Instead of being the lover walking on the beach hand in hand with the Lord, we become the annoying secretary, day planner in hand, cracking our gum and tapping our pencils, telling the Lord to come and move in our hearts at a time that is convenient for us.
The journey into a relationship with God that isn't dependent on any formula, ritual or format has been so freeing, and it has had me re-evaluating everything. I have been crippled and these routines, and things done out of obligation have been a crutch. I heard one of the speakers on the GodJourney podcast say that the system props us up and gives us a false sense of spiritual life where there may be very little.

My prayer today is that I would learn to live outside the place of striving to earn the love of God. That I could have peace and rest in living in His love 24/7. That I would allow the living God out of the box I keep trying to shove Him into, to invade every single moment of my day. Overwhelm me with Your presence Lord. Forgive me for what I have made of our relationship.

It is my prayer for you as well.

16 July 2007

Some "School" Stats

I don't post about "unschooling" much, per se, because it is a philosophy of life. There aren't lesson plans, lists to cross off, or things to do. We learn as we live - so in that sense I guess I am posting about it all the time. Today, I was listening to the news as I was getting dinner in the oven, and heard this statistic - that school children forget as much as 60% of what they learned the year before over the summer vacation. The reporter was suggesting that parents find opportunities to sneak "learning" into their children's summer fun. There are also those who are "school/education nazis" that would have children going to institutionalized schools all year long in order to help them retain what they are learning. I want to be slow to criticize because I used to think much like this. I am so thankful that I know my children are learning all the time through life and living.

That's What a Great Writer Does

My friend sent me an email today about a post she read on my blog from several months ago - and told me how it made her feel. Then she wrote words that will impact me forever.......
(but thats what a great writer does)
I changed the color for effect, but this is pasted directly from her email. I think I can die happy now. That affirmation, the knowledge that your words impacted someone - and for her to say such a thing means more than you could ever know. These kind and uplifting words have scrolled through my brain all day, lifting me up on the encouragement and praise of someone I value more than words can say!

Thank you Ethel!

Scrap Happy - Week 13

I had a great time making this page today - commemorating my youngest daughter's 14th birthday. It did however take me hours to figure out how to blur the edges and fade her picture into the background. But it was so awesome once I figured it out. There was a lot of experimenting with techniques, brushes etc. I got some of my ideas from tutorials in the Digital Scrapbooking magazine. If you haven't heard of it and you are a digital scrapbooker - I highly recommend it. There's lots of fun pages, samples, contests, and reader pages. Wow!
This week you'll actually get to see TWO pages - pretty much the same page with two different pictures. She didn't like the picture I had in the first one (posted at the bottom) and so I redid the page with another picture. We both like the second one better. But I got her permission to share them both with you so you could see the difference. I made the first one in black and white - or actually sepia tone. It is truly the most "artsy" page I've ever made - and of course I had to because Kaitlyn is my little artiste! The picture in the first page really does go better with the overall theme of the page as well! Happy Birthday my Kaity-bug!

And yet another page that I had to make for my birthday girl - I've had a very productive scrapbookin' day!
I can't wait to see the pages y'all are making this week. Please link them up here!
Happy Scrappin'!

15 July 2007

Grab an Oar!

East Texas has this funny way of thinking that God is reconsidering that whole colorful bow thing He put in the sky to dazzle the Mr. and Mrs. Noah clan. It is 6:30 am and I just woke to the most horrific thunder clap. It is dramatized by the rattly windows in this 100 year old house. We haven't been anywhere near the recent flooding in Texas, but we may be floating that way soon if this heavy rain keeps up. Man, it can come down here.

14 July 2007

Quirky Habits of a Would-Be Writer

I have noticed that lately I am sneaking into corners with my pen and notebook to scribble down my random thoughts. They are coming more and more in clumps of ideas that might actually lead somewhere. I'd appreciate your prayers for this part of my journey as a writer. It feels strange to be lurking around out of the mainstream, observing the world and living inside my head. I feel like I am regressing more and more into that world. I am becoming a complete weirdo!

13 July 2007

Blogger Reflection Award

My friend Karen gave me this award almost a week ago - and I just haven't had a chance to figure out who I am going to pass it on to. That is always the hardest part of these things. And there are so many who are worthy!
Here's how it works:
The reason for the title is because this award should make you reflect on five bloggers who have been an encouragement, a source of love, impacted you in some way and have been a Godly example to you. Five Bloggers who when you reflect on them, you get a sense of pride and joy...of knowing them and being blessed by them.
1. Copy this post
2. Reflect on five bloggers and write at least a paragraph about each one.
3. Make sure you link to this post so others can read it and the rules.
4. Go leave your chosen bloggers a comment and let them know they've been given the award.
5. Put the award icon on your site.

It is hard to choose with so many who are worthy, so many bloggers whose blogs have inspired me, encouraged me on my walk with God, and walked hand-in-hand so to speak with me through this journey of life.

A blogger who has recently started really writing some excellent posts is my daughter Kendra. We have always shared the gift of words. She writes from her heart, and always leaves me thinking. Reading her words is just like having a conversation with her. She is deep and heartfelt. I am crazy about that girl.
My friend Leslie a/k/a Boltbabe is another blogger who always leaves me better when her blog touches my life. She is a seriously frugal person - with tips, recipes, and recently a contest to win FREE gas!
My friend Sandy is deserving of this award. She writes from the depths of her heart, and shares on her blog the things that are going on in her life, and the process of how she and the Lord walk together through it.
Fatty probably already received this award - but if so, she deserves it again. I am so happy that I got to know here in the blogosphere. Reading her blog is something I truly look forward to. When her blog name is highlighted on my google reader, I get so excited at what jewel awaits me. She is so real - and that is what I love about her!
Another blog I really enjoy is Dena's Deliberations. This is another seriously frugal blogger with neverending tips on how to keep YOUR money in YOUR pocket. She writes about funny things her kids say, recommends curriculum for homeschool moms, home-making tips, etc. We also work together - she is my manager even though we have never met face to face - and it makes life so much better working with such a super lady!

So here are my awards. Pass it on ladies - pass it on!

Birth Order Predictor

I found this quiz on my friend Marsha's blog. She is a fellow Texan, mother of three boys, and amazingly seems quite sane! (Of course there are those posts about potty habits, bodily noises, etc.) This quiz seemed like fun - and the interesting part is that I was not an only child since I was 15 months old - but I did live occasionally as one after my parents divorce. I was also the oldest of two, and the oldest of five. Maybe I'll write a book one day to help you figure all of that out! Look at that last line - not the "self-help" part - but the "author" part!
You Are Likely an Only Child

At your darkest moments, you feel frustrated.
At work and school, you do best when you're organizing.
When you love someone, you tend to worry about them.

In friendship, you are emotional and sympathetic.
Your ideal careers are: radio announcer, finance, teaching, ministry, and management.
You will leave your mark on the world with organizational leadership, maybe as the author of self-help books.

12 July 2007

Makes You Scratch Your Head

My daughters and I have become addicted to Gilmore Girls. Even Kullen and occasionally Travis have gotten sucked into it with us. There was a comment on one of the episodes that we watched today about somebody putting someone else's bra in the freezer - and they asked me what that was all about. I explained to them that it was a "slumber party" prank. (We're getting quite the education!) I went to the kitchen to get a glass of ice water a little while ago and found this:
Which could only mean those strange unsocialized homeschoolers decided to prank each other - at the same time. Which is not much of a prank. Imagine their shock and horror when they realize I posted these pictures on my blog! Who is the REAL master prankster around here!??!

(I was even willing to risk the humiliation of showing you my freezer that has been broken and defrosting and refreezing and icing over again and again - and we finally got GE to agree to "buy back" from us this week! It was worth it!)

Sitcom Life

Sometimes I wish that life was like a sitcom with intense situations that resolve themselves in a matter of minutes. There are times when situations overwhelm me - I behave badly (even if I was justified in a wrong that was committed against me) and everybody in the house walks around refusing to make contact with me. Then on top of it I have to make amends. I hate that part. Not that I hate apologizing - I hate feeling at odds with people that I love.
Here's the deal - I have felt like a single parent for 16 years. My husband is lovely in a lot of ways but when it comes down to the nitty gritty job of parenting, it all falls on me. I am caving under the pressure. I feel like there are days when it is an uphill battle, and truthfully, I get tired. One kid has had clean towels laying in her room for 3 days - while there are none in the actual bathroom where people are needing towels, and today I find 3 kittens laying on them - and while this is dreadfully cute, I don't want hairy towels. And while she has not found the time to fold them, she has been on myspace, watched movies, etc. etc. Another child, while told they could NOT bring drinks in the living room any longer because every other time they do - there is a spill (and honestly I hate being an ogre - but I am tired of cleaning up spills because they cannot adequately remove the stickiness - I feel it is my right to put a moratorium on this child's living room drinking privileges) - however, daily I have to battle this same child over this same issue. I am just exhausted from the fight - and I feel like I do it alone. But if that wasn't enough, my husband gets tired of hearing it - and instead of roping the bulls, he goes for the cowboy that is barely holding on to the saddle to begin with.
I am tired - and whiny. Ugh. Goodnight cruel world. (I don't mean it! Praise the Lord His mercies are new every morning - and the way I see it - the quicker I get to sleep - the quicker that morning will be coming!)

Shut My Mouth

You can feel like a perfectly reasonable, completely sane, normal human being, until your children come along. They can take some of the most precious moments of your life and reduce them to something resembling a gross science experiment. Take the other day for example. I was in the car, minding my own business, concentrating on the road in front of me on our 4 hour road trip back from Aunt Vonda's house, and PRAYING to find a Starbucks in the land of nothing-ness. My 3 kids and our 16 year old neighbor, Kyle who we had taken with us as a hostage were chatting it up about birthdays in the back over the music when I suddenly heard my soon-to-be 14 year old daughter Kaitlyn announce that her dad had videotaped her birth. She went on to say how disgusting it was. I sat there for a moment wondering if I should be offended, thinking how she had dimished something so sacred, and beautiful and special, when divine inspiration gave me the words to silence the subject forever.......
"Well, at least we didn't videotape the conception."

11 July 2007

The Great Harry Potter Debate

Today is opening day for the movie, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I took my kids and a couple of friends to see the 12:01 am show for Kaitlyn's birthday because she wanted that instead of a party for her upcoming 14th birthday. Fans of the series will not be disappointed, but in the Christian community the debate remains.

I did not let my children read the Harry Potter books when they first came out. The first and most obvious issue is the "witchcraft". Second, as a believer, I tend to be leery about anything the world loves as much as they loved Harry Potter. I held the position that with so much other good that there was to read, why did they need to read the Harry Potter series?
Years later, I was reading a book by Gladys Hunt called Honey for a Teen's Heart. This author had also written a book that was a superior resource for finding great books for my children called Honey for a Child's Heart. Her recommendation of the series was enough to cause me to more thoroughly investigate them. I was at a place in my life where I had started reevaluating everything that I had put on a list of things we "don't do", to thwart a root of legalism that had been encircling my ankles much like a boa constrictor. I also read What's a Christian to Do With Harry Potter, and Harry Potter and the Bible. Both books were very informative, but allowed you to take the information and come to your own conclusion. Then I cautiously picked up the first book on a trip to the beach. I read the book in a matter of 3 days while sitting in the sand and sun and then allowed my 11 year old daughter to read it. She devoured it even more quickly, and we talked about it all along the way.
What I found first was that the books contained well developed plots and characters. The books are fantasy, on the same lines as Lord of the Rings or the Narnia Chronicles with both sides having magical powers. I also found it curious that our society accepts so many other things benignly that are laden with witchcraft - for instance, the Wizard of Oz containing both good and bad witches, and the occultic practice of astral projection used in the Christmas Carol movies as Scrooge is transported to the Christmas past and future.
I used to speak my opinions vehemently against the Harry Potter books. However, as I have taken a closer look at the books for myself instead of leaning on the investigation and opinions of others, I have been amazed at the things people will say to set up a defense against Harry Potter. One family told us that the author J.K. Rowling has claimed to have had sex with Jesus. (It feels wrong even writing that!) This was unconfirmed by an internet search, and while that is not watertight proof that it was not said, it is likely it would have been on every Christian website as a legitimate reason to avoid the books and movies. Another lady told me that she burned a set of books that were given to her child, and that they heard screaming when the books were set on fire. All sins being equal, is lying not as much a sin as witchcraft? And the lady that practically went to the floor repetitively saying the name "Jesus" in front of the life-size Harry Potter display advertising the next book do anything short of making Christians a mockery?

One thing that I was always concerned about culturally is that in a world that is spiritually hungry, the hype surrounding the Harry Potter and witchcraft may have piqued an interest in actual occult practices. I wonder if Christians may be inadvertently fueling that hype. Our culture has an epidemic of uninvolved parents - who put all of these things in front of their children and never discuss it, or help their children sort reality from fantasy.

Biblically, if your conscience tells you to refrain from something, then you should refrain, and if your conscience gives you freedom, live in that freedom. I refer you to I Cor. 10:

23"Everything is permissible"—but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible"—but not everything is constructive. 24Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others. 25Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, 26for, "The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it."[c] 27If some unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. 28But if anyone says to you, "This has been offered in sacrifice," then do not eat it, both for the sake of the man who told you and for conscience' sake[d]— 29the other man's conscience, I mean, not yours. For why should my freedom be judged by another's conscience? 30If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for? 31So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.

I would not promote Harry Potter to someone who has a spiritual weakness in this area – just as I would not pour a glass of wine with a friend who had a tendency toward alcoholism. If it is someone that I do not know, then I would refrain in both areas, as well as many others. For my family and I, we have enjoyed the Harry Potter books. We discuss the themes of love, redemption, good versus evil, etc. The movie last night made some pointed statements about “school” – with one professor stating that the point of education is to assist students in passing their O.W.L.S. (exams). The movie also illustrated the dangers of over-regulation and micro-management, and the importance of resisting evil – both physically and mentally.

When I was a little girl, watching Sesame Street, the "a la peanut butter and jelly sandwiches" used by the count did not make me want to do spells. I watched the Wizard of Oz and A Christmas Carol and was never had my interest piqued in witchcraft. I watched magicians on television make things disappear and reappear, cut things in half and put them back together, and made people levitate. As a child I found it entertaining, and nothing more than that.

I am interested in a respectful discussion for both sides of the issue. I am sure there is much I haven’t articulated here, or haven’t articulated well. I am not attempting to convince anyone, but merely sharing my journey through this issue, from one Christian mom to others.

10 July 2007

Goofy Girl Does it Again!

My daughter has been blogging more lately - and I wanted her to have it spruced up a bit. I sent an idea off to that Goofy Girl and I was again dazzled and amazed with the results. That is one talented Med student! She is t-riffic! Kendra's new blog design looks like this:
Kendra is addicted to the max to Chai-tea - her favorite being Tazo brand. I asked Heather (a/k/a Goofy Girl) to help us come up with a design that was along those lines and this is what she came up with! Isn't that stupendous! Plus that kid (Kendra) can really write - and needs an awesome blog. It is my gentle way of encouraging her to spend more time blogging and less time on myspace!

Bragging on My Man

This picture is kind of dark - but I wanted to show you what my hubby did while I was away the last four days. We bought a projector before we moved into this house, but since the house was full of windows, leaving little wall space, we weren't sure how we were going to ever use it. He used a white board to make this screen that hangs from the wall in front of our fireplace. It is going to be great. We are going to break it in sometime this week. The best part is that you can take it down and put it away when you aren't using it.
I was so proud of him when I came home yesterday. The sink was empty, the countertops were clean, the living room where he built the screen was even cleaned up and the BED was even made! Ah, it made the homecoming even sweeter!

09 July 2007

Be It Ever So Humble, There's No Place Like Home

Ah, nothing makes you appreciate home like going away. I have traveled more times this past year than ever in my entire life, and I have put this theory to the test. No matter how lovely your hosts, how well you are fed, or how beautiful your surroundings, there is nothing like your own bed, and your own home. Even the smell of the house when we walked in was more than just a smell, it was like breathing air again! And regardless of which state this house is in - our family has made this place a home - teeming with laughter, conversation, sometimes tears, and excessive family life!
We had a fantastic time while we were visiting with my sister-in-law, and enjoyed the baby shower for my niece immensely, but I was ready to be home. My hubby was ready for us to be home too. I was so excited because the house looked better than ever after I've been absent for a while, and we made up for four days of kisses and hugs! I am not sure why I missed him so much more this time than usual, but I think God is doing something very special between us.
Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home!

Scrap Happy - Week 12

I have been making new pages the past couple weeks - and it makes me so happy to just have a leisurely pace to work on them - and yet a motivator such as this meme! Even though there aren't many participants yet, I hope you will continue to put the word out about this for other scrapbookers - so that we can all get ideas and inspiration. My sister-in-law Vonda is an avid scrapbooker, and just being with her makes me want to scrapbook even more!
Here is this week's page:I had a lot of fun making this page from a terrific picture my daughter Kaitlyn took. She has a very artistic eye, however, I think this photo was done much by accident! However, I found it difficult to locate the perfect papers and elements for this picture. There isn't much scrapbooking stuff out there for "teen-boys".
I can't wait to see your pages this week!
Happy Scrappin'!

07 July 2007

Teenage Boys

In case you haven't ever assessed from reading this blog, I'm crazy about teenagers. I always have been - however, being the mother of two teenage girls, and a 9 year old boy, there is a mysterious shroud drawn over the lives of teenage boys - a place where I am sometimes invited to share, and often freaks me out. The land of stinky feet and unmade beds, deep voices, large appetites and the excitement of little boys, only bigger.
Today I entered my sister-in-law's office, and saw my nephew, Austin, and our neighbor, Kyle who we brought along with us, both 16, standing in the room holding DOLLS! Austin had a porcelain prairie girl doll, and Kyle was holding a Raggedy Ann doll. They were holding them up in the air - NOT like weapons, but in a gesture that looked like they were making them talk to each other.
I said, "I'm going out and coming back in."
They both followed me out of the room, yelling, "No, it isn't what it looks like. We weren't playing with the dolls."
I have to laugh. Of all the things that I might have expected to see teenage boys doing when I entered a room unexpectedly, this was not even on the list.
And it cracked.me.up!

Sucking the Life Out of Me

I don't like to rant about my children, and what little ogres they can be. Honestly, God spared nothing in this mother's heart of affinity and affection for her offspring but there are days when you can at least relate with the animal mothers that eat their young. Tonight was one of those nights for me. I was very excruciatingly sleepy around 8 pm but was visiting with family and did not get in bed until closer to 11 pm. My 9 yo son was staying up with his sisters and cousins and friend, and asked if he could wait a while to go to bed - so I said he could come to bed at 11:30 but not to wake me. Then somewhere around 11:30 as I was just starting to doze off, he came in and leaned over my sleeping body and asked if he could stay up just a little bit longer - they had gotten into some game and he wanted to finish. I said alright, but NOT to wake me again. At 12:30, I saw the room where I was sleeping was lit up, and heard a loud buzzing sound - and found my son had turned on the light and had started a nebulizer (used for breathing treatments for asthmatics). It was his cousin's and he just wanted to check it out. I asked him WHAT on earth he was doing. He must have realized he had provoked some sort of murderous rage, and turned everything off and left the room. I laid there angry, unable to just drift back to sleep, when the realization hit me that it was almost 1 am and he is still awake and that whatever game he had been playing was obviously over. I am tired, angry and ever so frustrated at the inability to get this child to understand how hateful it is to wake someone when they are sleeping. I have two children that have no regard for this, and I am not sure how they have gotten the idea that whatever they want to do is more important than a person's rest. I stormed out there and drug his little butt to bed. He listened to me as I explained that tomorrow I have to function without having had enough sleep and he apologized. I am trying to consciously parent my children the way the Lord parents me, but the thought crossed my mind a little while ago - as I lay in bed too frustrated to sleep again that God doesn't experience sleep deprivation. I hope He will help me be patient, as He is always patient with me. I have never woken Him up - but I know I have grieved His heart.

05 July 2007

Guess Who Shares My Birthday???

I know this may not matter as much to anyone else as it did to me when I first saw it - but I found this really neat blog called "Sweet Site of the Day" where I found a site called Famous Like Me. It was just for kicks and giggles - so I went over there to check it out. There was a long list of names I didn't know that came up for my birthday - but you'll never guess who shares my EXACT birthday - to.the.year - February 28, 1970 - - - Lemony Snicket. His real name is Daniel Handler - and he is the author of The Series of Unfortunate Events. I know it may not mean a thing - and it sounds somewhat superstitious - but he's a writer too!!!!! Coincidence? I think not! It was a day of words and grammar; a day that writers were born. Me and Lemony Snicket! Ha!

What's Up With Spoiling?

My girls and I have gotten totally hooked on the Gilmore Girls. The thing is that it is in its seventh season - but we just finished season 1! The biggest issue is that whenever we tell people that we're watching it and that we love it, they start telling us things about it that we don't want to know yet. That is part of enjoying the show - the finding things out - as they happen. I don't get it. Why do people do this? I am always sure to tell them quickly before they can talk that we have just started the series. I want to scream - "HEY SPOILERS! Put a lid on it!" My girls have encountered an obnoxious friend who seems to enjoy that he upsets them by telling them random things about the show. It isn't funny.
And then the other day I am just reading a blog that I have on my Google Reader, and the author is writing about Harry Potter and why her family reads it when so many other Christians have chosen to abstain. It was very interesting up to the point where she discusses how her son who enjoys the movie first and then the book was upset that she revealed that a certain person had died in the book she was reading (before the movie was released so he didn't know yet) - and she just names the character! Evidently she learned nothing from the episode with her son.
When someone is watching a movie or reading a book - if you tell them what is going to happen - what's the use in reading or watching anymore! Ugh! It would be like telling someone what you got them for Christmas while it is still wrapped up in the paper under the tree. Don't do it! Spoilers cease and desist!

04 July 2007

Undone - Conversations

I talked to my friend Carol today - and it was so awesome. She is absolutely the most awesome person to talk to when you are sorting things out - especially spiritual truth. We have been friends for 10 years now - and even though we can't get together for lunch or coffee or to take the kids ice skating anymore or go on vacation to the beach or have a Fourth of July cookout - the telephone is our greatest "friendship resource" - and believe me we've done a lot of sorting out on that phone through the years.
Let me preface by saying that Carol has been sick for the past week - and while all of this is going on in our lives, I haven't been able to talk to her! But we both decided that God had a purpose in that for both of us.
One thing she brought up to me was that in my excitement about what God has shown our family, I need to be careful not to sound condemning of others who have not come to the same conclusion. I believe wholeheartedly that our relationship with God is personal - and not corporate. It would then be a total contradiction for me to tell you that your relationship with God had to look like mine - or that your family needs to do what my family is doing. We are content with following where God is leading - and want to encourage others to follow Him - not us - and nothing less.
There was something else that came up in our conversation that I will write about later - that moved me to the point of choking back tears. I am broken, and undone, and it is here that Jesus is remaking me.
I also wanted to respond to another comment from that Canadian cutie Jane. She pointed out that some may think we are using hypocrisy in the church as an excuse not to attend. Believe me - I have always loved church. I have loved being with the body of Christ. I was not looking for an excuse to leave the church. For a couple of years now I have been making every excuse to stay in it has been apparent that God wanted us to do something different.
I am so excited right now about the Lord that it is like electricity in my heart and brain. I want to break every ritual and routine, and be left with Jesus. I want to live in and for His love alone.
I want that for YOU too.
I wish you for you the indescribable joy of His love!

03 July 2007

Undone - What About Fellowship?

I imagine that I will have more than one question to answer, or more than one follow-up to post about this post. This first one is to answer my friend Jane's question about gathering together with other believers. I used eSword to study this verse - Hebrews 10:25 - that says this:

Heb 10:25 Not3361 forsaking1459 the3588 assembling of ourselves together,1997, 1438 as2531 the manner1485 of some5100 is; but235 exhorting3870 one another: and2532 so much5118 the more,3123 as3745 ye see991 the3588 day2250 approaching.1448

I felt that inevitably this verse would come up - so I thought I would just cut to the chase. While this verse does say that we should not forsake assembling as believers, it does not say that on Sunday from 11:00 – 12:15 and on Wednesday from 7:00 – 8:00 and if you really want brownie points you can make it to Sunday School an hour before church, or a Sunday evening service. It says to get together as believers, encourage each other. Make it a habit – but not a ritual. But what we’ve done is make it a ritual – and we use this verse to place guilt on each other.

Here’s how the same verse is interpreted in The Message:

Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshipping together as some do, but spurring each other on especially as we see the Day approaching.

Let’s see how inventive we can be…..are you encouraged because I fill the pew behind you for one hour on a Sunday and Wednesday night? Maybe we never even speak – and sit in stony silence waiting for our shot in the arm, but we’re doing it at the same time. How much more full can the fellowship believers be than that?

When I think of worshipping with other believers, I am reminded that my purpose, the reason I am alive is to worship, and that any opportunity I have to be with other Christians praying, talking about – reading – chewing on the Word, giving spiritual counsel to a neighbor while we’re walking together or over coffee, riding down the road in the car with my kids singing worship songs to Jesus – these are all true to the spirit of that verse. For our family, we are considering opening our home to a house church – but we’re waiting on the Lord for direction. Right now we just need to detox .

I know every church is not like this – just the majority. What a blessing if this is not your observation of your local body.

What we do and call it “fellowship” or “worship” so much of the time is a performance. We want the approval of everyone but God. I know that what we are doing will not be approved of by everyone. But it is not anyone’s approval that I am after. I am coloring outside the lines. It may intimidate some. That’s okay. It would’ve intimidated me not long ago. My back is to the church, but my eyes are still on Jesus.

Thanks Jane for the great question – I need to work this out in my discussion with others as well. A lot of these things are unarticulated thoughts. I appreciate the feedback, and the non-judgmental way in which you asked the question.

My Artiste!

Kaitlyn took an oil painting class a couple of weeks ago and found it was something she really enjoys! We have also discovered that she is very good at it. Here are two of her paintings. I thought you might like to see them. The picture with the rustic house and tree with the mountain in the background was done in the class. Notice the ground-covering of bluebonnets? The picture really doesn't do it justice. The other picture is one she's done on her own at home. I think it is beautiful. It is so peaceful.
I love seeing the kids doing things that bring them such great joy! She was hiding out in her bedroom and didn't let any of us peek until she had it at least laid out! Great job Kaity-bug!

Undone for the Sake of Christ

I am certain that this post will be a shock to some that know me. I hope that I am able to articulate what has transpired in my life over the last year, and even going back before that, and how it has affected me, and the shift our family is experiencing as we come undone, and untangled from organized religion. God has been trying to show me for years now that what I thought was spiritual life, was little more than smoke and mirrors. What I though was worship was a fa├žade, an item crossed off a check-list of things to do in order to feel good about myself, and my standing with Him. Quiet time was a ritual, and little more than that. Even on the days that I tried hard to keep with me what I had digested that morning, more often than not, I was looking for a feeling of approval – like my mentally retarded brother –in-law says when he cleans his plate, or writes his name, “I did good”, and wearing it as a banner over my life as I interacted with others, a sense of superiority, I had my quiet time today. My Christian walk has been little more than a crawl – against the wind, in the desert sands, chasing mirages.

Since we moved, and I have been visiting churches full of unfamiliar faces, my eyes have been opened to the hypocrisy in my own heart, and what we call the “church” in modern day America. Face forward. Every head bowed, every eye closed. Sit. Stand. Sing 5 verses 3 times. Sit. Pray. Raise your hand. Don’t deviate from the program. How can God’s spirit move in the confines of our itinerary?

I began noticing that so much of what passes for a “sermon” has very little to do with the word of God, and much more to do with a social agenda. The church is anti-alcohol, anti-smoking, anti-gay, anti-pornography, anti-Harry Potter, anti-anti-anti, etc. and for years while we have had this growing laundry list of things we don’t “do” or “support”, we have done little to effect a real change. Jesus hung out with the whores, and thieves, and liars. He drew them into relationship with Him. He knew that no change could be affected without that connection, but we’ve pushed them out of the modern day church, in intolerant self-righteousness.

Recently, I heard someone say that we were moving out of the “church-age” and into the “relational-age”. I wasn’t sure at first exactly what that meant, but it resonated with me. I found myself saying to a friend not long ago, that I hated going to church. It scared me. What I want is not more “church-ianity” but a deeper relationship with Jesus. I am ready to shed the guilt of not doing enough, and walk one day at a time in His leading.

I found a website recently that is busy documenting the sweeping movement of committed Christians who are dropping out of formalized religion – and have decided to stop “going to” church and start “being” the church. It is called The God Journey. Finally someone was putting into words what I had been thinking and feeling. Intelligent, articulate people who were passionately in love with Jesus Christ but tired of church as we know it. Do we have it all figured out? Nope. That’s the beauty part, we get to get closer to Jesus and follow His leading. If you are feeling much the same way – I would highly recommend watching the videos found at Family Room Media about “Church Dropouts” and their series on “Church Outside the Walls”. There is also a vast resource of podcast archives, with a lot of nitty-gritty stuff to chew on.

Here was an amazing article, Is Jesus Enough. I say YES. He is enough. Peel back the layers Lord and let me be left with YOU! God is in control. All our trust is in Him. Our home is open. Our hearts are open. All our resources are in His hands. We wait with great anticipation to see what He is doing in us. This may not make me popular. In fact there was a time that I would have been furious with someone saying such things. But we know the road He is leading us down, and what else is there to do but follow.

I found this video that someone put together using clips from The Passion of the Christ to a Todd Agnew song, Which Jesus Do You Follow. It is my heartsong right now.

My Jesus

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Which Jesus do you follow?

Which Jesus do you serve?

If Ephesians says to imitate Christ

Then why do you look so much like the world?

Cause my Jesus bled and died

He spent His time with thieves and liars

He loved the poor and accosted the arrogant

So which one do you want to be?

Blessed are the poor in spirit

Or do we pray to be blessed with the wealth of this land

Blessed are they that hunger and thirst for righteousness

Or do we ache for another taste of this world of shifting sand

Cause my Jesus bled and died for my sins

He spent His time with thieves and sluts and liars

He loved the poor and accosted the rich

So which one do you want to be?

Who is this that you follow

This picture of the American dream

If Jesus was here would you walk right by on the other side or fall down and worship at His holy feet

Pretty blue eyes and curly brown hair and a clear complexion

Is how you see Him as He dies for Your sins

But the Word says He was battered and scarred

Or did you miss that part

Sometimes I doubt we'd recognize Him

Cause my Jesus bled and died

He spent His time with thieves and the least of these

He loved the poor and accosted the comfortable

So which one do you want to be?

Cause my Jesus would never be accepted in my church

The blood and dirt on His feet would stain the carpet

But He reaches for the hurting and despised the proud

I think He'd prefer Beale St. to the stained glass crowd

And I know that He can hear me if I cry out loud

I want to be like my Jesus!

I want to be like my Jesus!

Not a poster child for American prosperity, but like my Jesus

You see I'm tired of living for success and popularity

I want to be like my Jesus but I'm not sure what that means to be like You Jesus

Cause You said to live like You, love like You but then You died for me

Can I be like You Jesus?

I want to be like my Jesus

No more smoke and mirrors - I want Jesus and nothing less!

This Old House - installment #1 - Doorknobs

I have been thinking about how much I would like to visit the homes of some of my blogger friends, and have a long talk over one of those huge cups of coffee - in those round bowl-like cups that they drink out of on the Gilmore Girls. That thought inspired me to blog a bit about my "old house" - in a sort of "cyber visit". Today I wanted to post about doorknobs. (Yes it is 1 am and I just went through my house photographing doorknobs just for this post! My kids don't even bat an eye at the weirdness anymore.)
In our house we have several types of doorknobs. Some are the glass handles like the one to the left and there are others that are metal - some that have been painted white - and others not. These are all interior doors. There are also two "front doors" that go out to my porch - the kitchen doorknob is metal and the living room doorknob is glass. There is also a set of french doors between the living room and dining room that has a set of glass knobs that likes to fall off in your hand from one side or the other. We don't use that door much, so we just leave the beautiful knob assembly laying on the piano!
In general doorknobs aren't that fascinating, but in an old house they really are. These knobs are in solid wood doors, and both door and knob were built to last. In our WV house, we had to replace a door before we moved and found that the plastic-y doorknob was fused with the door. Weird - cheap - mass produced.
Show me something about your house. If you do, leave the link to your post in the comments - and I'll add a list at the bottom of this post!
For some reason "Blogger" won't let me upload any more pictures tonight - maybe I'll fascinate you with more doorknobs later!

02 July 2007

I'm a Writer! I'm a Writer! I'm a Writer!

There is a lot happening on the writing front.
First I never mentioned, gentle readers, that I have already been published in a book about homeschooling that was originally going to be titled "Juggling with Hamsters". It is only an excerpt about the length of an average blog entry in the back of the book - or so I'm told. I've never gotten my complimentary copy.
Second, today I sold my first Homeschool Co-op Planner! Woo hoo! That got me pretty juiced up about writing.
Third, I finished a chapter I have been working on about unschooling, and was rather happy with the outcome. The lady that is putting the project together contacted me and said it was the first entry that didn't have to have any editing - none, zero, zilch! When I wrote back and told her I wanted to be a writer - she replied, "You are a writer! You don't have to become one!"
Wow - so I am.
Very cool.