Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Voice Magazine

Looking for a great magazine full of insightful articles? Check out The Voice. I just received mine yesterday and right in the front of it is an article from my blog. My daughter, Alea, after seeing my name in print, repeatedly told me how cool I was. "Swwwweeeeeeet Mom! You are sooooooo cool!"

It is a free magazine published bimonthly out of the UK.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Gifts No Longer Accepted

Have you noticed that in this day in age in the United States you can't just give a small gift to someone out of the kindness of your heart? Recently, while at a doctor's office, Kasi, who loves to share and give, tried giving the doctor a small something. The doctor said that their policy does not permit them to accept gratuities. This is not the first time we have run into this either.

Last summer, our washing machine needed repair. It was hot. Our repair man was a big guy. After watching him get up and down off the floor working on our washing machine, sweating and breathing heavy, Alea brought him a glass of water. He refused, stating the same policy. (I did wonder in my highly sarcastic mind if he would refuse the gratuity of a payout from our homeowners policy if he had a heart attack while working on my machine)

It really makes me wonder what our society is coming to, when out of fear of lawsuits and unfair treatment, people are not permitted to accept a kindness from another. Where do you have to look to see and learn about unconditional love? What lesson are my children learning when their kindnesses are repeatedly refused? Will they keep trying to issue them, or just quit trying?

This problem seems to be limited mostly to the United States. In other parts of the world tokens of kindness are accepted regularly, and a barter system is still in place. But we are all living in fear of being sued. We are a litigating country. People hungry for money and the 'American dream' will sue for anything. For them, winning a lawsuit is akin to winning the lottery.

And what about the barter system? This country was founded on the barter system. People without money could often purchase goods and services in exchange for goods or services they could provide. A sick child could receive medical care in exchange for food, or sewing, or some such thing. Money, although useful, was not entirely necessary. We have almost eliminated that from our society. We have made is so you must always have money. No money - no service! Which, of course, means you never have enough money. So people work longer hours, and take on more jobs.

What kind of society will eventually emerge if small kindnesses are eliminated entirely? If behavior is learned, people will never learn to be kind to others. Apathy will replace sympathy. We see stories in the news of people being in peril, and others just standing by and watching, unwilling to step in and lend a hand. We are feeding that type of behavior. In time, will unconditional love only exist for mothers and their babies. Or will that too begin to fade?

You hear all too often, 'you can't get something for nothing'. We, the skeptics, are always looking for the attached strings. Has it always been that way? Or is that something we have learned recently? A behavior that we have learned in response to all these policies?

In order to truly grow as a society, not in size, but to experience real positive growth, we need to reestablish a sense of community. And this will never happen unless we begin teaching our children, and ourselves, that kindness is a good and acceptable thing. And that there is more to life than money.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas To You All!

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them. Luke 2:8-20 NLT
Have a blessed Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Yummy Works of Art

If you like cupcakes (of course you do), you need to check out You will find there some of the most beautiful pieces of sweet art you have ever seen. For those of you easily impressed, here is a picture of my first cake made with gum paste decorations. This is from last spring. Maybe I'll get back to playing with it again one of these days. Then again, making soap is much less fattening!

Is Vengeance Mine?

I overheard a conversation the other day that really bothered me. Two guys were talking about vengeance. One said he thought it should be like the Bible says ~ an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. He stated that if someone hung someone, they should be hung. If they tortured someone to death, they should be tortured to death. He said that that was the only way someone would learn their lesson. It never ceases to amaze me how people can pick a few words out of the Bible out of context and quote it as complete truth. And they then fail to recognize what the Bible says that contradicts their belief. Here is what I found in relation to vengeance:

38 "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
Matt 5:38-39 (ESV)

43 "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
Matt 5:43-47 (ESV)

18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.
Lev 19:17-18 (ESV)

Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." 20 To the contrary, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head."
Romans 12:17-20 (ESV)

Now, why would God tell us to not repay violence with violence? Does he want us to be a doormat? Does he want us to suffer at the hands of our enemies without defending ourselves? Does he not understand how cruel people can be to each other?

The truth is that God knows that more fire only feeds a fire. When I was in college I completed an internship at Boys Republic in Chino, CA. Boys Republic is a treatment 'community' for boys with emotional and behavioral problems. At the time, many of the boys were gang members. When the director first interviewed me, he asked me several situational questions. One was how would I react if faced with a boy that was very aggressive and confrontational toward me. Remember, I was 21 (and looked about 15), and 4'10". My mind was thinking about the quickest way to defend myself against some wild teenage boy who towered over me. The correct answer, he told me, was to take on a relaxed nonchalant stance, maybe leaning against a wall, and to speak quietly. Hmmm, not my first reaction. The truth was that they would simmer down if not confronted. They were looking for a fight. They were looking for someone to fight with. If you didn't feed their fire, it would extinguish itself.

I have since gone on to work as a correctional officer at a medium security men's prison, and to work with teenage boys with behavioral problems in a public high school setting. I had a problem once at the prison with a man exposing himself to me during a block check. I calmly stepped outside the door and told him to get dressed and step out for roll call. He tried getting real defensive, and trying to egg me on. I just quietly told him that I was not making an issue of it, and would he please get dressed and come into the hall before an issue was made. He got dressed and came out. I never had another problem with him. He would quietly (without looking me in the eye) always say "good morning CO". And that was the end of that. No pepper spray or strong arming necessary.

I was given a boy to work with at the high school who was constantly agitated. Other staff protested saying that he needed a man to control him, not some short, weak woman. They said they were concerned for my safety. (they didn't know I had beat up a bully in my younger days ;D) Another boy would get angry at the way people would tease him, and strike out. We had a walk and talk policy. We would walk the track and talk. I never had a problem with either the men at the prison, or the boys at the high school. I was not a threat. I was calming. I was non-confrontational. It was a more effective way. I didn't know at the time that it worked because it was God's plan. They learned a new way to react to situations. They also learned that it takes two to battle.

Vengeance never diffuses anger. You may be able to get a person to surrender and submit, but even though their arms aren't flailing, their mind is turning. They are planning how to rise up against you. That is why countries controlled by a dictatorship are always full of civil uprising. Anger, control, confrontation, violence - they all feed aggression. And it never ends at an eye for an eye. It is always - 'they took one eye, I will take two'! Look at gang warfare. One gang shoots a member of another gang. They retaliate by shooting a family member of a member of the first gang. They retaliate by killing an entire family of the other gang. It never stops, and it continues to escalate. That's how family feuds get started. That is how wars begin.

All people learn by example. We can start by setting an example of peace and forgiveness. My prayer is for a world where there is truly peace on earth and good will toward ALL men.

Have a wonderful Christmas! And please remember the king at the center of the celebration!

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Luke 2:14 (KJV)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

My Babies are Growing Up at Lightening Speed!

Go Forth and Create Smiles!

The girls and I have been hanging with the veterans this week at the VA Hospital. My dad had cataract surgery Monday morning, an MRI late Monday, and two appointments on Tuesday. I took a huge bag of goodies to keep them occupied (my back hurts to prove it!). We sailed through Monday with the girls crocheting, coloring, doing workbooks and Mad Libs, chatting with elderly veterans, and playing peek-a-boo with patients and staff from the door of the waiting room. They were true troopers. They never got wild. And when I tried to scold them for the peek-a-boo, I was informed that they were brightening the place, and the smiles with legs that passed by proved the point.

Tuesday, we returned to find that my dad had two spread out appointments instead of the one quick in-and-out checkup we were expected. Instead of getting frustrated, I quickly realized that we were where God wanted us to be for the time. Apparently, there were some folks in need of Christmas cheer and Alea and Kasi were just the ones to deliver it. They sat in the waiting rooms and chit chatted with all the folks growing weary of waiting. They joked and smiled with the staff. One doctor told me how wonderful it was to see children. They just don't see children at the VA. One nurse came up and asked me if they were the children she saw Monday in building 2. I had people coming up left and right who had seen them Monday and told me how great it was to have them back. Alea made a comment about how they had televisions on in every waiting room, and that all that was on was News and Weather, and that there were just a bunch of magazines about Diabetes (with eye roll). So, apparently, they needed a change of scenery.

Why don't we go places more often that we aren't expected at? Take some kids to the VA or a nursing home. Ask to be put on the visitor list of someone in prison who doesn't receive visitors. Head to the local shelter with some snacks and magazines. Do something unexpected! Go forth and create some smiles!

Friday, December 14, 2007

A Night of Ladies Fellowship!

Last night was Festival of Tables. This is an evening of ladies fellowship that we do at our church every December. Several women sign up to decorate a table - often with a theme. Such a great opportunity to exercise our creative muscles. With the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, it is really nice to sit down to a wonderful meal, at a beautiful table, and be served by a few of the guys we love - dressed in bow ties. We talked, we ate, and we made new friends. I highly recommend it.

As Christians, one of the things we are commanded to do is to serve one another. It was one of the last things Jesus did for his disciples before being arrested. He got on his knees and washed their feet. But we also need to do the next thing he did that night. We need to communion and fellowship with others. Both are necessary. Both are good.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Welcome One! Welcome All!

I saw this sign the other day in the parking lot of a local church. It disturbed me. Maybe you have seen others like it. One was posted at the entrance of the parking lot, and one at the exit. I photographed the one at the exit so I would be ready to cut a trail in my minivan with my girls should the church campus police come after me for trespassing on private property.

The message disturbs me. You are welcome at this church to learn about Jesus Christ, and come to know him if (1) you 'belong', or (2) you are invited by someone who does 'belong'. It screams to me riff-raff and ragamuffins need not apply. Lost people need not apply. Sinners need not apply. Travelers and business people away from your churches, stay out of ours. What ever happened to reaching the people? What ever happened to going out amongst the people? What ever happened to the notion that God is the creator and owner of ALL? Has that changed? Or have people lost their focus on the reality of scripture? Have they focused so clearly on their highlighted verses that they forgot the other verses in their Bibles exist?

So many churches claim to exist to reach the lost and bring them to know and accept Christ as their personal savior. But what message are they sending to the lost? How inviting are they making themselves? It really produces an 'us versus them' mentality. Not only in the people outside the church building walls but within the minds of those people sitting in the seats. Do our churches exist to serve the lost or the saved? It is not the healthy that need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous but the sinners to repentance. Luke 5:31-32 How will they get 'healthy' if we don't welcome them in to meet the doctor?

My Bible tells me that All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2Timothy 3:16-17 That means that the Bible is not just a history lesson. It's not just a nifty bunch of Bible stories and songs. It is an instruction manual. It is there to show us which way to travel and to set us straight when we start to stray from the path God intended for us. And it gives us several instructions on how to treat one another (not just within the walls of our church buildings). It tells us to :

Love your neighbor as yourself. If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. Galatians 5:14-15

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Romans 12:16

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these. Mark 12:30

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:34-35

Therefore let us stop passing judgement on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way. Romans 14:13

I didn't discover any verses about setting up a church 'country club' with only those with a membership allowed to enter. Please let me know of any you find. I did find this:

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. And the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go out and visit you?'

The King will reply, ' I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' Matthew 25:31-45

I think back to when my husband and I started exploring the life of Jesus Christ, and looking at Christianity. My husband had a mohawk. I wonder if this church, or many others like it would have invited us in to explore and learn about Jesus. I think of all the churches that encourage a members only attitude. I remember the words of Shane Claiborne who claimed to have given up Christianity to follow Jesus Christ. I understand how he became disillusioned by the church system and turned his focus on Jesus Christ, the man.

So many people have been hurt by the Church, hurt by Christians. Yes, alot of churches have open arms, waiting to welcome in outsiders. But we should continue to be disturbed until that is the norm, not the exception. And we must always remember, we are the Church! We are her arms. We are her feet. We are the tools necessary to change her.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Something to Ponder

My Internet has been down since last week, and my brain has been active thinking of all the things I wanted to share with you once it (the Internet connection...not my brain =D) came back up. First off, for those of you out doing any form of shopping during this holly, jolly time of year, who may have encountered some folks lacking in the joy of the Christmas season, I have a few reminders to help you overcome your discouragement.

(a guide for Global Leadership)

All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sand pile at school.

These are the things I learned:

Share everything.

Play fair.

Don't hit people.

Put things back where you found them.

Clean up your own mess.

Don't take things that aren't yours.

Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.

Wash your hands before you eat.


Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.

Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.

Take a nap every afternoon.

When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.

Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.

Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we.

And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK.

Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.

Take any one of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm. Think what a better world it would be if we all - the whole world - had cookies and milk at about 3 o'clock in the afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had as a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.

And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out in the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.

[Source: "ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN" by Robert Fulghum. See his web site at ]

**I know it is easy to say 'I get it. But I sure wish they would'. Children and adults alike learn by the example we set. Grumbling and complaining are contagious. Spread kindness and joy, even when it pains you, and it will make a difference - one person at a time.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

A Different Christmas Carol

I am not a person to pass on every forward that enters my in box. But a few are set apart. This one gives up something to think about and people to pray for.

Whether or not you agree with the choices our government is making for our armed services, please always try to encourage and support the men and women who serve.

A Different Christmas Carol

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.

Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.

My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,
Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.

My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.

A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.

"What are you doing?" I asked without fear,
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"

For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts..
To the window that danced with a warm fire's light
Then he sighed and he said "Its really all right,

I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night."
"It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.

No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at ' Pearl on a day in December,"
Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."

"My dad stood his watch in the jungles of ' Nam ',
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.
I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile."

Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue... an American flag.
"I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.

I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother..

Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall."
"So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."

"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."

Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.

For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."

Origins of this poem can be found at:

20th Century Education

I have run into several of my kids from the high school recently. One young man called me the other day to talk after a friend passed away, and I saw one yesterday at the store. One new young mother came up to me a few months ago eager to show off her new daughter. Seeing these kids and having them come to me to share their concerns and joys really lifts me up. It has been 2 1/2 years since I quit working outside the home so I could home school my girls. And I really miss my other kids!

God sent me to work at the high school. (Seems my psych degree and work history at a juvenile placement facility and as a correctional officer at a medium security prison perfectly qualified me for high school work) I believe that was the final thing he did in convincing me to home school. See, I worked with some awesome kids. There were even some incredible teachers, and a wonderful principal at the school I worked at. But the kids I worked with had learning disabilities and behavioral problems. And there is this nifty little rule in place that says that the school system must accommodate ALL disabilities. Sounds great, but in the school system's attempt to be accommodating, they bind and gag their staff and then instruct them to teach effectively. They use the term 'disability' to cover any and every deviance in an attempt to placate some parents of out-of-control teens.

Let me give an example. I was given charge of a teenage boy whose mother insisted he was bipolar. Numerous psychiatrists had not yet determined that, but mom was insistent. He gets upset with a teacher who asks him to participate in class, puts his head down, and starts playing with a lighter (not supposed to have lighters in high school!), trying to light papers on fire and fling them into the trash can. I try to quietly take him to the hall, and confiscate the lighter, and tell him to show his teacher the respect of listening instead of being distracting. (Always take a kid aside quietly- never make a scene or embarrass them in front of other kids - you lose them.) He tells me (very loudly....with swearing) that the next time he will light the whole school on fire. I try escorting him to the office while he storms off from me, loudly swearing at me down the hallway, disrupting every classroom on the way. I probably had about three hundred witnesses. After his talk with the vice principal, (did I mention I was instructed to wait outside?), he is given a warning to try to control his anger and a smile......and I am informed/reminded that he is bipolar, have bipolar slowly and patiently explained to me, and am instructed that he is not acting out - it is his 'disability' speaking, and told that we must work around his 'disability'.

He was quite quickly shown that I have no authority, and that he can do whatever he wants! I am given the same speech by one of the other teachers, the whole time wondering why they are speaking so slooooowwwly to me. Do I appear slow?

I must share my response. I was a little rude. I instructed the powers-that-be that I did not come to the school with a degree in education, but one in psychology - neuropsychology to be exact. And that I had studied bipolar disorder pretty extensively - even knew folks with it. And that that kid was not, in my opinion, bipolar. He was defiant, disrespectful, and had no respect for authority, and had never been held accountable for his actions, but he was NOT disabled. And then I told them that we were crippling him by allowing him to get away with it, and we were robbing him of an education. He was going to be shocked the first time he ran into trouble with the law, threw up his hands and said 'but wait, I have a disability!' and they told him to shut up and threw him in the slammer.

And, by the way, what about the other kids? What about the kids whose classes were disrupted? What about the kids in his class, unable to learn, because of all the drama constantly going on around them? What about the kids he threatens, because they happen to be in his path when he is throwing a temper tantrum?

So, like I was saying....I still miss my kids. But the bureaucracy of the public school system, in an effort to be politically correct, and in an effort to give everyone an equal education, places enough restrictions on the educators that they are not able to effectively teach as they desire. Equal education now means average, not excellent, education. Some kids, thankfully, still manage to excel. But it is often a result of their own perseverance, and alot of time and effort from their parents. And it is not because the teachers are incompetent. I met some incredible, gifted teachers. But most teachers, given time, will grow weary of trying to teach bound and gagged.

I think God wanted me to see the system. He wanted me to realize that my own children could possibly be those other kids, incapable of learning to the best of their ability, because the teacher has to accommodate the needs of other kids first. Or maybe my children could develop into the defiant, disrespectful kid, their education being put on hold while their behaviors ignored. And I am so thankful, because I know I am not the best teacher, or the best mom. But there is one thing that homeschooling allows me to do. It allows me to teach my children, without the worries and distractions of dealing with the bureaucracy of the school system, free to flail my unbound hands, and speak from my ungagged mouth.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Remembrance of Heroes

I don't know why I chose today. It isn't a special day. I was just thinking about my Uncle Terry and his copilot who died when their helicopter 'Pegasus' crashed into the Klamath River not quite a year and a half ago. They were fighting the wildfires near the California / Oregon border.

Terry 'Jake' Jacobs
born 2~18~48


Andrei Pantchenko
born 4~20~68

Both died on 8~04~06

Please pray for all the brave folks fighting these fires that have been ravaging our beautiful countryside. They have saved many lives and many have given their lives for the privilege of doing so. And please continue to pray for the safety of the firefighters to come.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

I Won Something!!

Some of you know that I am forming a soap-making addiction. Hey, I've had worse addictions! But I digress. Anne-Marie and her Soap Queen blog is one of my daily reads. She shares all sorts of bath and body product how-to's and what-not's. If you love to craft, make stuff, learn new things, pamper yourself or others, or just plain meet fun people, you need to check her out.

She had a surprise drawing from commenters to give away some fabulous essential oils and perfume oil blends. And the winner is.......koinoniacommunity! I won! I won! I won!

Thanks, Anne-Marie, for lifting my spirits!

Looking for ingredients to make your own goodies? She can help you there too. Follow her link to Bramble Berry!

Jesus ~ Lover of My Soul

When you think of Jesus what do you think of? Do you think of a baby in a manger? Do you think of a man, the son of God, suffering and dying on a cross? Or do you think of the many Bible stories you have heard through the years, telling of his life? Do you see him as a child, a boy, and a man, suffering the same challenges and pitfalls we all go through in daily living? Do you believe he came to pay the ultimate price for YOUR sins? Do you believe he knows you personally?

Here we are not far into Advent, and it really has my mind reeling. I have to admit, this is our first year celebrating Advent. Normally we go through the rush, rush, rush, leading up to Christmas, and the clean up and rest leading away from Christmas. But we have made a vow to stop and make time for things important to us as a family, and things important to God. And we are making the time to talk about Jesus' life every day, and delve into who he was, and who he is.

I see Jesus sitting in Heaven chatting with God, living the life. God is talking to him about the sin in the world, and the sin sacrifices. He tells Jesus about his idea to send him into the world to live as a man. He wants Jesus to teach the people about Him, to suffer as they do, and then tells Jesus he will be mocked, beaten, and killed to atone for all the sins yet to come.....ever! The final blood sacrifice. And Jesus says he will do it.

I think back to all the times I have said 'if I had any idea I was going to have to go through this, I would never have done that'. I don't like to suffer. I sure don't do it voluntarily. Can you even imagine agreeing to suffer for people you don't even know? People who will mock you, spit on you, beat you, then kill you? People who don't even believe in you? People like me, not so many years ago, who believed the story of Jesus was just that....a story?

Sounds too good to be true, doesn't it? It is. Yet it is not. See, we as people are not capable of thinking that way. Only someone from God, who is without sin, can think entirely of the ultimate goal, without his mind being clouded with selfish thoughts. We are always, no matter how righteous and serving, going to think about our suffering, our sacrifice, what we want to do.

I also see Jesus as a person. I see him as a boy going through growing pains, suffering through a cold, a cut finger, wanting his mommy, and friends who won't share a plaything. I see him as a man, hungry and tired, or laughing with his friends. I see him telling people about God, knowing what he is going to suffer, and knowing their thoughts, feeling their mocking words and rejection.
All of this, and I think of what he wants from me in return for his suffering. He has promised to wash away all my sins, and grant me eternal life. What is the price? Of course there is a catch. Nothing is free, right? The fee is faith.

14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life."

16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
John 3:14-18 (ESV)

Faith! Belief! That is the only fee he requires. People ask all the time if you believe in Santa. But do you believe in Jesus? Do you truly believe?