Rants, Musings, and Mental Meanderings of a former Conservative Christian Mother. Standing Strong against ignorance, preconceptions, labels and excessive housework. Celebrating original thought, religious freedom, parenthood, free enterprise and chocolate.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merry, uh, Holidays?

I have to admit sometimes I'm a little slow to notice things. When I am on a mission, focused on one task, I am not easily distracted. So, it took me a while to catch on to the whole "Merry Christmas" vs. "Happy Holidays" war while I was doing my Christmas shopping. At first, I just thought people thought I was hard-of-hearing. They would lean forward, give me a meaningful look and say "Mer-ry Christ-mas!" enunciating it like it was some kind of secret code. Or, I would say, "Merry Christmas" and get a smirk and a pointed "Happy Holidays" from an attitude-laden teenager. I was beginning to feel like I was back in junior high and a group of friends had formed a club without telling me, complete with secret passwords. From what I could gather, Merry Christmas was good, Happy Holidays was bad. And I could tell that, to the people who were "in the know," it was very important to give the right greeting, since you were also making a statement. Something like, "Merry Christmas" means "I love God" and "Happy Holidays" means "I don't like God." This seemed rather silly and trivial to me, but then I am never the type to jump on bandwagons. They are always smelly and crowded with people who have bland personalities and need to be told what to think. I certainly don't need to be told what to think, but I did decide to try to get to the bottom of this. I got the scoop by accident, when at a holiday gathering, (or should I say Christmas gathering, so you don't think I'm an atheist?) I mentioned that I was sick and tired of all the "Merry Christmas" vs. "Happy Holidays" business. Before I could elaborate, she began gushing, "Oh I know! I went into a store the other day, and the greeter said, Happy Holidays, and I told them I wasn't even going to shop there! I have been going out of my way to say Merry Christmas anytime I hear someone say Happy Holidays, just to prove a point. We can't let them take Christ out of Christmas!" It was one of those rare times where I was actually speechless. Not because I couldn't think of anything to say (never have that problem) but I could think of TOO much to say and I didn't want to start an argument.

However, here's a list of facts that ran through my mind:

Would you really stop shopping at a store because they say Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas, and do you really think this helps point the lost world to Christ? I mean, last time I checked, we were a free country and people were allowed to greet people however they choose. It's not like they are saying or doing anything offensive like flashing you or flipping you off. Not to mention, many companies have a lot more questionable practices than the specific wording of their greetings, and I don't see anyone caring about any of those.

Second, as far as taking CHRIST out of CHRISTmas, oh puh-leeeeease. When was Christ ever actually in Christmas? Do I need to remind you that it wasn't so very long ago that the winter solstice was a PAGAN celebration, honored by such religious figures as virgin-sacrificing druids? It was combined with a celebration of the birth of Christ by a pope in order to allow Christians to celebrate with their non-Christian friends without feeling guilty about it. A classic case of, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em." I hate to burst the bubble of a lot of holier than thou Christians, but Jesus was not born in the winter, the first candy cane had nothing to do with the shepherds hook, and the Christmas tree was not invented by Martin Luther (an entirely different figure than Martin Luther King, for you who are historically challenged) after seeing the stars shining through the fir trees to thank the Lord for showing him the proverbial light. These are all heart-warming stories, but they were invented to make Christians feel good about themselves. Now, that's not to say I believe it's wrong to celebrate Christmas. I love Christmas, but I take it for what it is. It was not originally a Christian holiday, so any references we see and hear to Christ and the Nativity, I take as a bonus. I love to hear the Christmas carols that give the salvation message, I love the attitude of goodwill that is promoted, I love to see all the different nativity scenes, and I love teaching my children the Nativity story and watching them act it out. But I still don't kid myself that this is some kind of religious institution. It is, after all, basically a societal compromise.

Third, is it a very Christian attitude to say or do anything to prove a point? Seriously, when you hiss "Merry Christmas" at the hapless cashier who has been instructed to say "Happy Holidays," are you really demonstrating the love of God?

The fact of the matter is this: Yes, I get frustrated when the world tries to scrub anything that has any kind of "religious" flavor to it in order to not offend the non-religious. Yes, I believe Christianity is picked on more than other religions, and yes this is not fair. But that all being said, GROW UP!!! America is far, far away from her Christian founding, and it's not going to change anytime soon. I don't need a contrived holiday to glorify the birth of the God and Savior I adore. I don't care if they call it a holiday tree instead of a Christmas tree - God made all the trees whether people choose to acknowledge Him or not. I read somewhere that if Christians worked as hard at keeping Christ-honoring symbols in their own lives, it wouldn't matter if they had a Nativity in the town square. There would be millions of them in the yards of Christian homes! We can get so caught up in proving a point that we lose the loving attitude that is supposed to truly define a Christian. Nowhere in the Bible are we commanded to celebrate the Birth of Christ, but we are commanded to spend our lives trying to reach a lost world who are drowning in a sea of sin, hopelessness, depression and despair, especially at this time of year. They don't need a so-called Christian giving them a snide "Merry Christmas," they need a caring person to offer to help them carry their bags, be compassionate with the harried store staff that is being run ragged, drop a few coins in the Salvation Army kettles, and overall treat people the way Christ would have us treat them. America is not going to be bullied back to her Christian roots, and in fact may never go back to her Christian roots. The people who do decide to become Christians, or to return to Christianity after leaving it, are going to do so because of the genuine people who were caring, kind and REAL. If Christians put as much effort into being exemplary in every other aspect of their lives and they do in jumping on the bandwagons of these created "causes" we would probably get a lot more done.

And from now on, I'm just going to wish everyone Happy Hanukkah and be done with it.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

How to have a financially stress-free holiday season!!

No, this is not a post yelling at people for spending too much, getting caught up in the commercial side of Christmas, being too busy to focus on the birth of Christ, or lecturing you to make all your gifts from scratch because homemade gifts are cheaper and more thoughtful. The facts are these: Yes, we all spend a lot, probably too much this time of year, but that's just the way it is. Yes, we do get too busy to focus on the birth of Christ, but call me cynical - The birth of Christ wasn't on December 25th anyway, and don't we get too busy to put Christ first in our lives at various points all year long?!?! I mean, is this really something confined only to December? And as for making all your gifts from scratch... if I did that, I'd really be stretching the limits of the saying, "It's the thought that counts." (I'm not a particularly creative person.) Sorry to be so blunt, but that's not what this post is about. It is, quite literally, just about the ca$h factor.

I mentioned to my hair stylist that my hubby and I do the majority of our Christmas shopping all in one day - the day affectionately nicknamed "Black Friday." Yep, the day after Thanksgiving I am one of those crazies in line somewhere at 4:00 a.m. clutching a strong coffee and my Christmas planner. (And yes, by all means, get a baby-sitter.) We spend the evening before planning our battle strategy - choosing which stores to go to first, depending on who has the hottest "Early Bird" specials. Our group has grown over the years, and now we drive in a caravan of two or three vehicles. (This is great for having people take turns standing in the often l-o-n-g lines.) Anyway, she told me, "Well, there's no way I could do that. I just don't have the money to shop all at once. I end up missing a lot of bargains because I have to wait for each paycheck and then rush out and shop." That's when I revealed our secret for financially stress-free Christmas shopping: our Holiday Club account. Go to your bank or credit union and see if they offer this great service. Our credit union takes a set amount out of our checking account all year and puts it into the "Holiday Club" savings account. (And ours is an interest bearing account, to sweeten the deal...) Even if it's only $10, you will have over $500 next Christmas. Do the math, and you'll see that $20 will net you $1,000 to spend next year! Who wouldn't love an extra $1,000 at Christmas?!?!! On November 1st, the money is automatically transferred from the holiday club to our savings account. (And then summarily dumped into my checking account to pay off my credit card charges...) We may over-spend a little bit sometimes, but for the most part we can start the New Year without the debt of a pre-Christmas shopping frenzy... and yet I still get all the fun of a pre-Christmas shopping frenzy. This is also the money I use to get us girls new holiday outfits, eat out when we are out shopping all day, or grab an overpriced drink at Starbucks without feeling guilty. I have heard so many people this year really struggling financially this Christmas, especially those of us lucky enough to be in the fine economy here in Michigan. One woman told me in tears, "I barely have money to make ends meet! How am I supposed to buy Christmas gifts?" Even a few dollars set aside all year would help relieve that burden. If you are the creative, crafty sort, you can use your saved money to make tasteful, inexpensive handmade gifts and stretch that holiday dollar even farther. (I am generally NOT the creative sort, unless I am duplicating something that someone else created, so I am better off bargain hunting.)

Don't procrastinate - get to your bank or credit union and set up this account!!!! Now is the time so you will have an entire year to save for next Christmas. And DON'T think, "Well, that's a great idea. I'll just set aside a few bucks on my own." Because, frankly, you won't. You'll either forget, misplace the money, or wait a few weeks and plan to "catch up" later... and then forget about it before April. Have the bank do your thinking for you and take it out before you even notice it. I have been preaching this to everyone who has cried to me about how difficult this holiday will be for them... so I figured I'd preach about it here, too! Hey, if it helps one other person have less stress next Christmas... it's worth it.

Now, if your problem is just that you spend spend spend like crazy at Christmas, you will have to take it a step farther and set up a budget. I use a Christmas planner, and it is a lifesaver. For those of you who itch at the thought of being organized, just use a regular old notebook. Write out a list of all your Christmas expenses, including your per person spending limit, holiday outfits/accessories, holiday cooking/baking ingredients to buy (Yummy! It's not Christmas here without piles of cookie, candy, and fudge!), Christmas cards, pictures, and postage, etc... plus a little extra for all the little "extras" that come up. Add it all up, then divide this total by 52. This will be the amount you need to save each week. Next year, you can do a little happy dance that you were so smart in thinking ahead!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Heart-breaking Story

There are so many tragedies wrapped up in this story! I could hardly take it all in when I read it.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Church and the Younger Generation

I came across an article citing a survey that states 70% of kids raised in church will "drop out" (their words, not mine) by the age of 23. The most frequently cited reasons for leaving came as no surprise to me:

"Church members are too judgemental"
"Church members are too hypocritical"
"I just don't relate with or connect to the people at church." (This is either in reference to the members or the pastor.)

Well, let me tell you after being raised in church since I was a baby, the first two answers are, regrettably, very true. There are a lot of hypocrites, and there are a lot of people who wear religion like some kind of badge so they can feel better about themselves and look down on others. I've dealt with these kind of people my whole life, and even if you are not a church-goer I can assure you they get on my nerves as badly as yours!!! So, why do I choose to raise my kids in church? Why do I continue to go in spite of all the stories I could tell about what "really goes on"? First of all, I have been very fortunate to have met up with some truly genuine Christians. I'm not talking about the people who feel they have to cram their views down everyone's throat (and in the process make some of their victims so bitter toward God they actually prevent them from finding God). I'm talking about people who are compassionate, loving, patient, and REAL. Their faith is real, their relationship with God is real, and they have a calm, contented air about them instead of that bizarre angry intensity that too many people mistake for religious zeal. Sadly, these types of Christians are rare gems, and in all the Christians I've known they are a very small majority. So, why don't I get discouraged with the larger group of fake, judgmental, arrogant, mean and critical group of so-called Christians? Simple. I'm not there for the people. My relationship with God is based on my PERSONAL experiences with Him, which are very real to me. (Can you tell I like to deal with reality? Ironic, since we're talking about matters of faith, but I digress...) Although I haven't always liked what He chooses for my life, I can honestly say, "God is no hypocrite!" God is the one constant in my life, and I separate Christians and their human flaws from God and His perfection. I do not expect perfection from someone simply because they claim to be a Christian, so since my faith is not in people, my faith is not shaken when people fall. Oh trust me, I get discouraged. I get mad. I get disgusted with things that go on. But none of that compares to the joy and peace I have in my faith and relationship with God. I couldn't possibly throw it all away because some people who claim to be Christians act like a pompous windbag or a devious fraud. You think you have some big scoop on someone who claimed to be a Christian, and yet they________________ ? Listen to me, honey, I could fill a big, fat juicy expose' book with all kinds of stories like that. It's not that I'm so great and spiritual that I am able to rise above this. Quite the contrary. God's faith is made perfect in my weakness. It is my very dependence on Him that causes me to cling to Him even harder when other Christians do things that are very un-Christlike. I believe the Bible is true. I believe Christ is the only way to Heaven after we die, and the only way to a fulfilled life before we die. I have chosen to spend my life getting to know more about the Lord and getting closer to Him, and doing all I can to make Him known to others through my life. And, frankly, I believe that I cannot do this without being actively involved in a local church so that I can be part of a greater outreach both in my local community and throughout the world through missions. After all, isn't that our whole purpose here? If we choose to worship God on our own terms instead of His, if we are honest, we find that in fact we are just cutting ourselves off from people so they can't hurt us... and in the process cutting ourselves off from being able to minister to others. Please don't think I look down on those who have chosen not to attend church. Everyone makes their own choices, and I am not responsible for your choices any more than you are responsible for mine. If your mind is made up, I'm not trying to judge you. This post is more to reach out to those who have been hurt by "Christians," who feel like Christianity is all just a big scam and not worth the effort, or who think living the Christian life is more trouble than it's worth. Please believe me. All Christians do not fit the negative stereotype. I'll admit, many of them do, some even unintentionally, but really the best advice I can give is: stop looking at Christians. They will disappoint you. Look at Christ, and all He has done. My sister and I were joking about this one day and she said, "People who have a bad experience in church say they will never go to church again, but if they have a bad experience in a restaurant do they say they'll never eat out again?" I'll admit, it takes a lot of effort to find a church that's a good "fit" for your family, and certainly no church is going to be perfect. But in the long run, it's worth the effort!

Monday, November 19, 2007

It's Time to GIVE!!!

This is the season we should really have our thoughts focused on giving. Hopefully, this goes beyond hitting the malls and racking up HUGE credit card balances purchasing more junk for people who don't need it. I'm talking about giving to those truly in need! My daughter absolutely loves when the Salvation Army bell ringers start their seasonal donation drive. For those of you who complain about the noise, avert your eyes and rush in quickly to avoid them - SHAME ON YOU!!! Grab a handful of change out of your car ashtray, let your kids learn to have a compassionate, charitable spirit, and for Pete's sake smile at the bell ringer and wish them a Merry Christmas. We were at Wal-mart last week, and Elianna asked if she could ring the bell. The lady handed it to her, and Elianna would run up to people and shake it at them like she was mugging them. (I think she broke a donation record for that three minutes!)

Other ideas for keeping our focus on the right kind of giving this season:

Go through your children's toys, and donate (or throw away, depending on their condition) at least 1/3 of them. You will get at least that much for Christmas anyway, so now is the time to get that playroom or toy area cleaned out. If it's out-of-date, broken, ignored, etc... don't hang on to it. Children are actually happier with fewer toys and an organized space than with overwhelming piles of toys stacked up everywhere. Keep it simple, and teach your child to be unselfish.

Grab a box or bag, label it "Donations," and leave it somewhere accessible. As you go about your daily routine, toss everything into it you can do without. Go through your closets and get rid of that outfit you will never fit into again, isn't the right color for you, never fit right anyway, or that you have worn too many times and has seen better days. Get rid of those extra things in your cupboards that take up room, even though you haven't used them for 4 years. You keep telling yourself, "But I just might need them!" Well, if you do, borrow one from someone else. Throw yours in the box to donate!! Again, after the holidays you will have more useless junk, so now is the time to purge. Take the box out to your vehicle, and next time you are out running errands drop it off at your favorite charity. Or, even easier, call Purple Heart or Salvation Army and they will drive to your house and pick it up for you! How much easier can they make it?!?! Don't forget to get an estimate of the value so you can write it off on your taxes. You have till the end of this year to claim your donation, so do it now!!

**Click here for a link that will give you a value estimate on your donations. Most people grossly underestimate the value of their donations, so make sure you get a fair estimate so you can pay a few dollars less at tax time.**

Get involved in one of those "sponsor a child's Christmas" programs. Many churches offer these, and you can either buy gifts for a specific child or for a children's group home. At our church, you can get a child's picture with their name, age, clothing sizes, and favorite color. These are children living in homeless shelters, and often they do not have families or families with the means to get them Christmas gifts. We are sponsoring a 6-year-old boy this year, and Elianna is so excited to go shopping and pick him out a new, warm winter coat, and some pajamas. We will wrap it up, put his name on it, and on Christmas while many spoiled children gripe and complain about not getting exactly what they want, that little boy will be grateful to have something warm (and new) to wear.

It is a scientifically proven fact: People who hoard things and have junk stashed all over are actually more selfish than people who are willing to let things go! This is ironic to me, since the people with stashes seem to have more to give. In fact, there is a higher depression rate among people who do not give to any charitable cause, and a low depression rate among people who give everything away! (I am trying to find the article I read about this - I'll post it if I find it.) So, keep your spirits up and GIVE GIVE GIVE stuff away this Christmas!! I promise you'll feel so good if you do.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Look out, here comes FLYLady!!!

Am I the only woman that ever worked full time (and then some) who looked at stay-at-home moms and wondered how clean and organized your house would be if you had ALL that free time? I could not understand why any mom who didn't work outside the home ever was stressed or crunched for time. I mean, what else do you have to do!?!?

Yeah, right. Once I actually became a stay-at-home mom, my perspective changed dramatically. (Isn't that the way it usually happens?) Now that my house was actually in use all day, it actually seemed to be getting worse, not better! My standards crept lower as the laundry piled higher, and my frustration mounted with every passing cobweb. I tried valiantly to find the balance between spending your whole day cleaning, thus creating a museum-like showplace of domestic harmony, or shoveling a path through the clutter and spending the entire day splashing in finger paint and watching DVDs of Little Bear with my girls. I mean, is it morally wrong that those tasty crunchy treats my kids are munching on for their mid-morning snack are actually dried up pasta shells from yesterday's lunch that they scratched off the floor? There are starving kids in some faraway continent that would be grateful for our shriveled peas and brown apple slices. Well, all of that is changing now - I have found a new website that has helped me to get organized and stay on top of my housework. I am really loving this website!! You would not believe all I am getting done!!! Even the top of my fridge is shiny and clean. Granted, I am picking and choosing to some extent, but overall this is a GREAT program. You all know how I DETEST housework, but I detest clutter even more. So I was ending up very conflicted and generally agitated about my house. This system really works - Check it out!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Support Sears, Support our troops!

I am copying an e-mail I received, and everything italicized is from the e-mail, not my own words.. From what I have been able to research, this is true. If you know anything otherwise, please let me know!!!

I know I needed this reminder since Sears isn't always my first choice. Amazing when you think of how long the war has lasted and they haven't withdrawn from their commitment. Could we each buy at least one thing at Sears this year? How does Sears treat its employees who are called up for military duty? By law, they are required to hold their jobs open and available, but nothing more. Usually, people take a big pay cut and lose benefits as a result of being called up. Sears is voluntarily paying the difference in salaries and maintaining all benefits, including medical insurance and bonus programs, for all called up reservist employees for up to two years. I submit that Sears is an exemplary corporate citizen and should be recognized for its contribution. I suggest we all shop at Sears, and be sure to find a manager to tell them why we are there so the company gets the positive reinforcement it well deserves. Pass it on.

Decided to check this before I sent it forward. So I sent the following e-mail to the Sears Customer Service Department:

I received this e-mail and I would like to know if it is true. If it is, the Internet may have just become one very good source of advertisement for your company. I know I would go out of my way to buy products from Sears instead of another store for a like item, even if it's cheaper at that store.

This is their answer to my e-mail:

Dear Customer:Thank you for contacting Sears.The information is factual. We appreciate your positive feedback.Sears regards service to our country as one of greatest sacrifices our young men and women can make. We are happy to do our part to lessen the burden they bear at this time.
Bill Thorn
Sears Customer Care
1-800-349 -4358

Please pass this on to all your friends. Sears needs to be recognized for this outstanding contribution and we need to show them as Americans, we do appreciate what they are doing for our military!!!

It's Verified ! By Snopes.com at: http://www.snopes.com/politics/military/sears.asp
(shows the entire article)

Monday, October 8, 2007

Men Can Scrapbook, too!!

For all you scrapbookers and/or greeting card makers... Did you ever wish your man would get involved in your creations with you? Yeah, me neither. But here is a great tutorial video by a man, for men who want to make a greeting card for their sweetheart.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Family Team

Our speaker at MOPS this week was Melissa Robertson, and I was just so encouraged and inspired by her. She is one of those sweet women that makes you feel instantly as though you've known her for years. As a home-schooling mother of five, she definitely has her hands full! But she knows how to roll with the punches, pick her battles, and most importantly keep God and His principles first in her life. I really enjoyed her topic, and she gave me permission to share it here with you. I am writing this based on the notes I took, so it is not what she said verbatim. It's a re-telling, not a transcript! ;0) Hope you are as blessed as I was.

The Family Team
Here are some tips to help your family work together as a team. Mrs. Robertson used the analogy of a sports team to represent how a family can defeat opposition and become victorious.

1. Identify your true opponent.
It's always embarrassing when you score a point for your opponent, yet that is exactly what we do as a family when we attack each other. As frustrated as we may get with our children or spouse, we must realize that life should not be a daily battle with them! We must recognize each other's strengths and weaknesses, and learn how to work with them. Don't try to mold them into who you WANT them to be, but be willing to work with each other as you all strive to be what GOD wants you to be.
Your opponent is not other Christians. Women especially have the tendency to feel competitive with other moms, and you try to out-do each other in various areas. Who's the better cook? Who has the higher dress standards? Who has the nicest/cleanest home? Whose children are the smartest or most popular? Again, fighting other families simply scores points for our true opponent and weakens our team. Let your children hear you praise others instead of bragging or criticizing, and this will instill a sweet, humble spirit in your own child. Try to exhort and encourage other moms instead of competing with them. Overall, remember that the Devil is the true enemy of our families, and he is the one we want to score against.

2. Follow the right playbook.
A Christian family must acknowledge the Bible as the ultimate and final authority. Beware of adding or subtracting from this, as this will be a stumbling block to your children and may in fact make them more likely to rebel. Define your family with Biblical principles, not society's ideals. Seek out Bible-based resources such as devotional helps. (Mrs. Robertson recommends "Our 24 Family Ways" by Clay Clarkson. It is a devotional guide for the family, and even has coloring pages that illustrate the different concepts for the younger children.) Reading the Bible can be tedious and overwhelming for children, so put the effort into finding materials that will bring God's Word to their level of understanding. The better they understand the rules of the game, the better they will be able to play. Not to mention, making devotions fun for them will make them more likely to stick with it as they get older and into adulthood. Also, keep the basic rules of the house simple, and make sure you have Bible to back up these rules (even if only in principle).

3. Know your position and play it as well as you can.
Dad is the coach, and Mom is the captain. Dad makes the plays and does the research, and Mom makes it all happen in day-to-day life. It goes without saying that Mom has lots of input into Dad's decisions, but beware of trying to have two coaches! Assign your kids duties, and make them stay faithful even when the novelty wears off. Your child will not be productive at first, and in fact it will be easier for you NOT to invest the time in teaching them. (How many times have I been tempted to push her aside and say "Oh never mind! Let me do it myself!") In the long run, though, you do your child a terrible disservice by catering to him/her and not teaching him valuable skills. Instill a Godly work ethic early on, and this will build the right kind of self-esteem in your child, based on something he/she can actually accomplish. Give them something to do, make them learn to do it well, and then they will have something to be legitimately proud of. Try to make it a point to work alongside your child. A child will feel resentful and overwhelmed of you pile duties on him then kick back and read a book. Working together will actually build a love for work in them, since they will cherish the time spent with you. There are exceptions and use some common sense here, but a good general rule is "When you are working, your child is working. Rest and play together." It may be an inconvenience at first, but taking the time and effort to help your child develop skills and use talents will pay off for both of you. You will gain valuable help as their skills improve, and they will gain confidence as they see that they are able to make meaningful contributions.

4. Build Team Spirit
Take time to practice together as much as possible. The more time a team spends together, the better they know each other and the better they will play together. Make the time to have a regular "family night," and take the time to have meaningful conversations with your children throughout the day. Capitalize on "teachable moments," and remember that your team will all outgrow your league soon enough. Then there will be plenty of time to clean up the arena! ;0) Attend church regularly, since this is where your team will study and learn the "playbook" and continue to grow to be better "team players." Network with other Christian families, since they will become your team's cheerleaders, giving you the boost you need when your team gets in a slump. (And we moms know it's no fun being in a losing streak!) When choosing a ministry within your local church, make sure it is not something that your children will have to compete with for your attention. Make it something that you all can benefit from and serve in together, even if in different capacities. You will win more games if you play together as a team as opposed to every member off helping other teams and neglecting their own.

5. Evaluate your definition of victory.
What truly defines a victorious team? What makes a family a real success in God's eyes? Society will tell you this is based on academic achievements, wealth, popularity, or visible talents. Some families are just happy if their children acknowledge Christianity, maybe say a prayer and call themselves "saved." The Bible, however, defines a successful family team as one that produces not only "good" kids, but truly Godly kids. Children who go on to complete the work began in their lives, giving God complete control over their lives, giving the Bible complete authority in their lives, and allowing God to use them in whatever way He has planned for them. Producing a team that brings glory to its "Owner and Creator" is something we as moms especially will spend the majority of our lives striving for, but we find our strength and inspiration every time we are able to score a point against our opponent and see our children slowly come not only to a realization of Christ, but develop a very real and personal relationship with Him.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

It's Business Time

*This video has a more mature theme, just to warn you. It is not appropriate for young viewers.*

I hope I don't offend you with this video, and I am trying to give fair warning. Although I think it is tasteful, it is about the topic of sex so it is only for my married readers! ;0) I have to admit, when I watched this video at Jess's blog, and I laughed so hard I cried. The funniest parts are the ones that are (gasp) true! (Particularly wearing the ugly baggy T-shirt and the tripping over the jeans. Ahem, had both of those happen!) Anyway, I hope you enjoy this as much as I did... and may we all aspire to never let our love life sink to this level!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Senator Sues God

It's always good to see our tax dollars hard at work... Click the link to watch the video:

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Terror in the Skies

I copied this article, so the links may not work. Sorry! If you'd like to sign the petition mentioned, just type the address directly into your browser. I have signed the petition and urge as many of you as possible to do so. The more awareness that is brought to this issue the better.

Biblical perspectives on contemporary cinema
Friday, September 07, 2007

Terror in the Skies!

Imagine this: You and your family—including your wide-eyed preschoolers—are strapped into seats. You're not allowed to get up and move. You're not allowed to leave the room. You're stuck, and you have no choice about what's soon to come your way.A screen appears right before your eyes. Before long, you—and your wide-eyed preschoolers—see a man shoot his wife in the face, then drag her body from a pool of blood. Or you see a 12-year-old boy crushed against a fence by a car. Or a teenager zipping up her jeans after having sex.And there's absolutely nothing you can do about it. You're literally a captive audience.Sounds like something out of a scary movie, doesn't it? Unfortunately, it happens every day—at about 30,000 feet.Commercial airlines regularly show R-rated films and other mature programming, some of it only barely edited from its original form. Sure, you can refuse to wear the headphones, but the images are still there, projected on all those nearby screens for you—and your wide-eyed preschoolers—to see.Cover their eyes? Ha. Ever traveled with a squirrelly, inquisitive 5-year-old? Good luck.The New York Times recently reported on this issue in a must-read story that should get any reasonable-thinking person upset—especially when you read such comments as this one from Eric Kleiman, a spokesman for Continental Airlines: "Parents have to be responsible for the actions of their kids—whether they shouldn't look at the screen or look away." What a dumb statement; I'd bet the clueless Kleiman doesn't have any kids. Kleiman further put his foot in his mouth by saying that airline entertainment is just keeping pace with what's happening on TV and in movie theaters: "Our approach is consistent with where society is going with this."Uhh, that's Dumb Remark Number Two from Kleiman. We have choices with TV and movies: With the former, we can change the channel, turn it off, or send the kids into another room; and with the latter, we can leave the kids at home, or not to go at all.Last time I checked, parents didn't have such choices while strapped in their seats in a long narrow tube zooming along at 30,000 feet. I suggest Mr. Kleiman should zip it.One couple said they spent two hours on a recent flight trying to distract their 6-year-old son from seeing scenes from Shooter, which depicts multiple gory killings. The sounds of gunshots from nearby headphones alerted the kid to look up at just the "wrong" moments. Anecdotal evidence suggests that airlines are showing more and more R-rated and graphic fare. Delta started showing R movies in December, while United and US Airways are showing R movies more frequently than ever. Timothy Winter, president of the Parents Television Council, said, "You don't have to have 'Leave It to Beaver' on, but for Pete's sake, you don't have to have Eva Longoria seducing the high school kid on the dining room table, either."Are you ticked off yet? Me too. So I went online and signed a petition at KidSafeFilms.org, which is gathering support for restrictions on airline films. Jesse Kalisher, who founded the site, is beginning to lobby federal legislators to act.Go, Jesse, go. With that story setting the stage, three new reviews this week, including a couple you'll certainly want to keep the kids far away from. 3:10 to Yuma, starring the terrific Christian Bale and Russell Crowe, is a well-done remake of a 1957 classic Western, but it can get pretty violent. Still, it's loaded with discussion fodder about right and wrong, and might be fitting for older, mature teens. That certainly can't be said for Shoot 'Em Up, with two more great actors, Clive Owen and Paul Giamatti, whose characters are pure scum in this non-stop exhibition of vulgarity and bad taste.But you can take the whole family to see In the Shadow of the Moon—that is, if it's playing in your town. It's in limited release right now, but we hope it'll go wider. Our first four-star review in a while, the documentary is an enthralling look at the Apollo missions to the moon—and the bravery and resourcefulness that got us there.Now that's one flight we can highly recommend—even with wide-eyed preschoolers.

See you at the movies,
Mark MoringOnline Editor/Music & Film

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Sunday, September 9, 2007

Dealing with Discouragement

I have heard it said that the greatest tool the Devil has against someone is discouragement, but I take it a step further. I believe it is the isolation that comes with discouragement. Have you ever noticed that when something (or someone) has really gotten you down, if there are people around you to help you out of your slump, you are able to shake it off much quicker. However, when you start to feel isolated, what may not have been a very big issue to begin with can grow and grow until you have some heavy-duty depression setting in.

So, what causes this isolation? There are many different reasons for it, but I had one older woman tell me she believed one of the greatest factors was the fear of letting people know you were discouraged. Many of us are so afraid that if anyone finds out we are dealing with discouragement, they will think it is because we are not spiritual, because we aren't good wives, mothers, teachers, etc..., because we are in some kind of sin, because we're too weak, stupid (fill in the other self-degrading adjective here) to handle our lives, the list goes on. And the really sad part is, sometimes it's true that there are people who react that way! They see someone who is discouraged and think, "Well, it's their own fault, since they did ______." I was talking to one woman who is in her 50's, and I was telling her how I felt bad for someone who was really struggling with discouragement. She just rolled her eyes and said, "You know, there are some people who just like to be mad and bitter all the time. You can't feel sorry for them or try to help them, since they really just enjoy being that way." Wow, now that's a loving, compassionate attitude for you. Now, I will admit there are some people who just revel in being a victim, but for the most part people do NOT enjoy being unhappy. (Not to mention, it is not our job to decide that someone "deserves to be" or "wants to be" depressed.) I was really taken aback by her attitude, and I wondered how many other people think this way! It is easy to see why some people hide their discouragement and try to deal with it on their own, afraid of what people will think of them if they confide that they are struggling. This is really sad.

My mom had a friend (who was battling cancer at the time) talk to her about dealing with discouragement, and every other sentence she kept giving the disclaimer, "I mean, I DO trust God, it's just that..." It was as if she was afraid that by confessing her emotional struggles, people would assume she wasn't trusting God. Well, I have news for you, if not liking your situation made you not right with God, then Jesus did wrong in the Garden of Gethsemane when He prayed to God, "Let this cup pass from me." Guess what! Jesus was not looking forward to being crucified!!!! In fact, He felt emotions about it to an extent we will never comprehend, sweating drops of blood as He prayed, and He was not in sin. Job cursed the day he was born, and if you read the book of Job you will see (in very poetic language) just how strongly Job felt about his situation. Later we read, "In all this, Job sinned not..." Job was very vocal about his feelings when all he had was wiped out and all his children were killed! He didn't just bite the bullet, smile piously, say, "Well, I'm just trusting the Lord" and go floating on his way. He was very open about his feelings. What am I getting at? Don't be afraid to feel things. Don't feel guilty when you feel overwhelmed. Don't be afraid to cry out to God that you are not happy with His plan in your life sometimes. I am not talking about defiance, I am talking about crying out to your Heavenly Father saying, "This hurts too bad! I don't think I can handle this!!" The most precious moments I have had communing with God have been in times when my heart was broken, and I just told God exactly what I feeling. My favorite verse when I am feeling down is, "The Lord is nigh unto them that of a broken heart." We can ask God "Why?" anytime, as long as we are willing to accept the answer. These feelings of sadness, despair, being overwhelmed, feeling hopeless, feeling guilty, frustration... all are not sin in themselves. It's all in how you handle it. If you let this discouragement grow into rebellion and bitterness, now you have a problem. Nip it in the bud, so to speak. These are some little tips that help me to fight discouragement:

If you are feeling down, don't be ashamed of it. You're not doing anything wrong by feeling this way. Once you can accept that these feelings are okay, you will be better able to deal with it.

Find a friend or family member you can confide in... the sooner the better!!! It's especially nice to have someone you can vent to that won't take it personally or make it worse. The longer you let something go, the worse it gets. Snuff out those little issues quickly.

Work on your relationship with God. Make your peace with His will in your life. If He has revealed a sin in your life that you just aren't willing to take care of, true peace is going to elude you until you deal with it. Remember, God is the only One who will never let you down, and it sounds corny and cliche' but it's true: He only wants the best for your life. You may not always like what He has in store for your life, and that's okay. Just don't let anger or bitterness at God for the way He has directed your life build up to the point where there is a wall between you. Blocking God out of your life is a very dangerous decision, and I can guarantee that whatever the reason you are pushing Him away, it's not worth it. It's a plain and proven fact : You need God in your life.

Realize you are worth salvaging. When you feel down, it's easy to think that no one cares about you, no one needs you, and it really doesn't matter if you can shake this or not. Every human being in every situation is needed by someone and has a Divine purpose. Never forget that.

Make sure it's not a physical problem. Persistent, recurring depression lasting longer than four weeks at a time may be a problem requiring a doctor's advice. Don't try to be a hero. If you had diabetes, you wouldn't feel weak by taking insulin! Some of the most damaged lives I've seen are people who had medical problems and were told it was just a "sin problem" or believed it was a weakness of some kind. If you need help, take the initiative and get it. You're worth it!!!

Recognize that ups and downs are normal. You will have days when you feel on top of the world... and days when you wish you could just stay in bed and eat chocolate. God created everything to have cycles; nothing ever is exactly the same all the time. So for goodness' sake, don't expect your emotions to be.

Work on personal relationships. Take time out of your day to blog, e-mail, make a phone call, mail a card... whatever your communication preference. Just stay connected. The more you withdraw into yourself, the more susceptible to isolation you will become. I am the type that has to remind myself to talk to people. (I can be a bit of a hermit.) But, it's worth the effort. One way to tell if you are doing good with your inter-personal relationships is by having a good "mix" of contacts. There should be a bit of each: family, old friends and new friends.

Reevaluate your priorities. Are you discouraged because you feel overwhelmed? Like you just can't keep up no matter how hard you try? Take a step back and realize if you made the people you care about feel loved today, it doesn't matter if the laundry didn't get folded. Sometimes we are discouraged because we are looking for the wrong things to make us feel like we accomplished something. (Especially as mothers! We can sometimes feel like we run around all day just to break even, let alone accomplish anything!!!) Realize that even the little things you do matter, and only worry about things that will make a difference in 20 years. This doesn't mean totally neglecting housework, though, since dishes sitting in the sink for 20 years will be pretty gross... (Sorry, couldn't help it.)

Find out what makes you feel good - and DO IT. (Within reason, if you are prone to overdoing things... Having a bit of ice cream is okay. Eating the whole carton is not.) Use common sense here, ladies. ;0) I don't mean trying to elope with some hunk or blowing up someone's car when they make you mad. I am talking about something that is not immoral or illegal! Write down a list of your favorite simple pleasures, and when you get in a slump pull it out and indulge yourself. Again, if you catch it soon enough, you'd be surprised how much easier it is to shake off those blues.

Lastly, if you are not struggling with discouragement, reach out to someone who might be. Have compassion and remember, people need love the most when they deserve it the least. A person who is discouraged can be kind of cranky and annoying to be around, but sow that seed of kindness and it may grow into a friendship that you just might need somewhere down the road.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Too "hot" to fly?

Check out this link:

Mini skirt gets grounded

It cracks me up how they trot out a feminist to comment on this! Oh, that will be a really objective opinion, coming from someone who thinks all men are pigs anyway. Feminism teaches that a woman should be allowed to walk around in whatever attire she wants, and it's everyone else's fault if they can't handle it. Sorry, call me old-fashioned, but if it's not for sale, Don't Advertise. And if you choose to flaunt it, don't complain when you get a reaction you don't like. It's not up to the rest of the world to make you feel comfortable with however you choose to present yourself, it's up to you as a decent human being to care about following basic societal norms. Good grief, it's not like society's standards are that high anymore anyway!
Personally, I am glad the airline gave her a lecture on her revealing clothes and asked her to "adjust" things a bit before allowing her back on the flight. She says it was embarrassing, but a Hooter's waitress flashing that much skin obviously has a compromised sense of shame. I would like to know if my husband was flying somewhere, he wouldn't have to sit next to someone dressed like that. Many guys would probably enjoy it, but really, girls, let's have a little more more self-respect and class, shall we?! When my dad worked for Northwest Airlines, we weren't allowed to fly if we were wearing denim or if we weren't wearing socks. Failing to comply with the dress code could mean my dad getting his flight privileges revoked. To take it a step further, when my dad flew as a child, he had to wear a suit!

(The only thing I wish the airlines would do differently is be as strict with potential terrorists as they were with a sleazily dressed college student.)

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Miss Teen USA

I know you probably have all seen this, but I was just blown away by this!!! If my daughter ends up this ditzy... Oh well, at least she sure is purty!

I didn't have much time to comment when I posted this initially, but now that I have a moment...
*getting out my soapbox*
*climbing onto my soapbox*

I am truly hoping for the day when beauty pageants go the way of the gladiators and other spectator sports that demean the value of human beings. I know, I know, criticizing beauty pageants is something only plain or ugly people do, but I personally think it is offensive the way they ACT like they are interested in the contestants' thoughts, dreams, and ambitions, then have them parade around in bathing suits. Come on, surely we can find something else to celebrate in these young women other than great legs or being, ahem, well-endowed. How does any self-respecting woman justify parading herself like a hunk of meat in a butcher shop? Oh, I'm all for being attractive and classy, and there are definitely those who are more attractive than others... I just hope my daughters learns to value a sharp mind, a kind heart, and a sweet spirit over looking good while strutting in front of a bunch of ogling men. (Nothing against the men implied in that statement! You put a brownie sundae in front of me, I'd drool, too.)

I heard the contestant in the video above in an interview later, and I will grant that she was willing to laugh at herself. (Sh also gave the answer she was swinging at wildly, and it was much better than the original.) We all have our ditzy moments, but may I point out that had she not been parading herself on one of those women-degrading, flesh-baring, intellectually-challenged shows to begin with, the world would not have seen (and so thoroughly enjoyed) hers.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Great Military Debate

... or at least one of many. I have edited this post to add a great quote and an EXCELLENT article I came across. To see the article now (if you've already read this post) click here, or click on the link by the mention of Charlie Rangel wanting to reinstate the draft.

I had a conversation with one of the typical anti-war types the other day. You know, the whole "This war is all about profit for Halliburton" and "Only dumb poor kids with no other future are recruited" and "No one in government has family in the military, they just send poor black kids to die for their hopeless causes" and "Our government hates our military - they are just numbers to them, not people" routine. I have given these arguments some thought, and - Surprise! Now I'm going to give my opinion. That's the fun of a blog. In person you have to bite your tongue and be polite, but on my blog I can speak my mind. Hey, it's a free cyberspace, you don't have to read it.

"This war is all about profit for Halliburton."

This one makes me laugh, because I have realized that mentioning the war without saying the word "Halliburton" is impossible for a liberal. It jumps out, like a sneeze or a cough. The liberal will be on a wonderful rant on how they just know Bush sent Hurricane Katrina to kill all the poor black people in New Orleans, and "Halliburton" will blurt out before they even know it's coming. It doesn't even have to be applicable to the argument. Anyway, I guess I just assume that if the government wanted to throw some shady profits to a certain company, like, Halliburton for example, they could have found a much simpler and easier way to do it than taking an entire country to war. Washington is full of politicians on both side of the aisle that are there to further their agendas and make their friends rich. They do it well, and they do it often. They don't have to take America to war to do it. My guess is... there was a little more to their decision.

"The government doesn't send their own kids, they recruit poor black kids with no other future to be their cannon fodder."

Well, it sounds good, but unfortunately the facts speak quite differently. It is NOT only poor black kids that join the military. If there seems to be a large number of children from middle to lower income families - that's because they are the largest group in America! And, since I have many friends and family members in the military, including my own brother who will be leaving in a few weeks, I actually find it offensive to insinuate that the military is comprised of a bunch of losers that had nothing better to do with their life. They were sitting around a school playground drooling when a recruiter came and offered them the world. Being ignorant and having no concept of what they were doing, they signed up! WRONG. I know this is a difficult concept for many liberals to grasp, but some people actually still think the military is an honorable profession! They are joining to make something of themselves, to pursue a dream, and to accomplish something they can be proud of. Not because they had no other option in life. My brother is proud to fight for his country, and being an intelligent and motivated young man there are many things he could have done with his life. HE CHOSE THE MILITARY, and I dare anyone to say it to my face that he got talked into it because he couldn't cut it for anything else. I remember the push to reinstate the draft by a certain Democrat congressman (Charles Rangel D-N.Y.) who was complaining about this very thing. The draft was shot down, and the facts were made clear. We have an ALL VOLUNTEER army, and it just so happens to be the greatest military in the world.

Edited to add this quote I came across by Edward Bernard:

Then there is the military. Both in war and in peace, high-status Americans think that volunteer soldiers have no brains and no education. The truth is otherwise. Many U.S. officers have master's degrees and Ph.D.s., and more than a few NCOs and enlisted men have bachelor's degrees, which they came into the service with or earned while in the military. In U.S. Special Forces, composed of sergeants and officers, being comfortable in at least two foreign languages and foreign cultures is a sine qua non.

"Our government hates the military - they aren't people to them, just numbers."

This argument has an element of truth to it, although I don't believe the government as a whole hates its military. I have a hard time explaining this, and I hope I am not misunderstood. From a logical standpoint, the government cannot put the human interest of the army personnel ahead of the country's best interest. By that I mean, sending any person into harm's way (to war, for example) is putting the country's interest first, and the individual human interest second. All commanders know that, though they may love their soldiers fiercely, they have to be willing to send them on missions knowing some or many may not return. If all military decisions were made putting the comfort and safety of the military AHEAD of the mission, we would never achieve victory. The emotional support of the military men and women needs to come from us at home!!!! We need to be writing them letters/e-mails, sending them care packages, doing all we can to show them we support them and what they are doing. Now, this administration has made some decisions that I believe have slapped the military and veterans in the face. I am not going to be naive and say that they have always been 100% supportive and always done the right thing. I am simply pointing out that the government is going to put the country's best interest first, and the military serves the country. They aren't going to be buddies. In reality, the soldier is just government property. So, if you think that they need to be treated better - get out there and do something about it!!! And if it's something beyond your control (a policy decision, a benefit reduction, a lengthened deployment) then let your voice be heard! Write your elected officials, raise a ruckus. This is a democracy, after all. We're not as powerless as you think.

Overall, I am tired of those who are always AGAINST everything, but never FOR anything. They hate Bush, but who do they love? They hate the government, but they don't even vote or get involved in supporting any cause. They are against the war so they bash the military, but what causes DO they support? What actually IS worth dying for to them? Living to hate is such a pointless, dissatisfying existence. Live to accomplish things, and make the best of any situation. Even if you were against going to war, we are there now. Now we need to support the men and women fighting this war and shut the heck up about Halliburton.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A Contempt For Things Broken

Every once in a while, an illustration that the pastor uses will just really hit me. While we were up north this past weekend, the pastor was saying that people have, by nature, a contempt for things broken. He told us about a rubber mallet he bought, used once, and SNAP! Off broke the handle. He sawed it off, shaved it down, and used the handle to fix a hammer. While using the hammer, a knot in the wood of the handle came loose and caused the hammer to be lopsided. He said you would swing it, and it would just flail around wildly. By now he was so frustrated he went to his table saw and proceeded to saw the handle into pieces! He said he was just so fed up with that handle, that he destroyed it beyond the point of any usefulness. He then pointed out that, although we laugh at that story, many of us act exactly that way with the broken people we come across in our lives. How many of us shrink away from a drug user, roll our eyes in disgust at a teenager aborting her second baby in two years, write off an errant child who makes a series of stupid decisions, or gossip about a woman whose marriage falls apart due to unfaithfulness. Why is it we have such a contempt and disgust for broken lives? The Bible says, "A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench." More plainly, God doesn't kick you when you're down. Christians, are we so wrapped up in our own "righteousness" that we forget that our whole purpose here on earth is to reach out to others? Do we look at those still ensnared in sin with disgust? If so, shame on you. It is only by the grace of God that you and I are not in their shoes. If we were truly aware of how much of God's grace is involved in making us who we are, we would be so overcome with humility and gratitude to the Lord that there would be no room for the pious pride that seems to be the lifeblood of so many so-called Christians. I know so many Christians who have in fact been a stumbling block to their family and friends because, rather than reaching out to them and seeking to win them, they had to make sure everyone knew how disgusted they were with their "wicked ways." I know many will immediately pipe up with, "But we can't condone their sin!" To be honest, that answer is just a lazy way out. There are many ways we can reach out to the hurting and broken without enabling their lifestyle. I know I have made the personal commitment to try to be aware of this in my own life. It is not our call when someone has "thrown their life away." As long as they are living, no matter how bad it gets, it is our responsibility to fight to the end, even if all we can do is pray. When we stand before the Lord, we will give an account of those whom we had the chance to reach and are lost because we thought we did the spiritual thing by proudly displaying our contempt for things broken.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Funny Headlines

I know I've been on an "Iraq War" kick lately - Sorry. Whether you agree with it or not, we are all tired of this war, and I can only imagine that the soldiers and their families are especially "war weary." So, I don't want to get in a blogging rut or anything - but I just got such a kick out of this e-mail I had to post it. I have been having some technical difficulties, and in fact this whole post has been erased once!! Anyway, I am trying it again, hopefully it works this time.

Updated to Add: Okay, I am just not getting these to space evenly, no matter what I try. Just use your head and I'm sure you can figure out which caption goes to which picture! Sorry about that...

Here are some pictures the media forgot to show us. If they had, these are the captions they likely would have shown:

While Asleep on Duty, Soldier Uses Iraqi Child as Body Armor

Terrified and Angry Iraqi Children Thank GIs for Not Opening Fire on Their Soccer Game

Another Example of Soldier Engaged in "Tickle Torture"

GI Hangs Iraqi Child By His Fingertips!

Troops Force Iraqi Children to Seesaw Till They Talk
Iraqi Child Bites GI in Self Defense

Soldier Employs Controversial "Talk or I'll Tickle You" Method. Another Example of Failed Intelligence Gathering.
American Soldier Tries to EAT Iraqi Child

Evidence of Forced Child Labor

P.S. If you want the scoop on the first picture, click here for the great story!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Pardon my ranting...

I do not have the time to give this the full attention it deserves, but this has just really pushed my buttons. I will hopefully be able to give a better update later.
The New Republic, a seething mass of liberals vomiting their hatred for all things conservative and spewing socialist opinions in the forms of facts, had been publishing a column called The Baghdad Diarist by a "passionate and talented" writer (their description, not mine) calling himself Scott Thomas. He claimed to be writing from Iraq while serving in the military, and was sharing stories of our troops gloriously representing their country by crushing stray dogs by swerving their Bradley Military Vehicles (have you seen those things?!!? How do you make them "swerve" exactly...), mocking a women whose face had been horribly disfigured from an IED, and wearing the bones of dead Iraqi children as crowns. I'm sure TNR put as much effort into validating these stories as Dan Rather & Company put into document verification. It involves a process similar to this:
1. Does it bash the military?
2. Does it try to portray the war and those fighting it in the most despicable light possible?
3. Oh heck, does it in any way further our radical, left-wing agenda?
Yes to all three? Cool! Let's print it!
I'm sure it comes as no surprise that after a lot of pressure and a military investigation of "Scott Thomas," it's been revealed that just about the only true thing he wrote was that he is in the military. I went to TNR to see what their response to this was, and let me tell you, only read their response if you have a barf bag handy. Here is TNR's reply. My favorite line in this was, "If the truth ends up reflecting poorly on our judgment, we will accept responsibility for that. But we also refuse to rush to judgment on our writer or ourselves." You refuse to rush to judgement!?!? Ironically, "rush" is too slow of a word to describe just how quickly you pounce on any anti-war propaganda someone is willing to dream up.

What makes me so sick about all of this is that so many liberals claim, "We support the troops, just not the war." Sorry, but that is a hypocritical, self-serving statement. Don't claim to support the troops, then gleefully race to publish any sick story that disparages the character of our men and women in uniform. I would like to think that the unmasking of "Scott Thomas" as a fraud will cause at least one liberal to pause and check the facts before assuming (and promoting the idea) that the Iraq War has turned all of the men and women serving there into babbling crazed idiots.

But, I doubt it.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Heart-wrenching Photo

I was so moved by this picture. War definitely has its ugly side, and this is it. At the same time, you can just feel the soldier's raw emotions as they try to rescue this child. (This photograph was taken moments after a terrorist attack wounded this little girl.)

I've done some research on the photographer who took this picture. His name is Michael Yon and his images are all very powerful. However, he has written that he feels the above picture "most completely embodies his experiences in Iraq."

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

If the Old Barn Needs Paint...

I got such a laugh out of this article, Cosmetic Appeal. I don't personally buy the really expensive cosmetics, I'm more of a L'oreal, Maybelline, Cover Girl... and a bit of Avon thrown in for good measure. But, I do know I like (and, dare I say, sometimes really need) my makeup!!! I especially liked the part about her husband sitting and watching her put on makeup, mesmerized by the process. Chad used to do the same thing! He comes from a home where none of the females used makeup, so he found my morning transformations especially fascinating. So, here's to all of us who need to paint a bit of "pretty" on our face now and then! Hey, I love being a girl.

Baby Genius? Think again!

It seemed to become quite the craze - all those DVDs that promised to turn your child into a genius. Just plug them in, and get on with your life! Now, any mom with a brain knows there is never any substitute for good, old-fashioned one-on-one interaction with your baby... but now there is a study that says children who are plugged in at an early age actually have smaller vocabularies. I am sure more and more research is out there and will soon prove just how detrimental television is to very young minds. Hey, I'm the first to say it's nice to have a break now and then, but let's not let it progress to where our children spend the majority of their day drooling in front of a screen with that vacant "TV stare" on their face.

Click here for the story:
DVDs don't produce Brainy Babies

Monday, August 6, 2007

Taking Time for MOMMY

There is some good advice in this article!! Any other good "sanity saver" tips you'd like to share?

Mom Care
Keep up your daily mom maintenance so you don't run out of gas.
By Barb Vogelgesang

"Is everyone buckled up? I just need to get gas, and we're good to go." I looked in the rearview mirror at the four young faces depending on me to get them to their various practices, doctors' appointments and friends' houses. I checked for my grocery list and pulled out of our driveway grateful that our minivan enables me to meet these needs. A few months ago, though, I ran out of gas! The five of us sat by the side of the road waiting for help. Our lives stopped because I hadn't kept up the daily maintenance of our vehicle.

Moms can run out of gas, too. If we don't care for ourselves in the midst of mothering, we'll break down and fail to meet the needs of our family. So how do we keep up the daily maintenance on Mom? Following is my personal care and feeding plan so I don't run out of gas.

Downtime is crucial. If I'm cranky and tired, the atmosphere of our house suffers. I've given myself permission to go to sleep early. The laundry can wait until morning to be put away.

Sharing the joy of raising our children with my hubby is important. Instead of hoping my husband will know when I need help, I specifically ask for his help. When it's his turn to make dinner, I agree that macaroni and cheese with hot dogs is delicious.

Great girlfriends are a must. Real friends don't tempt us down the path of gossip or self-pity. They inspire us, love us, pray with us, keep us accountable and give us tangible help that we can give back. I use e-mail and the telephone to keep in touch and plan mom playdates to keep me in top condition.

Training my children to be a family team is essential. My four kids help with chores and the everyday stuff of running a house. Their participation has allowed me to avoid the stress of disorder and disharmony. The team mentality spreads out the responsibility so it doesn't all fall on my shoulders.

Asking for help when I need it is vital. I am omni-nothing. But God is omni-everything. I continually ask him to place the people and resources in my life to help me accomplish all that's before me. I also work on accepting others' help and beat back the issues of pride that say I can and must do it all myself.

Having a creative outlet is FUNdamental. God, the ultimate Creator, made us in his image, and I need to satisfy the creative part of me. Writing and teaching theatre enable me to pursue goals beyond the household chore list.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is critical. Good eating habits, regular exercise and the continued renewing of our minds is essential to mom health. Taking a walk with some moms while our children have dance class, trading the mocha latte for water and reading a book instead of watching TV are great alternatives.

Learning to enjoy my children is significant. I didn't always enjoy my kids. I had to surrender to motherhood. But changing my perspective from seeing my children as my "work" to acknowledging that my children are my "recreation reminders" has been an incredible blessing to me.

My best refueling comes when I remember to connect with God. I have to be flexible to his plans instead of my own. Ongoing growth and intentional care for my body, mind and spirit fill my mom tank. Then I'm ready for whatever life has in store.

Barb Vogelgesang is a busy mom of four active children. She sees mothering as an exciting adventure because she's never sure what's going to happen next. A popular retreat speaker and MOPS Area Coordinator, Barb loves encouraging and inspiring moms. Copyright © 2007 by the author or Christianity Today International/MOMSense magazine. May/June 2007, Vol. 10, No. 3, Page 14

Say THANKS to our troops!

Here is a cool link where you can send a postcard to someone in the military. Let's Say Thanks

Click here for FAQ about this website.

I thought this was a pretty cool idea! This would really be a great way to have your kids send something, teaching them a valuable lesson in taking the time to show your appreciation for someone. Of course, it's not just for kids. I think the more cards that get sent the better!!!!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Breastfeeding Awareness

Governor Jennifer Granholm has declared August as Breastfeeding Awareness Month in Michigan. On a grander scale, communities around the world will celebrate World Breastfeeding Week from August 1 - August 7.

Linda Wieser writes the following, with, as you would expect, my own comments added:

...if, as a society, we are promoting good health, we need to promote and support breastfeeding. Human babies are born with very immature immune systems and depend on their mother's milk to provide them with the immune factors they need to fight infection. In fact, half the ingredients in breast milk are food for the baby's growth and development, and the other half are immune factors! It's like food and vaccine all in one package. That's why babies who do not breastfeed have a higher risk of ear infections, respiratory tract infections, diarrhea, bacterial meningitis, and urinary tract infections.
I suggest that, this August, all of us take a minute to decide how we can support breastfeeding families. If we know pregnant women, we can share with them the risks of not breastfeeding so they can make an informed choice.
(edited by yours truly to add: Then again, let's not get preachy considering there are situations such as adoption where breastfeeding is not a viable option...) In public businesses, we can welcome breastfeeding mothers to feed their babies whenever they are hungry. (edited once again to add: Specifically, we'd like a clean, private place where the more modest of us can nurse without feeling like a side show!!!) If we are employers, we can support our employees by providing a private space and sufficient breaks to breastfeed or pump. We will not be doing this because it's the latest fad, but because supporting and protecting breastfeeding is the healthy choice for the child, mother, and society.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

I'm a Little Confused

In April of 2004, President Bush signed "Unborn Victims of Violence Act" into law. This was also known as "Laci and Connor's Law" due to the highly publicized trial of Scott Peterson. This law makes it a separate and additional crime to kill an unborn child. Of course, there is an exemption in the law for the mother that gets an abortion. After all, it's a crime if someone else does it, but the mother has the right to choose. As if this isn't ridiculous enough, there is a new kink. Check out this grisly story from Ocean City, MD where the remains of four pre-term infants have been found on this woman's property.

I found this part of another article on the same story especially interesting:

State Delegate Susan K. McComas, a Republican who co-sponsored the 2005 bill, said the exemption was added by majority Democrats who feared the bill would restrict a woman's right to abortion. "We weren't contemplating a woman doing something to her own fetus," McComas said.

Prosecutors and police concede it could take months to sort out all the physical evidence and determine what charges, if any, may be appropriate for Freeman if the three sets of older remains found in her home and Winnebago belonged to her."It may turn into a war of experts, with the prosecution experts saying the fetus was viable and the defense experts saying the fetus was not viable, or it's impossible to know whether the fetus was viable," said Baltimore attorney Andrew D. Levy.

Another article states:

The timing is critical. If the pre-term infants were too young to be considered viable outside the womb, Freeman can't be charged with murder. And if they died before Maryland passed its 2005 fetal homicide law, it may not be a crime even if they were old enough to live outside the womb and Freeman caused their deaths.
The fetal homicide law was designed to penalize those who kill a pregnant woman or her viable fetus, but it includes a provision shielding pregnant women from prosecution for actions that result in the death of their own fetuses.

Basically, if they can prove that the four babies, assuming they are her babies, found on this woman's property were "not viable," (how on earth are they going to prove that?!?!?) this woman will walk because of the provision in the law protecting the mother from prosecution if she kills her own unborn baby. As long as the baby is killed before it can survive outside the womb, this law does not apply. How twisted is this?

Welcome! Now, about that title...

Hee, hee. I get a lot of "Nice blog, but what's up with that title!??!" It's based on the phrase, "A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle." This feminist slogan is often attributed to the esteemed leader in the feminist movement, Gloria Steinem. She actually heard the phrase from Irina Dunn, who, ironically, says she based it on another saying, "Man needs God like a fish needs a bicycle." Aside from illustrating that feminists lack the ability to form a creative or original thought, I believe both sayings have led many a man and woman into a life of emptiness and a lack of fulfillment. This fish needs her bicycle, whether in reference to my God or to my man. Beyond needing them, my entire life purpose is wrapped up in my relationship with them and their love for me.

So that's it. Hope that clears up the confusion. Oh, and welcome!! ;0)