Friday, July 31, 2009

More Prayers Answered

This is the third and final installment on a sermon I heard recently on getting your prayers answered. The first week we covered reasons why your prayers might not be getting answered. Last week we talked about waiting on the Lord and God's perfect timing.
We also need to have a practical faith in God. Matthew 21:22 says And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive. When you pray for something, do you believe God will actually answer you? It seems like a dumb question to ask, but think about it. Are you ever surprised when you get an answer to prayer? Why? Is He God or not? Does He mean what He says or not? You can have perfect faith in Him that He will fulfill His promises.
You can also know your prayers are going to be answered if you are asking after God's will. We may be asking for something that's good and right and makes perfect sense to us. But does it fit in with God's will for our lives? Is it truly something that would be best for us? So how do we know God's will? I think many people try to make discerning God's will difficult or mystical, but there's no secret code. The more you know your husband, the more you know what he wants and what pleases him. It's the same with God. If you're spending time reading and studying His Word, if you're spending time in prayer with Him, He'll make His will easy for you to recognize and follow.
When you are in the center of God's will, there is a perfect peace. John 15:7 tells us, If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. You can rest in Him. You can have perfect peace. What it boils down to is this: you can trust Him. He only wants what's best for you.
Finally, a pattern of obedience to God's Word will help to get your prayers answered. This is according to I john 3:22. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.
Is God's Word true? Are His promises real? Then what are you waiting for? Start getting your prayers answered!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Have Your Cake and Eat It Too

I think I've found a new technique to help me with my diet. Maybe you're like me and always struggling with staying on the diet and trying to lose weight. Sometimes (and I mean a random sometimes--I haven't pinned down what works yet) it can help to simply look at food. The food itself can be so pleasing to the eye, that there's no need to taste it.
Now before you roll your eyes at me, I do mean this literally. But again, I don't always know why some foods satisfy with a look. Sometimes I can look at a food and that's not enough. I want to put it into my mouth and savor the taste. Obviously chocolate is one of those foods that have to be tasted. Looking at it never satisfies unless I'm looking at it in my hand, headed toward my mouth.
Last night when there was nothing on TV, I found myself landing on the food network. Now, that channel can be a dangerous one. One show can make me long for just a taste (a big taste!) of whatever the chef of the hour is cooking up. At other times, I know I'd never make the recipe myself, but I enjoy watching them make it. (I'm rarely inspired to get excessively creative in the kitchen!)
But last night I stumbled across a show called Ace of Cakes. I hesitated. Cake is one of my weaknesses, after all. Along with all things sweet. But I wanted to see what they were going to do. And I have to say, these guys are amazing! I was totally inspired by their work, but felt not the slightest desire to eat cake. Probably because their creations are such works of art, it's a shame to actually cut and eat them.
The first cake they made was a giant replica of a book that had just been published, and they were making this cake for the book launch party. Totally incredible work complete with painting the founding fathers on the cover and displaying the whole cake on top of edible paper printed with edible ink, made up to look like the Federalist Papers.
The next cake was shaped and decorated to look like rows of classics on a library cart. These looked like real books, and it was an incredible piece of work. Then they made a cake that looked like a stack of favorite toys for the first birthday of a set of twins. They worked off an actual picture of a stack of actual favorite toys.
These cakes were so incredible I couldn't imagine actually eating one. Although, supposedly they taste fantastic as well. It was just so much fun to look at! My boys came in and watched the show with me. They're not fond of the food network, but they were fascinated by this show!
So for once I was able to have my cake without the accompanying guilt or sugar-induced headache. I found out that this bakery is called Charm City Cakes, and their website has a lot more pictures of their fantastic creations. The pictures on the blog today are two of the cakes that I found on their website. What fun! I'm enjoying food with no calorie-counting. My only fear is this: I seem to gain weight just looking at food. I'm afraid my visit to their website may have put on ten pounds! Check it out at your own risk.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


I just don't get it. I've been doing it for a couple of weeks now, but I still don't get it. Remember in the movie Bambi how Thumper got all twitterpated when a girl bunny looked at him? defines twitterpated as confused by affection or infatuation. Well that's me. I am confused by people's affection and/or infatuation with Twitter.
I've been told that, in preparation for someday having my writing published, I need to start building a platform. Social networking is essential in these times to getting your name out there. After doing some research I found that the top ways of networking seem to be blogging (you're reading it), website, (working on it), facebook and twitter. I haven't gotten on facebook yet. I keep putting that off because I'm not sure I want people from high school to be able to find me again. There's a reason we never kept in touch.
As for twitter, I put it off for a long time. I didn't get why anyone would want to read "tweets" from others. Each tweet can only be 140 characters. What can you say in that amount of time? I also worried that I wouldn't have enough stuff to even fill 140 characters. After all, how many times would people want to read that I was sitting at my desk? Standing at the copier? Cooking dinner? I'm getting bored even reading about it here! But many different sources say it's great for social networking, so I took the plunge.
I didn't realize I'd have to learn a new language. "Twitterverse" is the twitter universe. I now have "tweeple" and I send "tweets". If I send something I shouldn't, it's a "mistweet". And then I might feel "tweepish" about it. You can have a lot of "twaffic" and if you want to make fun of someone on twitter you "twaunt" them. I personally don't follow the "twitterati" (Glamourous A-listers that everyone wants to follow).
I do follow some of my favorite authors, and it's occasionally fun to get a glimpse into their life. At the same time I feel somewhat akin to a stalker. Then again, sometimes these people don't live any more interesting lives than I do. I really don't care that they just cleared the inbox in their email account. And I'm not really moved by what they had for supper. Part of my problem might be that, as boring as some of this information is, mine is more boring. After all, some of these people tweet about going out for sushi. I don't like sushi. I don't want to eat sushi. But still, it sounds more exciting than, say, "Fixed hamburger helper again tonight." Someone tweeted about eating fish tacos. Ummm--gross! The two just don't go together in my mind.

Then again, I wonder about some of these people. One person tweeted that they had been playing in their sandbox with their child for over an hour. Seriously? You keep your phone or itouch in your pocket while you're in the sandbox? How's that working out for you? And is your kid tweeting to their friends about playing in the sandbox too? Other people tweet that they're just leaving on this errand or that trip. You're walking out the door and you're tweeting about it? Maybe it's just me, but when I'm heading out the door I'm usually late, herding kids along with me, and I have my hands full. I would have to stop and tweet before heading out the door. Or stop after we get into the vehicle so I could tweet then. I read tweets about people heading to Starbucks or settling down to write. I can counter with a tweet about how I just ran through the McDonald's drive through and got one of their $1 Diet Cokes. Honestly, this is more info than even my mother would want to know about me.
I think what bothers me most, though, is that, as silly as these tweets are, these people's lives are still more interesting than mine. It's being pointed out to me numerous times on a daily basis that I have no life. That's a big ego booster.
But still I keep plugging away at it. After all, important people swear by it. For instance, Michael Hyatt, the CEO of the publishing company Thomas Nelson, is a well-known proponent of twitter. He swears by its success as a social networking tool and he tweets all the time. You could almost say he's a twitterholic. So I'm following him on twitter, and I'm learning a lot about him.
For one thing, he likes fish tacos.

Monday, July 27, 2009

She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not

This is part four in the story of how Terry and I ended up together. This carnival has been a lot of fun, and I've really enjoyed reading all the love stories. To catch the beginning of the carnival, go here.

To read the beginning of my story you can go to:

Part 1 or Part 2 or Part 3.

So I had gotten through one date with Terry, but the agony of nerves just about had me convinced to embrace the single life. I told my sister there was no spark, and then I turned Terry down the next three times he asked me out. I didn't even use an excuse, just a straightforward "no, thank you." But I was beginning to feel guilty. He was a really nice guy. And I did want to get married to someone eventually. While I struggled inwardly, a mutual friend asked me why I kept turning him down.

"I don't know," I answered. "I just--I don't know." Clear and concise. You can't get much better than that.

"If he asks you again would you say yes or turn him down again?"

I hesitated. "If he were to ask again, that's really persistence. I guess I'd have to say yes, wouldn't I?" I felt safe in my answer. After all, what guy would ask a fourth time?

Guess who.

I was totally humiliated to find out later that the mutual friend told him, "Jill says to ask again." At any rate, he did and I said yes and that was the start of our dating. About a month later, Terry started hinting around that he loved me. Well I had determined a long time ago that I would not say those three words except to the guy I was going to marry. And I didn't love Terry. Of course, I was basing my opinions on the fact that I had only know him for a month and you couldn't possibly know if you loved someone in a month. I never actually analyzed or addressed whatever feelings I actually had. (Did I mention that I ended up married in spite of myself?) So he would say I love you, and I would answer that I liked him a lot. Or that he didn't know what love was. Or I'd make some silly off-the-wall observation. Before school was out for the summer we did exchange class rings and agree to go steady. That seemed safe to me. Terry was going to be working as a counselor at camp all summer and I was going home to work an office job. We exchanged letters through the summer and he came to visit for a week during July. I felt both thrilled and confused with every letter. I didn't know what to do with all these emotions swirling around in me. I enjoyed our week together and then cheerfully waved him off when he left to go back to camp. We planned for him to come back the week before school started and stay a few days with us. Then we would go back to school together.

Terry showed up earlier than we planned, and somehow that threw me completely. I walked in after work to find him already in my mom's living room. And suddenly I didn't want to be there. The whole relationship just made me completely confused and I didn't want any part of it anymore. I knew I couldn't break up with him while he was staying with my parents, but I determined that I would end this as soon as we got back to school. In the meantime, I would simply make sure we were never alone together.

The evening he came we went to prayer meeting where I saw my married sister. She asked me how things were going with the boyfriend. I don't know if it was the shrug, the half-hearted "Okay, I guess", or the near tears, but somehow she figured out that something was wrong. She quickly hustled me into another room and asked what was going on. All the confusion and fear I had over our relationship came pouring out. I ended with saying that I thought it was best to just break things off. My sister started her advice with a keen observation.
"Well you can't break up with him while he's here."
"And you can't break up with him right after you get to school."
Now wait a minute--
After some arguing my sister convinced me that the first few days of school, with registration for classes and getting settled in, were hard enough. It would be cruel to break up with someone then. She made me promise to wait until we'd been at school for two weeks before I broke it off. I wasn't too happy about this. I'd already made my decision and I wanted to get on with it. But I agreed to the two weeks. Back at school, I still kept Terry at arms' length. If we hung out it was usually in a group, and I tried to keep from having any personal conversations. I was determined to put in my time and then be done with the whole thing.

Obviously a blind man could have seen that I had a problem. Terry finally asked me about it one afternoon. I hemmed and hawed, but finally all my confused feelings came pouring out. That I didn't know what I wanted and I felt pressured and I wasn't sure that I would ever love him and I even told him about my promise to my sister. "I'm just so confused, and I think we should break up, and I didn't want to talk to you about this right now, and I feel really bad because I dumped all this on you and now I have to go to work."
It was true. I had about a minute and a half to get upstairs to the office where I was working part time that semester. "It's okay," Terry told me, looking stunned. "Go on to work and we'll talk about this after supper."
He looked as miserable as I felt. This was what I wanted. Why did I feel worse now than I did before? "I feel like I just slapped you in the face."
He shrugged and gave a little smile. "I feel like I've been slapped in the face. But it's okay. Go on to work. We'll deal with this after supper."

Tune in next Monday to read Part 5!

Friday, July 24, 2009

I Aren't Smart

Sometimes when I'm helping my children with their schoolwork, I find that they need something a little more than the knowledge that x=5. (That is the only algebraic formula I know. It works for me.) Sometimes when my children are struggling for the answer, the problem is not understanding. The problem is exercising the brain enough to figure out the answer. After all, education is not just a matter of learning facts, but of reasoning through and thinking through things in order to come to the right conclusions.
So sometimes when my children come to me with a problem, I point out the page where the answer is and tell them "it's in here somewhere. Find it." Many times I get a despairing look. The look is all I get because they know better than to whine. That's never gotten them anything in our house. The look doesn't get them much either, but I will tell them, "You're smart. You can figure this out." I try to tell my kids they're smart often. They blossom under the positive reinforcement. Plus, if I say it often enough, maybe it will really happen. : )
Nine times in ten the affirmation-receiving child will figure out the answer. They're in a kind of catch-22. After all, if they come back a second time looking for the answer, it's like they're admitting they're not smart. It ends up being a challenge to them to prove that I was right about their intelligence. They succeed in finding the answer, they prove they were smart, they feel really good about themselves. It's a process that works.
Just recently I was on the receiving end of the process. It's not quite so pleasant from this side. I think I've mentioned before that I work in an auditing office. Most people that know me find it amusing that my job involves working with numbers since math was never my strong suit. (I really do believe x=5.) When I started the job, almost a year ago, I enjoyed the sensation of being the "new kid". I worked at learning the job, but there are a lot of details and variables in the work. If I didn't know something, no one faulted me for it because I was new. Plus, being low woman on the totem pole, most of the work I got was grunt work. In all honesty, I didn't mind a bit. I enjoyed coming in and accomplishing something and then going home and forgetting I even had a job. I did whatever was asked of me, and I did it to the best of my ability, but still I wasn't actually responsible for anything except the assignments I was given. I wasn't working the job in order to fulfill anything other than our pocketbook.
Well, all that changed a few months ago. One of my bosses declared that I wasn't being used "to my full potential". So I was given new duties. Duties with responsibility attached to them. Bear in mind that this is governmental auditing. There's not supposed to be any mistakes. One of my new duties involved proofing all our reports and making sure there were no mistakes before they were sent out. Part of that job wasn't so hard. Misspelled words and incorrect grammar seem to jump out at me from the page. On the other hand, I was also put in charge of making sure the content was correct based on the findings of the auditor. Huh? There were so many details and variables I was sure I would never get it. It didn't get any better when they explained to me that these 3-4 pages of content were the heart of the report. All else was necessary, but these 3-4 pages were "what we get paid for doing". Okay. So no pressure here at all.
I balked and dragged my feet a little bit. I expressed doubt as to my ability. I even whined just a bit. (Don't tell my kids!) My boss's answer? "You're smart. You'll figure it out."
Well slap me upside the head. As much as I didn't want this duty, now I had to take it. I couldn't admit I wasn't smart. This is a very frustrating position to be in.
I still use the phrase with my children. I still believe it motivates them. But it's aggravating to have the same techniques used on me. I think now I'm going to have to be smart enough to think up new ways to motivate. Maybe I'll go with the "Nobody is that dumb" negative reinforcement. Set the bar a little lower.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Getting Your Prayers Answered Part 2

I started sharing this message that I heard on prayer last week. For that post, click here.
In addition to having a heart for God, we also need to wait on the Lord. Psalm 40:1-5 says, I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD. Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies. Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.
Sometimes we're not too patient when it comes to getting our prayers answered. We feel like this is something we need, and we need it right now. So why doesn't God give it to us right now? For one thing, God is thorough. We might get a partial answer today, but if we're willing to wait for God's timetable, He can give us something infinitely better. I remember many years ago we had a truck that we were trying to sell. We could not afford the payments and so I prayed that God would allow the truck to be sold before the next payment date. The payment date came and went, and the truck still sat in our driveway. I prayed harder. I reminded God of His promises. I asked why He would not want us to get out from under this financial burden. All the way through the ten day grace period after the due date, I prayed. But I had a little trouble believing God would come through. I came home on the tenth day to find the truck gone. Had it sold? My husband told me someone was test driving it, but they didn't seem real interested in it. I went inside and prayed again, begging God to help us. Come to find out, the potential buyer made a living as a piano tuner. My piano was horribly out of tune, but as it wasn't an absolute necessity, we didn't want to spend the money on it. The piano tuner bought the truck and my husband got him to throw in a free tuning as part of the price.
Had I gotten the answer when I wanted, we would have sold the truck, but God wanted to throw an extra blessing our way. I'm glad He didn't answer my prayer when I first prayed. Psalm 37:7 tells us to keep waiting on the Lord. Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. Rest in Him and don't worry. He's got it covered.
We also need to remember that "wait" and "no", while not what we want to hear, are also answers to prayer. One time when our son, Matthew, was about fifteen, some of his friends were going to have an all night x-box party. Everyone would bring their game systems and they would link them all together and play all night. I'm not much for all night stuff anyway, but this party especially did not set well with me. I wasn't sure how much supervision there would be. I didn't trust everyone that would be at the party. And as cool as the gaming sounded, I knew from experience that it would probably not keep the boys entertained all night. Which meant they would be looking for other forms of amusement. So Terry and I said no. Actually, what we said was that he could go until eleven that night, and then we would pick him up. The party was scheduled on a Wednesday night after prayer meeting, so he would have had about two hours or so to play. Even that didn't work out and Matt ended up staying home.
Within the next few days we found out that some of the boys had been outside playing around during the wee hours of the morning. This turned out to be a problem when complaints arose that several vehicles in the neighborhood had been vandalized during the night. All the boys were questioned and there was a big stink about the whole thing. I don't know that any of the boys were involved, but their testimony was damaged. So was the testimony of that family in their neighborhood. Matthew came to me later and thanked me for not letting him go to the party. Now there was no question as to whether or not he was involved, and his own reputation was fully intact. Sometimes, even when we don't realize it at the time, a "no" answer is what's best for us.
Until we get that answer, whether no or yes, we need to keep asking because He does promise to answer. Matthew 7:7-8 says Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. What a promise!
Next Thursday we'll finish this discussion on how to get your prayers answered.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Well Shut My Mouth!

Please tell me I'm not the only one with open-mouth-insert-foot disease! I've pretty much gotten to the point where I know not to say inappropriate things, but I still have trouble with things sounding one way in my head and then sounding completely different when I say them out loud. Then, too, I still have trouble with not thinking in my head at all before something pops out my mouth. Want to hear (and laugh at) my latest blunder? Read on!
In choir practice we were going over a piece of music. The choir director stopped us and commented, "You're all still coming in too early on that word, 'but'. You need to watch that."
I tried watching for the timing, but I still wasn't getting it right. Then the girl next to me pointed out that I was on the wrong page. And that's when it popped out my mouth.
"Oh! I've been looking at the wrong but!"
The people around me thought it was hysterical. And they were more than happy to share it with other choir members who hadn't heard me the first time. I wanted to crawl under the pew. This was definitely not what a pastor's wife should be saying out loud. (Or thinking either, for that matter!)
So help me out here. Share a foot-in-mouth moment of your own so that I don't think I'm the only idiot on the planet. (Make one up, if you have to. I'm desperate here!)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Are You Talking to Me?

So sorry I'm a day late with this. Monday was--well, it was Monday. What can I say? This is part three in the saga of how Terry and I met.

To read part one, click here.
To read part two, click here.

"There's this guy that's been asking about you."
My second semester into college, and suddenly everywhere I turned people were telling me this. I hadn't heard of this guy before so he had to be new. But I had trouble figuring out which guy he was. As important as it was to get my MRS degree, I was still painfully shy. I didn't always make eye contact and I found my gaze stopping just below most people's chins. Fortunately for me, Terry wore a jacket with his name on it. As long as he was wearing it I could recognize him. Of course, I could probably also recognize him because he was grinning every time he looked at me. I had longed for attention, but this guy made me uncomfortable. For one thing, the people he asked about me were not people I knew very well. He told me later that he was simply asking anyone and everyone he came in contact with. But I had near strangers coming up to tell me about this guy. If he was so interested in me, why didn't he talk to my friends? My roommates? My classmates? Why did he have to approach the girl I couldn't stand--the flirt that put on the worst dumb bunny act I had ever seen? And then tell her that she looked like my sister?!? When I heard that, I told my real sister that if this guy was that dumb I wasn't sure I wanted to date him anyway.
I didn't necessarily make that good an impression either. I was dining hall hostess that year, meaning I had to check student ID's, count customers and handle the occasional cash transactions at lunch. One day a student explained to me that his friend had forgotten his ID, and could he please go through line anyway? I looked up to the friend and found Terry grinning at me. At least, I thought it was Terry. He didn't have his jacket on.
"Okay, he can go through. THIS time." But when he forgot his ID again a few days later, I refused to give in. I wasn't going to be taken advantage of and I certainly wasn't going to jeopardize my job just because he couldn't remember to slip his ID into his pocket before he left his dorm room. He had a twenty minute round trip to the dorm and back for his ID, and then he had to stand at the back of the line again. But when he came through the second time, he was still grinning. Clearly this guy was not going to be discouraged easily.
The following Saturday some friends and I decided to borrow a car and get off campus for a while. We were going to head into the city and do some shopping and hang out for the day. We had just finished making all the arrangements and I was headed across the main hall when someone bumped into me. By this time I could recognize Terry without his jacket. He was still grinning, although he look embarrassed. (I found out later he asked a friend to give him a push when I walked by because he was nervous about approaching me.) He asked me if I wanted to go to dinner with him that night, but I explained I was just on my way out for the rest of the day. Then he asked about Sunday dinner.
Our church was having a potluck dinner after the service.
Awana. I don't eat supper on Mondays.
By this time his smile was dimming a little, but he kept it up. You have to admire that kind of determination. He asked me out for Tuesday night, and we agreed to meet at 5:30. At this point I did not see him as husband material, but I did have a bonafide date with someone that actually wanted to spend time with me. I floated through the weekend with my own grin. I was so looking forward to this. Right up until Tuesday afternoon when it suddenly hit me that I had no idea what we would talk about. I didn't know how to carry on a conversation. I hardly knew this guy. And then I became violently ill.
I would have considered calling off the date, but this was before the time of cellphones and there was no easy way to reach him. I would have to go through with this, but I was suddenly rethinking the whole getting married thing. Did I really want to go through the agony of nerves it took to date and get to know someone well enough to get married? Was it really worth all this? (I'm nothing if not dramatic.) With some not-so-gently bullying from my sister I finally pulled myself together and went to meet him.
By this time I was half an hour late, but he didn't seem to mind at all. (Now of course he has a serious problem with it. How things change in twenty-three years!) The line to the dining hall that night was longer than I ever remembered seeing it. We stood awkwardly together, trying to ignore various friends that smirked and gestured as they walked by us. First dates are brutal in a small college. After a while, Terry started making conversation.
"I hear you're from Illinois." I nodded and we chatted about that for a moment.
"And you're a pastor's daughter."
"You come from a large family, don't you?" I was starting to feel a little weird. How did he know so much about me? He told me later that he asked a lot of questions about me before the date so that we would have something to talk about. But the way it came out, it seemed a whole lot more like stalking than casual interest. I was glad we were surrounded by witnesses.
When we finally settled down at a table, I found out that the meal was tacos that night. Great. Like my stomach needed a little spice. Plus, how did you look cool and fun while you had taco stuffing dribbling out of it's shell? I looked up to find him staring at his taco as well. Finally he looked at me and grinned.
"I never know how to eat these things without making a mess," he confessed cheerfully. Then he dumped his taco out on his plate and broke the shell over it, making a great taco salad. I did the same, grateful to actually be able to use a fork. We made small talk throughout the meal, and managed to avoid anymore of those awkward pauses. When we said goodbye that night, I was happy to be through. My sister asked how it went and I told it was fun, but there was no spark. "I don't think I'll be dating him again."
What I didn't tell her was that I didn't think I'd be dating anyone again. Ever. I was so shy that meeting new people and getting to know them was agony to me. Surely marriage and happily-ever-after bliss was not worth this. I had a new perspective on being single all my life. And it didn't look so bad at all.
If you want to read more romantic stories and see how this whole carnival started, click here.

Tune in next Monday for part 4!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Whatcha Readin'?

What kind of books do you like? There are so many to choose from: self-help, biographies, history ... The list goes on and on. I personally like to read (and write) fiction. I enjoy escaping into another time and place every once in awhile and letting my imagination sore. Even in fiction there are so many choices: contemporary, historical, mystery, suspense, science fiction. I've read and enjoy most types of fiction. What a lot of people don't realize is that there is a whole realm of Christian fiction out there as well. Romance novels that have pure, sweet romance without scenes that make you blush. Suspense without horror, books that don't use vile language to get their meaning across. Christian fiction has made great strides in the last decade and if you're not checking into what's available, you might be missing out.
So I've decided from time to time to give a little info on my blog about various authors that I enjoy reading. Maybe you'd like to take a look at the author's website or browse through the fiction section the next time you're in your local Christian bookstore. Today I'm spotlighting Lawana Blackwell. Lawana writes historical fiction and I first came across her books through the Gresham Chronicles. This is a four-book series set in an eighteenth century English dairy village. Before you yawn and click on another link, let me tell you a little bit about this wonderful series.
The books start out with The Widow of Larkspur Inn. The main character is Julia Hollis, a widow with three children. After her physician husband died of a heart attack, Julia discovers that he had a gambling problem and has left the family practically penniless. So she moves her children from London, to the Larkspur Inn, the only piece of property the family still owns. The story is so enjoyable as you read how Julia and her children adjust to country living while turning the inn, which had been empty for eight years, into a lodging house. At the same time they must deal with the town people who are convinced the Larkspur has a ghost haunting it.
In the second book, The Courtship of the Vicar's Daughter, we become better acquainted with Elizabeth and Laurel, the daughters of the vicar that moved to Gresham in the first book. The family moved to Gresham to get away from a rogue who broke Elizabeth's heart. In this book they must deal with the rogue once again when he follows them to Gresham, claiming to have turned over a new leaf.
The third book in the series is The Dowry of Miss Lydia Clark, and I think it's one of the best of the series. Miss Clark is the school teacher. At the age of thirty-four she is considered to be an old maid because she has never married. She is convinced she is not attractive enough to get a mate and, in a no-nonsense way, is content with teaching and tending to other people's children. All this changes when two men in the village each decide they want to try for her hand in marriage. Both men assume she is desperate and find her dowry more attractive than she is. In the meantime, Miss Clark falls for a shy man who has asked her to tutor him, with the goal of impressing the woman he thinks he loves. She falls for him while helping him woo another woman.
All of the books are written with a gentle humor and dry wit. Trust me, once you visit Gresham in the pages of Lawana's novels, you'll want to stay awhile and enjoy it.
If you would like to find out more about Lawana Blackwell, here is the link to her website. You can also find her books on
Go visit Gresham for a while. If I see you there, I'll give you a wave across the village green.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Getting Your Prayers Answered

Last night at prayer meeting the pastor spoke on getting your prayers answered. It was such an encouraging and informative message that I wanted to share some of it with you.
In the first place, there are some things that will hinder your prayers from being answered. Psalm 66:18 says If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me. If we are holding onto or even hiding sin in our lives, it will hinder our prayers. Did you know that even a sour marriage relationship can interfere with answer to prayer? Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered. That's I Peter 3:7. Even asking for the wrong reasons can keep our prayers from getting answered, as James 4:3 tell us. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
So how do we get our prayers answered? God has plenty to say about that as well. Jeremiah 29:13 tell us And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. There are times when my kids ask for something, but I don't give it to them. It's not necessarily bad for them, but I know they don't really want it. I don't say yes simply because their heart is not totally in it.
Last year Stephanie really wanted a cell phone. She not only asked for one, but she found the one she wanted, she found a great deal on the phone, and she pointed out a list of reasons why it would be a good thing for her to have a cell phone. Then she had to convince her dad. Terry was very noncommittal about the whole thing. Stephanie chose her times wisely, but when she had a chance she would ask. And plead. If he seemed inclined to turn her down, she would stop him by suggesting that he not give an answer now, but just think about it for a while. And then she would ask if there was anything she could do for him. She made it clear her heart was in this request.
How many times do we say a perfunctory prayer over something and then never mention it again? God desires us to communicate with Him, and even though He already knows what's on our hearts He wants to hear from us. One way to get your prayers answered is to "seek Him with your whole heart". Show Him what it means to you.
Next Thursday I'll cover some other ways to get our prayers answered.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Love Is A Choice

Love is a choice. Were you aware of this? I've been thinking about this a lot, especially with the Meetings, Marriages, and Memories carnival at Musings of a Future Pastor’s Wife that's been running on Mondays. If you want to read the beginning of my love story, you can click here.
It's fun to remember how things began, but it also reminds me of how little teenagers and young adults know about true love. Think back. Can you remember the pounding heart? The weak-in-the-knees feeling whenever he looked in your direction? The way he filled your every waking thought and a good many of your dreams? The minutes in his presence flew by and the second he was out of your sight, you were counting the minutes until you were together again. It's all so incredibly romantic, isn't it? Except for one thing. None of those feelings are true love.
Now don't write me off as cynical. I believe in love. I have experienced it. But love is not just an emotion. It is a decision. The feelings, the tingling, the emotion--that's all great stuff. But you can't build a relationship on it. Not one that will last a lifetime. I have a confession to make. When my husband and I hold hands, I don't get the same breathless tingle I used to. Don't get me wrong. I still thrill to his touch and I enjoy being with him. But the intensity of holding hands is not the same. However, my love for him is deeper and stronger than it ever could have been twenty-three years ago.
See, this is the thing that teenagers can't seem to understand. And that's one reason why teenage relationships can be so dangerous. They fall in and out of "love" with someone new every couple of weeks. They seem to move on after the thrill is gone. Or they are tempted to go further and further in their physical relationship in order to maintain or intensify the thrill they felt in the beginning of the relationship. The emotions are going to be there; however, the emotions shouldn't be the ruling factor. Christians especially should not be governed by their emotions. But so often the emotions rule the teen instead of the other way around.
You see, love is a choice. Yes, there's chemistry and yes there's feelings and emotions. But somewhere along the line those in a marriage relationship made a decision. They made a choice (and then a vow) to love someone for the rest of their lives. Tell me, if falling in love is something you can't help, then why do you need to vow to maintain that love?
Love is not just the tingling feelings and the roses and picking out flowers and filling in a bridal registry. Love is a decision to be made even if the tingling stops and long after everything on the registry has broken or faded. When you enter into a marriage, you are making a decision and a vow to love that person as long as you live. That means every day of your life you wake up in the morning and make a decision to love the person you're waking up with. Somedays it's an unconscious decision. You wake up overwhelmed with love and grateful that this person has chosen to spend his life with you. Other days you wake up, trip over the shoes he left in the middle of the floor, see where he forgot to flush the toilet and then you consciously choose to love him anyway.
It's so important to follow the Lord's leading when it comes to choosing a mate. And it's one of the most important things you can teach your children. While they still think the opposite sex has "cooties", teach them that love is a choice. Teach them that they should not be ruled by their emotions. Teach them to ask the Lord for His guidance in every area of their lives. Then when it comes time to choose their mate, the wonderful tingling is just an added blessing--not the basis for a lifelong decision.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

May Cause Drowsiness - Or Internal Bleeding

When we first came back from Uganda I was amazed at the number of pharmaceutical commercials there were on television. Prescription medications were no longer just targeting doctors with salesmen and unlimited samples. They were now going to John Q. Public to sell their wares. On the one hand, I am a firm believer in taking responsibility for your own health. You ought to know what your options are. What works for one person may not work for another and you should have some say in your physical well-being.
But on the other hand, I can't believe how medicated the average American is. A couple of years ago I went in for a routine physical. The nurse asked what medications I was currently taking, and I told her I take ibuprofen occasionally if I have a headache. She didn't believe me. She must have asked four or five different ways if I was taking anything else. When the doctor came in, he looked at my chart and then asked me the same thing. Four or five different times. They simply could not grasp the fact that a woman in her late thirties (okay, it was more than a couple of years ago. It was five years to be exact) was not on any sort of medication.I find this amazing. Why would you want to be taking medications on a regular basis for the rest of your life?
Not only that, but based on the "side effects" of some of these medications that they're hawking endlessly, you'd have to be in pretty bad shape to want to take them. Watching these commercials would be hysterically funny if they weren't so frightening. A calm, pleasant voice talks about your symptoms and then touts the healing power of whatever they're selling. And then in a fast, read-through-the-fine-print voice they list possible side effects such as stomach ulcers.
Some commercials don't even tell you what the medication is supposed to cure. They just show pictures of happy people living full lives and then advise you to talk to your doctor to see if this medication is right for you. I wonder how many people suddenly decide they need that medication when they don't even know what it's for.
And then there's the commercial where people sit around discussing the medication in a "normal" conversation. They talk about how much the medication has done for them and then in the course of the give and take, they mention that several blood tests are necessary before starting the medication in order to insure that your internal organs can handle the havoc the medication will cause.
I think the commercials I find most amusing are the ones for medications that cure depression. They show a bunch of unhappy people staring off into space. These people are usually in their pajamas (I always found that to be a happy time, not a sad time) and looking utterly hopeless. Then they talk about how this medication will help them rejuvenate themselves and give them a new lease on life. And then they list the side effects. Side effects such as dizziness, sleeplessness, constipation, diarrhea, decrease in sexual function and possible thoughts of suicide. Wait a minute! Aren't most of these symptoms of depression anyway? So why take a medication that is--at best--going to have enough side effects to make you more depressed than you already were? Why OH WHY would you try to cure depression with medication that makes you contemplate suicide? This is a cure?
As for me, I think I'll try to see how long I can live my life without popping a bunch of pills. My quality of life is just fine, thank you very much. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go take my vitamins. And my ginseng for energy ... and my ginkgo balboa for memory ... and my red raspberry for ... well, you get the idea.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Forest-Blocking Trees Part 2

So here is part two of Terry's and my odyssey toward marriage. If you would like to start at part one, click here.

My first week at college I met Mark. Cute, blonde and 6'8". He fit all my pre-requisites, especially the height part. We ended up in the same carpool going to the same church. We both worked in Awana. His sister was my roommate. It was clearly meant to be. But there were a couple of problems. The first was, he had a girlfriend. Well, sorta. He had a serious girlfriend in high school, but she was a year behind him. They had kinda agreed to date other people when he went off to college while she was finishing her senior year of high school. But there was still a strong tie between them.

The other problem was a little more serious. I didn't know how to date. I didn't know how to attract a guy. And I sure didn't know how to flirt. I was from a very small private high school. There were two of us (both girls) in my graduating class. The oldest guy in school was my brother, and he was a sophomore. Since I didn't know any of the conventional ways to get a guy's attention, I fell back on the one talent I did have--sarcasm. (FYI it doesn't work as well as flirting.) Mark and I spent all our time zinging each other. In fact, we entertained our entire church carpool with our witty insults. We developed a relationship, but it wasn't quite the one I had envisioned.

I put forth an effort. Mark's sister usually sat with him at different events. Since she was my roommate, I usually sat with her. I found out later that quite a few people thought Mark and I were dating because we sat together so often. I think Mark just liked having a girl's attention without having to put forth any effort for anything. As we insulted each other, I did occasionally wonder how things might change if we did start dating. I would hope we would stop the insults. But if we did, what would we have left?

Second semester I decided to make some changes. I still kept up the insult battles with Mark. After all, negative attention was better than no attention, wasn't it? But I also decided I wasn't going to limit myself should anyone else ask me out. I had a few dates, but they were not necessarily guys who matched my criteria. I turned one guy down only to find out he got kicked out of school the following week for getting another girl pregnant. I was also asked out by Barry "the Fairy" and a beige sort of guy named Hunter. At this rate I'd be a sophomore before I even had a steady boyfriend. I was pretty discouraged, but then I started hearing about a new guy on campus. A guy who was asking questions about me.

Unable to See the Forest for the Trees is the continuing story of how Terry and I met, and it runs on the blog each Monday. To read part 3, click here. This post is part of a Meetings, Marriages, and Memories carnival at Musings of a Future Pastor’s Wife. For more stories of romance or to tell your own, go visit!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Fun Friday

In the interest of lighting up your week and making you smile all weekend, I compiled a list of things to do in an elevator. Have fun, and let me know if you actually do one of these!

Blow your nose and offer to show the contents of your kleenex to other passengers.

Grimace painfully while smacking your forehead and muttering: Shut up, all of you just shut UP!

Whistle the first seven notes of It's a Small World incessantly.

Crack open your briefcase or purse, and while peering inside ask: Got enough air in there?

Offer name tags to everyone getting on the elevator. Wear yours upside-down.

Stand silent and motionless in the corner, facing the wall, without getting off.

When arriving at your floor, grunt and strain to yank the doors open, then act embarrassed when they open by themselves.

Lean over to another passenger and whisper: Noogie patrol coming!

Greet everyone getting on the elevator with a warm handshake and ask them to call you Admiral.

On the highest floor, hold the door open and demand that it stay open until you hear the penny you dropped down the shaft go plink at the bottom.

Stare, grinning, at another passenger for a while, and then announce: I've got new socks on!

When at least 8 people have boarded, moan from the back: Oh, not now, blasted motion sickness!

Meow occasionally.

Bet the other passengers you can fit a quarter in your nose.

Frown and mutter gotta go, gotta go then sigh and say oops!

Show other passengers a wound and ask if it looks infected.

Sing Mary had a little lamb while continually pushing buttons.

Holler Chutes away! whenever the elevator descends.

Walk on with a cooler that says human head on the side.

Stare at another passenger for a while, then announce You're one of THEM! and move to the far corner of the elevator.

Burp, and then say mmmm...tasty!

Wear a puppet on your hand and talk to other passengers through it.

Start a sing-along.

When the elevator is silent, look around and ask is that your beeper?

Play the harmonica.

Shadow box.

Say Ding! at each floor.

Lean against the button panel.

Say I wonder what all these do and push the red buttons.

Listen to the elevator walls with a stethoscope.

Draw a little square on the floor with chalk and announce to the other passengers that this is your personal space.

Bring a chair along.

Take a bite of a sandwich and ask another passenger: Wanna see wha in muh mouf?

Blow spit bubbles.

Pull your gum out of your mouth in long strings.

Announce in a demonic voice: I must find a more suitable host body.

Carry a blanket and clutch it protectively.

Make explosion noises when anyone presses a button.

Stare at your thumb and say I think it's getting larger.

If anyone brushes against you, recoil and holler Bad touch!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Rest in Peace?

Two men died that day. One had lived twice as long as the other. The older one had accomplished much in life. The younger had barely started living. One was an icon. The other was barely known, even in his own hometown. Both followed in their family's footsteps. One had been married several times. He had children. The other hadn't experienced that much life yet. Both died before their parents did. One died alone. One was surrounded by friends. It took more than a week for either one to be buried. One died of causes that are not yet known. The other died instantly and everyone could see what took his life.

It's amazing really.

On June 25th, Michael Jackson died in his home. Some reports say he was alone, others say his doctor was with him. It is not yet known what caused his cardiac arrest, although it looks like drugs are a good possibility. Michael was fifty years old. He'd been married several times and had three children. He was in the family business of entertainment. He sold record numbers of recordings and videos and the whole world has mourned him. It was two weeks after his death before details were in place for his funeral and memorial service. And then the world sobbed as it said goodbye.

Brian Bradshaw also died on June 25th. Brian was a twenty-four year old young man from Steilacoom, Washington. Brian was a search and rescue volunteer, an altar boy and a camp counselor. He also followed in his family's footsteps. The only media coverage Brian's death got was from his home town.

Brian was something else as well. He was a Lieutenant. And he was kill in Afghanistan. Brian's mom was a retired army nurse, and his dad was a national guard helicopter pilot. Brian was described as having old-fashioned values. He believed that military service was patriotic and that actions counted more than talk. Brian died for his country. He died for freedom.

He died for Michael Jackson's freedom. You see, our military protect our freedoms every day. They protect this great country, where someone can rise to the top of the entertainment world, where they have the freedom to make as much money as they want to work at making. Where people have the freedom to devote themselves to something as temporal and fleeting as fame.

Brian died for Americans who devoted their time to mourning their fallen idol. Brian died so that we could be free to say that the most important thing in our life is mourning Michael Jackson.

It's really hard for me to wrap my head around the irony. Yes, I think the hoopla over Michael Jackson is too much. It's all out of proportion to the things in life that really count. Michael made a lot of money doing what he wanted to do. And yet, he possibly died trying to seek more relief and/or satisfaction from the easy access his status gave him to drugs that he shouldn't have been messing with.

Brian may not have been known or mourned by many. But I think in his twenty-four years, he accomplished more than Michael Jackson did. His death had meaning. More importantly, his life had meaning.

Can we get a little perspective here?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Case of the Missing Groceries

I'm sure it comes as no surprise to you to find that food quickly disappears in our house. With five growing boys, they're almost always eating. Their standard greeting when I walk into a room is, "What's to eat?" They've been known to break into the groceries on the way home from the grocery store.
But that's not the only time groceries disappear. See, I usually buy groceries for a week at a time. I have a menu planned out of what I'm fixing that week. In spite of that, more than once I've gone to the pantry or the fridge only to find I'm missing one of the key ingredients I need. There's no longer grated cheddar cheese in the fridge, or the tortillas I bought for tacos have disappeared. I know the food was there. I remember buying it. I remember bringing it home and putting it away. I'm pretty sure I know what happened to it, but no one seems to "remember" where it went.
Occasionally I will buy something and not be able to find it the next day. It's especially odd if it's something that the boys won't actually eat. Like dish soap. I'll look high and low for it, but it's simply not there. After questioning all the boys and looking in odd places--like under the bathroom sinks--I'll finally find it. No, not under the sink. In the van. Sometimes there's a bag or two that gets missed when everyone is helping to bring groceries into the house. That's not too bad unless it turns out to be something perishable (which has happened once or twice.) If it's not in the van, then it is in some weird spot. Or it ends up sitting in a bag on my bedroom floor. Apparently when we're putting things away, if it doesn't go in the kitchen it goes in my room. Never mind if it's something I don't use, it ends up on my floor.
The worse case of missing groceries I ever had was when the fruit disappeared. This happened within just the last month, and it's still a mystery. I bought three containers of beautiful fruit at Sam's Club. Now, if you know anything at all about price clubs, you know that their packages are huge. You can't just misplace them. I bought a container of red grapes, a container of blueberries and a container of strawberries. Also at Sam's, when you check out they pull the stuff off the counter and put it in the basket for you. It's a little hard to misplace something or leave it behind. Everything else I bought that day made it home without a problem. Even the huge bag of oranges made it home. But no one has seen the grapes or the berries since then. I know they're not in my fridge in the kitchen. I' even cleaned it out to make sure. No fruit. We have a second refrigerator in the garage. There's no fruit there either. It didn't end up in the freezer by accident. The fruit has simply disappeared.
I know the boys didn't eat it. No one could have eaten that much fruit and not paid a major price. It simply disappeared. And I'm pretty sure it wasn't left in the van. I think we would have smelled it by now. The fruit just disappeared.
Now when I'm trying to eat healthy, why does the fruit disappear? Why can't the ice cream disappear instead?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Yesterday I looked death in the face. I stood nose to nose with my own mortality. I contemplated the end of my life under solemn and grave circumstances.

Yesterday I signed my Last Will and Testament.

It's the responsible thing to do. And it's not actually the first time we've done this. But it has been a while since Terry and I last did our wills and some things have changed since then. Like, for instance, the number of our children. So it was time to make new wills. We actually started discussing this last month after a visit with a financial planner. We learned several important things during that visit. Such as the fact that we will never have enough money to retire and that we are worth very little presently. Neither of those facts were very surprising.

The financial planner also said he would strongly suggest we update our wills. He gave us forms to fill our with regard to our preferences and wishes and told us to send them back when they were done. Since we don't have that much stuff to dispose of you wouldn't think these things would take much decisions. But there were a few details to consider. Like the disposition of our underage children. I mean, we love them, but not everyone we know would want to take in four lively boys.

We also had the "durable" problem. You know, the durable power of attorney, the durable power of attorney for assets, the durable power of attorney for health care. The living will. It's so complicated. Who's going to take care of our stuff and who's going to take care of our kids and who's going to take care of us. Matthew's twenty, but that's still a lot to put on him. So we ended up putting the kids' guardians in charge of everything for the good of the kids. Matt gets the job if something happens to the guardians.

Matt had a few questions when we told him. Terry explained the durable power of attorney over healthcare and the living will as succinctly as possible. His basic explanation? "The longer you leave us plugged in, the more money it will cost." I was touched by the sentiment.

Our belongings were another problem. Not that we have tons of stuff, but some of it is special to the kids. The way things are set up, the guardians have control of everything for the purpose of taking care of the kids. Matt wasn't sure he liked that. After all, there are some things he didn't want to ever lose. Like his father's firearm collection. And the mounted deer heads on our wall. Important stuff. We finally convinced him that this was where trust came in. If we could trust the guardians with our kids, we could trust them to do what's best for all of them. We could trust them to respect our wishes and the feelings of our children when it came to using or selling our worldly goods. I did find it curious that Matthew wanted his dad's things, but didn't seem to need any reminder that I had ever inhabited the earth.

And so we spent almost an hour yesterday afternoon going through all the paperwork and signing our names in numerous places. The last time we signed that many papers we walked away with a house. This time we were just signing so people know what to do with the house once we're gone. It was a little depressing. But you know what? I've known for a long time that we weren't going to leave much materially. What's far more important to me is that we leave our children with a strong sense of character. That we equip them with the knowledge and talents they will need to serve the Lord with all their heart and soul and mind. If they live their lives for Him, that will be the best legacy we could ever leave behind us.

Even so, would it kill them to ask for one small item of mine to keep as a remembrance? It doesn't have to be a "girly" item. After all, I have firearms too.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Unable To See The Forest For The Trees

I went to college because I was supposed to. And because I was supposed to find a husband. Not that I was actually told that, but the implication was there. I was supposed to grow, learn, mature ... and get my MRS degree because that's what good Christian girls did. My only problem? I was rather shy. And awkward. And the times I came out of my shell I inevitably did it the wrong way or at the wrong time. But I was nothing if not a dutiful daughter, so I battled homesickness and fear of all things new and entered Bible college two weeks after turning eighteen. I haphazardly picked out my major and my first semester classes since I wasn't planning on being there a full four years anyway. I went to the same college as my two older sisters, but that was as far as I wanted to follow in their footsteps. They both chose teaching majors. No way. I wasn't particularly fond of children (yes, I see the irony now that I'm a mother of six!) and I didn't want to even pretend that I would be teaching a roomful of them for the rest of my life. I chose a secretarial major and a home economics minor. That way I could be well trained for the pastor I would eventually marry. He would finish his college education (I, of course, wouldn't need to finish mine once I found a husband) and then we would settle into a small church. It would grow over the years and I would do pastor's wife-ly things such as play the piano, do all my husband's secretarial work and cook amazing meals.

I've always been into fiction.

There was another area where I didn't want to follow in my sisters' footsteps. They took forever to find husbands. One of them went to college a whole three years before getting married. And she was older when she started college! She turned twenty-three before she got married. For my other sister, it was even worse. She actually finished college with no prospects in sight. She didn't get married until she was twenty-five. I had no desire to dawdle around like they did. I wasn't boy-crazy, but getting married was the next thing to do in the process of growing up. I saw no reason to take my time.

I even had a mental list of attributes that I was looking for in a mate. He had to be a Christian, of course. Called to full time Christian service and he had to be tall. Yep, that's what I was looking for in a life mate. See, I'm 5'7" and I like to wear heels. I wanted someone at least 6' tall so that no matter what kind of shoes I wore, my husband would be adequately taller than me. I tell you, I had depth.

So, armed with this list of qualifications, I headed off to college and started looking. And I found him the first week of school. A friend of my sister's introduced me to a freshman from her home church in Connecticut. I looked up. And up. And up. This guy was 6'8". And he was cute. I had found my soul mate. I couldn't wait until he realized it too.

To read part 2, click here.

This post is part of a Meetings, Marriages, and Memories carnival at Musings of a Future Pastor’s Wife. For more stories of romance or to tell your own, go visit!

Friday, July 3, 2009

True Patriotism

As everyone is gearing up for the holiday weekend, I want to ask you a question. How patriotic are you? What makes a true patriot?
This weekend there will a lot of flag-waving, fireworks and red, white and blue. Patriot songs will be song. Hotdogs will be eaten. Families will get together. That's all great stuff. And it is typical American celebrating. But are we patriots because we do these things?
I think that anyone that serves in the armed forces is a patriot. Fighting for your country is patriotic. Having a deep, abiding love for and pride in your country is patriotic.
All of us can love our country. Not all of us can serve in the armed forces. It's patriotic to help and support our troops. Sending care packages, praying for them, respecting and honoring them--that's patriotic.
But there are some other ways we can be patriotic as well. These ways may be less obvious, but they are just as important when it comes to being patriotic.
The first is to take part in our government. You don't have to run for office, but you should know who is running. You should know where they stand on the issues. And you should know what the issues are. You should vote every time you have the opportunity. but even that's not enough. You need to follow up with the issues. You need to write and call your Senators and Representatives to make sure they know your views and that they are making good on the promises that got them elected in the first place. This may seem like a daunting task. I would say to you that we get the kind of government we deserve. We don't elect officials to run the government. We elect them to represent us. But how can they if they don't know what we want? What we believe? This has always been our responsibility as citizens, but now it's never been easier to keep up with this. If you have Internet access (and if you're reading this blog, obviously you do) then you can research all the information you need to know. Start with this great resource. The Heritage Foundation is a conservative think tank. Their site is full of all sorts of research and information that informed citizens need.
In addition to being an active, informed citizen, there's another step you need to take as a patriot. You need to know our history. (Shame on you if your eyes glazed over when you read that word!) How can you know where you're going if you don't know where you came from? Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. This is true in so many ways, and I'll give you one very basic example. World War II happened, in part, because the rest of the world capitulated to Hitler. Hitler made demands and the world caved because they thought if they could just appease him enough, there would not be war. Only too late did they realize that Hitler would never be placated. What's worse, during all the time the world was giving in, Hitler was strengthening himself and his army into a formidable foe. By the time the war was inevitable, the rest of the world had made their enemy, Hitler, much stronger. And much harder to defeat.
How is this similar to today? The radical muslim population of the world is making demands. They are issuing threats. And instead of standing firm and telling them "NO!", the world seeks to appease them. Our leaders seem to believe that if we only give in to what they want (say, Palestine, for example) the radical terrorists will be happy and we can all live in peace. It didn't work with Hitler. But we are dooming ourselves to repeat history.
Not only that, but our President has recently openly declared that we are not a Christian nation. Truthfully, we're not anymore. But we were. This country was built on Biblical principals, no matter how much some people would like to deny that fact. If you want to know more about our beginnings (and you should!) here's another great place to find the truth. David Barton has done an incredible series on our country's beginnings. It's well done, incredibly interesting, and very informative. As an American, and as a patriot, you need to know this information.
In addition to knowing our history, you need to to teach it to your children. Don't rely on the schools (public or private) to do this. Teach them about our roots. Show them why it's important. Don't just tell them. Show them. If there's historical places to visit near you, your children need to see them. When we're gone, our children will have to take up the mantle of being concerned, involved citizens. The time is now to teach them why this is important.
There's one final area that makes a true patriot. If you believe in your country, if you love it and want what's best for it, you'll do your best to reach it. We were founded as a Christian nation, but today Christians, true Bible-believing Christians, are in the minority. Reach out to your fellow Americans and tell them about Jesus. If you're not comfortable sharing the Gospel, you can find some resources to help you. David Wood Ministries has a wonderful soul winning program called Operation Go. Go to their website and click on the church growth link to find their Operation Go program. If everyone who is a born again Christian would lead one American to the Lord, this country would become a Christian nation again in no time.
As you enjoy the fireworks and the family this weekend, purpose in your heart to be a true patriot.
Happy Fourth of July!

P.S. I'm sorry to be a day late posting this. Internet problems!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Grocery Store Commentary

I love Peanuts cartoons. Some of my favorites had to do with Snoopy and his incredible imagination. He was never "just" anything; he was always the "world famous" whatever he was pretending to be. There were a series of cartoons where he was the world famous grocery store clerk. He put on an apron, stood on top of his dog house and pretending to be a cashier, checking people out at the grocery store. As he pretended to move items along the checkout counter, he'd run through prices in his brain: "hotdogs, $1.99. Milk, $2.13 ..." Occasionally he'd stop and call out for a price check. He'd greet pretend customers as if he'd known them a long time. And once in a while, he'd comment on their purchases.
I was thinking about those old cartoons this week while I was at the grocery store. You know, your groceries do talk. What you have in your cart says something about who you are. I know this for a fact because people have commented to me on what my groceries are saying to them.
I've mentioned before that I have a large family. It's pretty rare that I leave Walmart with less than a full cart. Occasionally I will have an overflowing cart. I do my best to grocery shop once a week. We consume a lot of groceries. As I push my very full cart through the store I've had people comment that I must be feeding an army. (Almost.) Or that I'm stocking up. (Not as much as you'd think.) I've even had people ask me where I found an item that I have in my cart. I've directed more than one person through the store.
The funny thing is, I would never dream of looking in someone else's cart. That's kind of like staring into another woman's purse. She may be digging for something in her purse and stuff maybe sticking out the top, but I would never stare. It's too personal. So I'm trying to decide if people are crossing my personal line because of the amount of stuff in my cart or because I look like I wouldn't mind.
I almost always get comments from the people standing behind me in line. Everything from, "Wow! That's a lot of milk!" (We usually go through 4-6 gallons a week) to "How much do you spend on groceries?" Yes, I've actually had someone ask me that. (I didn't answer. None of her business.)
Even the cashiers get into the comment game. I don't mind the comments on what a good sale they're having on tissues right now. Or how much they love that particular cereal that I'm buying. But I don't want anything much more personal than that. Think about it. Would you want a running commentary on everything you've bought at the store? Especially when you have personal items up there. It's none of their business if I'm buying zit cream, pads or tampons.
The strangest thing is, no matter how personal their comments, if I take offense, I'm the one with the problem. I'm expected to stand there and smile and take it. Well, there's always ways to get around that. I can start commenting on whatever is in their basket. But that goes against my grain. So I think what I'm going to do is start buying a couple of Midol, Pamprin and other assorted medications of that type. The biggest bottles of medicine they have. Every. time. Anyone seeing that sitting on the counter should know better than to bother me with silly questions or comments on my grocery buying habits. It's almost as good as putting up a No Trespassing sign. Except slightly more subtle.
What do you think? Am I the only one this happens to? Have you got any other creative ways of solving the problem?

Tomorrow's Post: Patriotism is underrated.
Related Posts with Thumbnails