Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Pumpkin & Candy Day!

Step 1: Take the kids to pick out their pumpkins. A pumpkin patch with hay rides would be ideal, but Alberston's fits a full schedule and is equally as effective in procuring said pumpkins.

Step 2: Mom scoops out all the goopy-goo, picks out seeds one by one and puts them in bowl with salt for a pre-roasting soak. This takes a long time because she has to stop and wash her hands ever three minutes to answer the phone, get someone's sweatshirt off, stir the hamburger, settle an argument, etc.

Step 3: Kids draw faces on pumpkins.

Step 4: Mom fixes faces and explains why she can't carve out hair, eyebrows, eyelashes, eyes, a curvy nose, cheeks, a mustache, a mouth with lots of little teeth and a goatee all in one pumpkin's face.

Step 5: Mom carves faces in pumpkins, stopping to re-explain step 4 to youngest child.

Step 6: Mom arranges pumpkins on front porch, lights and inserts candles. (This is a good time for the kids to get ready for bed, especially since this is taking place on a school night because all the we-can-stay-up-late nights have already passed.)

Step 7: Kids come running out to the street and squeal at how cool the pumpkins look all lit up.

Step 8: Everyone insists their pumpkin is the best.

Step 9: Savor the smell of burning pumpkin as it wafts in the second story window that's above the porch.


(Clockwise from top right: Ian, Brit, Jordan, Taylor.)

May your evening be filled with laughing children in colorful costumes, cool pumpkin faces and lots of candy.
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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Works For Me Wednesday: Quick Bathroom Cleaning


I'm sure I've blogged on this before. It's got to be somewhere in my archives, because it's the only real cleaning tip I have. You know those times when you're with a group of girls talking about girlie things like shoes and makeup and hair and poopy diapers and the best way to get permanent marker out of your couch? This is the only gold nugget I can pull out when it comes to household cleaning/organization. Oh, I will fill you in on shoes and hair 'til kingdom come, but that's about where it stops.

We have an open door policy with friends. Come on over. Anytime. (You, too! You reading this. Anytime.) But whenever that doorbell rings, my mind immediately jumps to one place: the bathroom. Because, really, you can explain the rest of your house. People dropping my spur of the moment truly have grace... except when it comes to the bathroom. All else can be laughed away... legos on the floor, spills on the couch, shoes piled up on the stairs. But that little puddle by the toilet where your five year old didn't quite hit the target? That is a different matter.

But, do I continue to worry about the state of everyone's favorite relaxing room? Of course not!!! That's because I keep everything I need UNDER THE SINK. (If you don't have a bathroom cabinet, use a pretty box or one of those cool storage cubbie thingies from Target.) Paper towels, toilet bowl cleaner/brush, disinfecting wipes, disinfecting spray, and the queen of all cleaners... Windex. When someone drops by and I'm unsure of the commode's condition I simply excuse myself for a moment. They think I'm "using the facilities," when I'm actually doing a quick wipe down of the porcelain. And remember, after you Windex the mirror, use the towel to give the faucet a good once over. Also, keep a few fresh hand towels under the sink so you can discreetly change out the one that has soccer-practice-mud and someone's scabby blood on it.

Presto! If your guests use the bathroom they will think it's always this clean... and that's what Works For Me. For more great tips check out Rocks In My Dryer.
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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

One Issue

This is THE most important issue. No other issue can outweigh this one. A vote for Obama is a vote against life, against what God's word says about life... a vote for Obama goes against God's word. It's as simple as that. I'm not all "Yay, McCain," either. But God help anyone the day they choose to set aside life as the defining issue. I am deeply grieved and dumbfounded as to how any Christian who believes in the totality of the Bible can vote for Barack Obama. I know I'm drawing a huge line in the sand here, and some of my readers fall into this exact category. You know who you are, and you also know you are my friends and I will always love you dearly. But you are wrong. I cannot be silent on this issue.

I am reposting this (in part), with permission, from The Eternal Perspectives Blog, by Randy Alcorn. He has said so well what I have tried to.

*****************************************************************
Why I’m Voting for 98% Pro-life John McCain rather than 100% Pro-legal-abortion Barack Obama

Many have asked me about John McCain’s position on abortion, and why I am voting for him. That’s what this blog is about. The issues aren’t easy...

I’ve gotten a tidal wave of comments from Obama and Chuck Baldwin supporters...

I’ve also been angrily challenged as to why I don’t care about other needy and dying children, only the unborn. Actually, all the royalties from all of my books go to help the needy, including feeding and clothing and relieving the suffering of children all over the world. We give to prolife work, but far more to famine relief and development. By God’s grace, over four million dollars has been distributed for people-helping causes in the last number of years, much of it to children.

It’s curious that because I’m expressing concern about unborn children, people assume I don’t care about children who are already born. I do. But neither of the two major presidential candidates is advocating the legalized killing of already born children. However, one is advocating the legalized killing of unborn children. Since it is already illegal to kill the born, I’m talking about the rights and needs of the unborn.

Okay, now for McCain on abortion. Several people raised the issue of McCain allowing for abortions when the mother’s life is at stake. Like many adamant prolifers, including National Right to Life, I allow for the exception, rare as it is. The mother is a human being of equal value to the child. If only one life can be saved, physicians should save that life. More often than not, e.g. with massive uterine cancer in the earliest stages of pregnancy, that person is the mother. See my treatment of "What about a woman whose life is threatened by pregnancy or childbirth?"

I got an email from Angela, another young woman I greatly respect. (These young women ask the best questions). She said, “I truly appreciate your last blog on abortion and the presidential candidates. I guess I'm still having a problem voting for McCain. Unless I'm wrong, doesn't McCain support embryonic stem cell research and abortion in the case of rape or incest? I realize a vote for him could reduce the amount of abortions, obviously in comparison to Obama, but I think this is a quote from one of your other blogs, ‘voting for the lesser of two evils is still voting for evil.’ That's where my problem is. Do you have any thoughts on this?”

Here’s my position on abortion in the case of rape or incest. The bottom line is that children are children, and they shouldn’t be denied the right to live just because their fathers did something terrible to their mothers.

On stem cell research, here’s my friend Scott Klusendorf, who states it well. And although it’s too late to save the lives of aborted babies used in stem cell research, the fact remains it is morally repugnant.

So, yes, I fully concur with Angela’s concerns. To me these are the two most troubling things about John McCain, and I truly wish they were otherwise.

Like several commenters, Angela read my blog from a year ago, about why I would not vote for pro-abortion Rudy Giuliani if he won the Republican nomination. I just reread what I said then, and I still believe it. If John McCain had Giuliani’s position on abortion, I wouldn’t vote for him, for the same reason that I wouldn’t vote for a pro-slavery candidate even if he had better ideas about the economy than his opponent.

However, in an imperfect world I do think there’s a difference between being completely wrong about abortion, like Giuliani, and mostly right but partly wrong about abortion, like John McCain. Nanci and I have wrestled with this, and just as we agreed in the past to vote for a third party candidate, in this case we agreed, though reluctantly, to vote for McCain in light of the only electable alternative.

Let me try an analogy to show you why. Suppose in the town you live in, there’s a lake where, for the last thirty-five years, children have been taken by parents to be drowned. Say that every day 100 children are brought to this lake.

As a town citizen, you are presented with two candidates for mayor. (You can vote for a third party, but clearly one of these two candidates will be elected.) One candidate publicly states that he believes the right thing is that the children not be brought to that lake. They should be allowed to live, except the one or two conceived by rape. By longstanding town law the 100 daily drownings are all legal, and the mayor can’t change the law. However, this mayoral candidate has publicly stated that the law should be changed, and he hopes to appoint judges who help that happen, so that 98 or 99 of the 100 children would live rather than die.

Now, the deaths of those one or two children conceived by rape should rightly disturb you. And if until now zero children had been killed at the lake, it would be evil to vote for a man willing for one or two to be legally drowned. But for thirty-five years, 100 children have been killed there each day. This man is trying to move the town in the right direction, even though he has stopped just short of a 100% reversal. No additional children will be killed if his position were in place, because those one or two children would have been killed anyway under existing law. But 98 or 99 a day would be rescued from the death they will face if his position isn’t put in place.

The other mayoral candidate believes that not one of those 100 children chosen for drowning by their parents should be rescued. He believes that the doctors holding them under the water should be allowed to do this. He is prochoice about the drowning of children. In the last twenty years there have been some limited prolife measures voted in by townspeople that have made it more difficult to drown children, saving some lives. But this candidate has promised to sign a bill that would remove all those restrictions. He would invalidate the requirement that doctors explain to parents what it means to drown a child. He would invalidate the law that requires grandparents to be notified if their children are going to drown their grandchildren.

In fact, this man has said of his own daughters, “If they make a mistake, I don’t want them punished with a baby.” He would support their right to hire a doctor to drown their babies, his grandchildren, in the lake. And he promises the town’s legal drowning organization, which makes considerable money by drowning children, that he will only appoint town judges who are in favor of the legalized-child-drowning laws.

Now here is our moral dilemma. Our next mayor will either be the 98%-don’t-drown-the-children candidate OR the 100%-drown-all-children-whose-parents-don’t-want-them candidate.

We could write in someone who has no chance of winning. It would be a protest vote, showing we don’t totally agree with either candidate. However, if others who believe all babies deserve to live do this same thing, the result will be that the 98% prolife candidate can’t win, and the 0% prolife candidate will be our mayor.

If you vote for the candidate in favor of saving 98 babies, it could be argued that you would be voting for the lesser of evils, since killing one or two children is evil. But after all these years of child-killing, you see the opportunity—if the 98% prolife mayor takes office and makes those prolife court appointments, countless future children’s lives could be saved. It’s not certain, but it’s a real possibility. And what is certain is this: if the candidate in favor of legalized child-killing wins the election, due to his agreement to remove any of the town’s existing child-killing restrictions, more children will die who wouldn’t have if the other candidate takes office.

As we’ve pondered this, Nanci and I have decided, for better or worse, that what we’re voting for is not the lesser of evils—like voting for Giuliani would have been—but the greatest possible good available to us under the circumstances. The only electable alternative is the worst possible evil toward a people group—a 100% commitment to the legalized killing of unborn children whose parents don’t want them.

Rather than voting for McCain’s regrettable exceptions, we are voting for his predominantly prolife position, just as we are voting against Obama’s exclusively pro-legal-abortion position.

One of the commenters on my last blog said, “God didn't call us to win. He called us to do what is right.” Well, to me this has never been about us winning. I don’t even know who us is. To me, it’s certainly not about Republicans winning, or John McCain winning. My concern is whether unborn babies will be protected. Sure, I want to be able to sleep at night because I did the right thing. But I also want millions of babies to sleep (or cry) at night, because my vote actually helped them live. That, I believe, is the right thing for me to do—not to vote for an ideal unelectable candidate, but to do what I can to help children live even if I have to vote for a flawed candidate to do so.

To me, this is very different than the Rudy Giuliani situation I was addressing a year ago when I said:
As for Rudy Giuliani, try as I might, I just can't believe that followers of Jesus who stand for the cause of unborn children and family values are supposed to vote for a man who will not 1) defend the rights of the unborn, 2) define marriage as between a man and a woman; 3) keep his vows to his wife and 4) refrain from betraying and abandoning his own children. This is a man who publicly appeared with his mistress all over New York while still married.

I also said in that article:
I don't see casting a vote on the level of unqualified absolute endorsement… All of us become pragmatic (choosing one imperfect candidate over a more imperfect one) at some point or we never vote at all, which some of my prolife friends never do. I give them consistency, but I wonder if they ever choose a less than perfect pastor, insurance program, or loaf of bread.

Consider Abraham Lincoln, who was mostly right about slavery, but partly wrong. In a land where slavery had embedded itself in the culture, he saw its wrongs, but made statements that showed in certain respects he “didn’t get it.” But compared to his opponent, Douglas, who defended the continuance of slavery, Lincoln did indeed “get it.”

So who do I think a Christian should have voted for in terms of the dominant human rights issue of his culture? Lincoln. His position on slavery wasn’t perfect, but it was good enough to make a huge difference.

Many years ago, abortion began to embed itself into our own culture. I would rather McCain be exactly right, but I would rather have him be 98% there than not at all. (Yes, I realize McCain’s powers with abortion and Lincoln’s with slavery are different, and I realize McCain is no Lincoln; the analogy is to their imperfect beliefs about human rights that were nonetheless far better than the prevailing law of the land.)

Years ago I had long discussions with Christian friends who voted against an Oregon ballot measure that attempted to restrict abortion to cases involving rape, incest and threat to the mother’s life. (A John McCain type of position.) Nanci and I voted for the measure. Why? Because it would save the vast majority of babies who would have been aborted in a state that wouldn’t begin to agree to a measure saving 100% of lives. The idea is, if you can start by saving some, eventually you might save more. And in this case, saving 98% would have been a bold start!

But my no-compromising prolife friends were “unwilling to sacrifice the 2% for the 98%.” So they voted against the measure. It sounded noble. (Never mind that still today their vote is remembered in Oregon politics as a pro-abortion vote.)

Certainly I would never kill two babies to save one hundred. But shouldn’t I jump in and try to save 98 babies even if I couldn’t save two, if those two would have died along with the 98 if I did nothing? My point is this—no unborn children who wouldn’t have died will die if John McCain is in office. And many children, through Supreme Court appointments, could ultimately be saved.

If I were at the beach and four children were drowning and I could save only one or two of them, I would be grieved at those I couldn’t save. But I would not stay out of the water on the principle that if I can’t save them all, I shouldn’t try to save any. How are those not saved helped by the drowning of others? What’s pragmatic is sometimes immoral and sometimes moral, and we have to weigh it. Believe me, I understand the difficulty. That’s why I greatly sympathize with Angela’s question, which I have wrestled with nearly every election cycle. If my vote for McCain meant saying that children conceived by rape should be allowed to die, this would be evil. But I don’t see it as that—I see it as the best possible chance for many future children to live.

Notice that pro-abortion forces do not celebrate McCain because of his exceptions with children conceived by rape. On the contrary, they see him as threatening the future of legal abortions because of the judges they think he’d appoint. And they see an Obama victory as the single greatest advancement of the abortion cause since Roe v. Wade. Doesn’t that tell you something?

I am not beholden to the Republican Party, nor am I on a McCain bandwagon. As I said in the last blog, I’m not voting for Republicanism or McCain, I’m voting for generations of innocent children. I’m not speaking up for McCain; I’m speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves (Proverbs 31:8-9). Other special interest groups speak up for themselves—we are the only voice for God’s unborn children.

Yes, I’d rather help elect the candidate I voted for in the primaries. But now there’s only one candidate who by his judicial appointments could help save millions of babies over the next decades, long after he’s out of office. Like it or not, that’s John McCain. So Nanci’s and my votes for McCain and Palin are proxy votes for innocent unborn children.

One commenter on my last blog said, “For those of us who voted for George Bush solely based on abortion, he did NOTHING during his 8 years to end it. He wanted the Pro-life vote, but did NOT honor it with action. So, how can I believe McCain will not do the SAME thing??”

This is an argument I hear all the time. My response? It’s simply untrue. A president can’t just change laws. He doesn’t have that power. He can’t say, “Okay, abortion is no longer legal.” It doesn’t work that way. He can’t pass legislation; he can only sign or veto it.

What can he do that makes a big prolife difference? Appoint prolife judges. And that’s exactly what George Bush did. He appointed prolife federal judges, and above all he successfully nominated Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, the two youngest members of the court. They both have clear prolife convictions.

So, as popular as it is to blame George Bush for nearly everything, he actually did follow through on being a prolife president in the most important way—court appointments. If John McCain did the same, it could ultimately result in the overturning of Roe v. Wade, allowing states to decide for themselves about the legality of abortion. And it would guarantee that the Freedom of Choice Act, which Obama promises to sign, would not be signed by our president. That would not be NOTHING—it would be SOMETHING very significant.

So don’t believe the myth, reflected in a number of the comments that have come in, that McCain could do nothing to further the prolife cause anyway. He could do one thing, exactly what Bush did—appoint prolife justices. And it could ultimately have a profound effect on future law.

Pro-abortion Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens is 88 years old. Pro-abortion Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 75. Stalwart prolifer Antonin Scalia is 72. In this court, there is only a one vote difference on abortion right now. Stevens will be in his nineties two years before the next president’s first term is over. Ginsburg will be close to 80. If one or two of these pro-abortion judges retires, and they are replaced with prolife judges, the legal cause of unborn babies could be dramatically enhanced, poising the court to revisit and overturn Roe v. Wade.

If a prolife judge, e.g. Scalia, retires and is replaced by a pro-abortion judge—which will certainly happen under Obama and Biden—it could set back the civil rights of unborn children for generations, with untold deaths as a result. But if Roe v. Wade were overturned and the states could once again decide for themselves about abortion, it would open up a debate which could lead to saving the lives of countless children. Not all of them, no, but many.

Could McCain appoint a judge who isn’t prolife? Yes. But I do know this—there is a 0% chance that any prolife Supreme Court justice would be deliberately nominated by Obama and Biden.

McCain chose an outspoken prolife running mate, Sarah Palin. Now, I’m not a big Cindy McCain fan, but Palin may be the most determined and uncompromising prolife candidate ever nominated for an executive position in our country. This is a main reason she is so hated and mocked, in a way that has stunned even some secular commentators.

It is possible that the passionate prolife position of Sarah Palin, for which McCain has come to her defense, could help move him from 98% to 100% prolife. But even if it doesn’t, it could certainly be an inescapable in-house (White House) reminder that he shouldn’t consider compromising an inch in the appointment of federal and Supreme Court judges.

Another comment: “Please help me understand something. I voted for George Bush Sr., Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, twice, and there is still abortion. If they were so pro-life and the government could still not overturn Roe v. Wade then why should we continue to base our votes on this issue? I am feeling used and manipulated by my, possibly former, political party. I am prayerfully considering altering my means of selecting a candidate.”

Thanks for the question. I’ve just addressed the first part of it above. As for the rest, I sympathize with your feelings. But please don’t give up voting for prolife presidents. If John McCain did what George Bush did with judges it could make a huge difference.

If your “means of selecting a candidate” has been voting for people because of their party, I strongly suggest you forget the party, and look at the moral positions of the candidate. Not just economic policies that may or may not work, but what they believe and plan to do about the weakest and most vulnerable people in our culture. Yes, I am concerned for the poor and minorities. If John McCain advocated legalized killing of the poor and minorities I wouldn’t consider voting for him. But it is Barack Obama who advocates legalized killing of the poorest most vulnerable people in our culture, the unborn.

What will the prolife protest votes and protest abstentions against McCain accomplish? It will assure that the most radical pro-legal-abortion candidate in our history is elected. And who will pay the price? Bush? McCain? Republicans? No. Unborn children. How many we can’t be sure, but all those who might have been saved from death because abortion was less available.

Just like this commenter, many Christians feel mistreated or taken for granted by the Republican Party. Others who are enjoying the new flattery from the Democratic Party are where many were decades ago with the Republican Party, enjoying the sweet talk and thinking they weren’t being used. One day the new Democrat evangelicals will likely be disillusioned also when they count up the unkept promises and realize it was just about getting their votes. Meanwhile, any disillusionment with the Republican Party some of us are feeling pales in comparison to the suffering of unborn children. Let’s not punish politicians and parties by punishing children.

Yes, I too am a skeptic when it comes to political promises. But aren’t we all going to vote for a candidate at least partially based on what they claim to be core convictions?

I’m not voting for a candidate, I’m voting for children by proxy. If McCain were elected and children weren’t helped, I’d be truly sorry. But what’s the alternative? Helping elect someone who has promised to do what he can to make legal abortion permanent and utterly unrestricted at the state level? If John McCain didn’t keep his promises and chose judges poorly, he still would not do as much damage to the cause of unborn children as Obama has promised to do with the Freedom of Choice Act.

Nothing I have just said has anything whatsoever to do with choosing according to a political party or believing the kingdom of God rides on the shoulder of politics. It doesn’t. Certainly McCain is flawed and is no cure-all. He simply has the potential for reducing the number of children killed in our country, while his opponent—despite his words about abortion reduction—by signing FOCA would increase them.

Am I suggesting child-killing is more important than any other issue in America? Yes, I am.

Based on Scripture, show me one single thing that either candidate stands for or against that is more important than whether or not the killing of innocent children should be legal. And please, don’t start by saying, as many have, “I’m prolife, but…” and then end up with a justification for not voting in favor of saving the lives of unborn children.

If seventy years ago I were a German citizen and given a vote, imagine me saying “I’m pro-Jew, but I’m voting for the candidate who is committed to keep legal the killing of Jews; after all, I am not a single issue voter, and I think the pro-legalized-Jew-killing candidate has some good ideas and he’s cooler and more appealing than the candidate who wants Jew-killing to be illegal.”

Some object to this analogy because in Germany Jews were forcibly killed by the government, not just allowed to be killed. I don’t get that one—would it have been more noble if the German government would’ve given citizens permission to kill Jews themselves? Would it be okay for our president to say it should be legal for husbands to kill their wives, as long as the government didn’t do the actual killing, but husbands hired doctors or assassins to do it? The shedding of innocent blood is what it is, whether the government actually does it or simply says to its citizens it is their legal right to do it.

What comfort is it to people wiped out in a holocaust to be told that the government actually isn’t killing them; it’s just allowing doctors, neighbors or family members to kill them? Does the scalpel or the saline poison hurt the unborn child less because their parents weren’t forced to kill them, but were simply allowed to?

A holocaust isn’t primarily measured in terms of the motives of those who do the killing. It is measured in terms of large numbers of innocent human beings killed. I am not including here pictures of the holocaust of the unborn, but should you choose to look you’ll see they are remarkably similar to this picture of the Jewish Holocaust.

I do not want to vote for a president committed to the ongoing legal killing of the unborn for the simple reason that I don’t want to vote for a holocaust. I want to vote against a holocaust.

Some are offended by the use of the term holocaust. But if you are prolife, if you believe the unborn are precious children, full-fledged members of the human race (and if you don’t believe this, then you’re not prolife in its historic sense), then why would you balk at the term? Isn’t over forty million deaths of innocent and helpless human beings cut to pieces and burned alive sufficient to earn the label?

The words “I’m prolife” do not magically compensate for helping elect a candidate who has vowed to defend the legalized killing of children, which is in fact to perpetuate a holocaust. And as for the single issue, doesn’t it depend on what that issue is? Offshore drilling, immigration or tax reform may be important, but they are not the same as whether it should be legal to kill innocent people. Shouldn’t all holocausts outweigh all non-holocausts? I confess to being a single issue voter when it comes to holocausts.

I wish McCain were 100% prolife instead of 98%. But he is not Rudy Giuliani, Joe Biden or Barack Obama. McCain has openly stated that he favors the overturning of Roe v. Wade, while these others have adamantly defended Roe v. Wade. This is why McCain and Palin are not merely disliked, but hated by the pro-abortion lobby. Doesn’t that tell you something? When the enemies of life are committed to defeating someone, isn’t that a good test of whether they are—at least for the most part—advocates of life?

By voting for McCain am I compromising? Yes. But I don’t hold a presidential candidate to the same standards I would hold a pastor of my church. Is there pragmatism involved? Sure. Some compromise and some pragmatism is wrong, some is right. I believe that in these circumstances, with what’s at stake in this election, it’s right. As James 1 says, we should ask God for wisdom to know his mind on this. But when you do, please don’t neglect what he has already said about the shedding of innocent blood.

Is there a time when it is possible to use your vote not so much for a person, but against an issue that you believe to be unbridled evil? If so, isn’t legalized child-killing such an issue? In this case is it possible to say, “Lord, I am voting against the candidate who supports the legalized killing of the 100% of those whose parents elect abortion; the only way I can do that effectively is to vote for a man who on this sacred issue is 98% right and two percent wrong. I grieve the two percent, but I am voting for the 98%; you know my heart, please bless this vote as an expression of my desire to honor you.”

This is what I’m doing. I’m not voting for a man, I’m voting for the best possible outcome for those who are the Jews and slaves of our day. And I am voting against the worst possible outcome.

On election day I wish I could do more. And I am deeply grateful there’s much I can do in life, outside the voting booth, to help the cause of the unborn.

May God have mercy on us. And may we, in our hearts and actions—including our votes—have mercy on the smallest and weakest of God’s precious children.

Rescue those being led away to death;
hold back those staggering toward slaughter.

If you say, "But we knew nothing about this,"
does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who guards your life know it?
Will he not repay each person according to what he has done? (Proverbs 24:11-12)

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Lord, open the eyes of our nation. Forgive us for what we have been blind to, been complacent about, chosen to remain ignorant of, not stood up against. Have mercy on us, even though we have not shown mercy to the littlest of your children. Stir our hearts to action, our voices to rise up against evil.

"...that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd. They've refused for so long to deal with God that they've lost touch not only with God but with reality itself." -Ephesians 4:17-18
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Monday, October 27, 2008

NaBloPoMo '08

It's that time of year again. The time where I join the ranks of NaBloPoMo bloggers around the world and vow to post every day for the month of November. Pumpkin guts. Life lessons. Mouse cupcakes. All subjects are up for grabs.

Two years ago I succeeded, as can be found in my previous-blogging-life archives.

Last year I fell off the wagon because we went out of town.

This year we will again be going out of town (Bay Area for Thanksgiving), but I will NOT be deterred!

NaBloPoMo, here I come... in a few days.

Want to join me? Just visit NaBloPoMo.com, sign up, and get on the blogroll. C'mon! It's more fun to endure pain with others than by myself.
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Friday, October 24, 2008

My Attempt

I'm trying to clean out the pantry. Not clean as in CLEAN, (like that would ever happen... unless there were ants... which there were last spring... so it did happen), but clean as in using-up-non-perishable-food-stuffs-that-have-followed-us-from-house-to-house-over-the-years.

The definition of the word non-perishable has come into question here.

We just have a lot of things floating around in our pantry that have kept us company for a very long time. You totally know what I'm taking about. They're usually smaller, packaged things that hide out in the dark recesses of places you don't tend to reach back into. (i.e. behind the spices, or buried under the various tea boxes I keep on the third shelf) Once in a while they'll pop their heads out if I rummage around enough. I'll think, "Hey! It's that chili mix from 2003! I should use that!" Then I stack everything back up and it goes unnoticed for another nine months.

So, I'm trying to clean it out.

There's some statistic cooking and household magazines use to make us feel really guilty. Something like, "You could feed a family of six gourmet five course meals for 142 days with whatever you have in your pantry when YOU think you need to go grocery shopping."

Okay, so maybe it's not that extreme, but seriously. You get the point. Their trick works and we feel guilty. (However, I did NOT ever feel guilty when they said I could save landfills X amount of waste by using cloth diapers. I'll let someone else feel guilty about that one and start washing out poop filled rags in the toilet. Blech.)

(Is this where I get angry comments from mothers who use cloth diapers? Probably. But please know that I have the utmost respect for you and what you do. It is something my gag reflex and I choose to not do. I'm very proud of you.)

Back to the pantry...

The other afternoon I put the makings for spaghetti on the counter so I would not rush in the door after football-soccer-home to change-soccer and forget what it was I would bless my family with for dinner. A-HA! The cowboy boot chili mix! Let's face it, I would never actually USE the spicy chili packet to make chili, but the boot shaped pasta was so cute! (Yes, there was boot shaped pasta with the chili mix.) See, you thought I was joking about the 2003 thing. Nope. We were given this in a house-warming basket when we bought our first home back in Denver. I'm sure they tacked the price of the gift onto our mortgage somewhere, so I wasn't just going to throw it away. I still have the black bean chili mix, too, if you're wondering.

Oh, I was so creative. It stretched the spaghetti. It made for a fun, colorful, festive plate of pasta. The kids were curious, "Mom, what IS that?" Yes, they showed their appreciation so much. As did my husband, "Babe, please don't ever do that again."

I am a creative and resourceful homemaker, and my family recognizes and is thankful for that.

Yesterday morning I made chocolate/raspberry coffee, of which the expiration date eludes me. I think it's made at least one move with us, and has just always been there between the tea and apple cider box (in which we keep all sorts of things other than apple cider) to greet me. The beauty of the microwave is that I'm also drinking it right now, as I type this. (Coffee experts of the world are horrified that I would drink the same coffee from the same pot two days in a row. I think my record may be four. *gasp*) It may taste a little bitter. That had been my fear, which is why I never made it for my Tuesday morning small group. (Ann, are you thanking me right now? Except that it's strong, so you would probably have liked it. If you come over today there's one more cup in the pot. If not, I'll drink it tomorrow morning.)

So, my foray into helping the environment and economy by being resourceful with things I already have is a great success. And, although it really does nothing for either of them, I feel better about saying that. Especially since I'm lying about the great success part. Maybe mediocre success? Well, I've created more space in the pantry, at any rate. Sheesh.

What's in YOUR pantry that you keep forgetting about? Come on. I KNOW someone can outdo my 2003 chili mix. (We also have slurpee mixes from 2000.)
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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Works For Me Wednesday: Calendar Organization


Now, you all know I'm not the most organized person. I have never espoused my organization skills, and on any gifting test I have ever taken administration is next to last, right above leadership. (It never ceases to amuse that God put me in charge of a team of people and said, "Okay. Now go lead worship!" This seems like it would require both leadership AND administration *read: organization.* He is super funny like that. Yay for that whole scripture thing about Him using us in our weaknesses and whatnot.)

So, I cannot take credit for this Calendar idea. Somewhere many years ago, during our time in Montana, I must have come across some article that changed my organizational life ever so hugely. At that time we had two toddlers and a wee one, and my calendar was becoming a mass of scribbled black pen.

(Here is where one would say... in fact, many have said... use your computer! I know. I'm antiquated in sticking with the old-fashioned paper month-to-month calendar. Something about being able to just glance at it on my countertop... or the fact that my mom always had one...)

The tip is this: Use a different color pen for each person in your family. That way, when you glance at the calendar for a certain child's doctor's appointment/sporting event/field trip, your eye is immediately drawn to just their activities. Basically, instead of a mass of scribbled black pen, my calendar is now a mass of scribbled colored pen. SOOOO... not only does it keep me more sane when trying to see who has what activity when, it also brings more cheer into my life! Wow. Double WFMW whammy. Yes, I'm THAT good.

Each child has their favorite color. This also helps them pick out their own activities, lessening the, "Mom! When do I have *fill in the blank* again?" (Note: I said lessening, not eliminating.) Taylor is blue, Jordan is orange, Brit is pink, and Ian is green. I went with red. Family activities are in black, which happens to also be Nate's color. He doesn't have many of his own activities, and when he does we all come anyway. Poor man.

This tip works extra well on Saturdays when all four children have soccer games at different times/fields.

As for the pens themselves, I've found those multi-colored packs of fine tipped ones work best (0.3mm) because the small tip makes for neater, smaller writing... which makes for more space on your calendar. Pure genius, I know. You can get them at Michaels in the drafting section. It makes me feel all important and smart sounding when I say they're made to be used by architects. (But remember to clip that twice monthly newspaper coupon before you go in.)

Because I know posts are always better with photos, I will show you our September. Yes, there are spills. Yes, there is whiteout. Yes, I have not-too-great handwriting. Yes, sometimes I grab a regular blue ball point pen. But, I'm just a glutton for making public my cobwebs and general messiness. Then again, we're all normal. We just try to hide most of the time behind the Miss Almost-Perfect mask.




To check out more awesome Works For Me Wednesday tips visit Rocks In My Dryer.
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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Ten on Tuesday

1. I'm still grieving over our nation's great loss. But I made a run on them at Albertson's, so I'm at least being comforted in my grief.

2. Today is Jordan's 10th birthday. I can't believe I now have TWO children old enough to have military ID cards.

3. I make a mean cake. That's right. I'm totally bragging.

4. Did you know that the 99 cents store has upped it's price to 99.9 cents? Yes. It's still called the 99 cents store, but I'll be paying just a tad more for my large box of Gobstoppers and good-tasting-but-not-good-looking fruit. Blame the economy.

5. Gas stations have always tacked on an extra 00.9 cents. What's THEIR excuse?

6. Do other people use Cake Flour when they bake cakes? It's supposed to make them lighter and fluffier. Red Velvet calls for it, but not Hershey's 5 Minute Chocolate Cake. I don't always think it's do-or-die necessary, but somehow husbands do. Well, at least one husband does. I tend to opt for the so-heavy-you-know-it's-dripping-with-sugar kinds of cakes.

7. I also prefer buttercream over whipped cream. It's that heavy thing again. (Man, opposites do attract.)

8. I've lost five pounds in the past month. Not that I need to lose five pounds, but I think it's because I stopped drinking anything carbonated... for the time being. And not that the minus-five-pounds thing is worth giving up carbonation altogether. I'm just saying it's an interesting correlation.

9. Why do I even bother to label my posts? You know, those little links at the bottom of each post that are like subject tags? I don't show them in my sidebar, and I really have way too many. It's hard to remember what kind of post goes with what tag. But I'm not sure I can delete a tag once I've added it to the bottom of a post. It just remains in my "posting options" thingy at the bottom of my post draft page. I mean, in a perfect world one would happen upon my page and enjoy a post so much that they click on the tag at the bottom of said post to be taken to other posts of the same subject. Subjects such as Sassy Shoe Thursday and Crazy World. But often I'm just left wondering if I put posts about Jordan under "Jordan" or "kids" or "life" or "everyday life." Because I've forgotten that I've already created the tag "life," so I create a new tag called "everyday life." And then I don't know how to delete either. Or maybe I forgot to tag a post at all. Quite confusing.

10. Sometimes each of these numbers in a Ten on Tuesday post could be a post in and of itself. I'm now going to go frost a mean cake...
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Monday, October 20, 2008

No More Mother's Cookies


This cannot be happening! I can't believe I didn't hear it before now! (Thanks to the ever-vigilant Bethany for the heads up.)

Total devastation. My world is in upheaval. How could a staple of American culture simply no longer exist? Stop being made? This is a sad, sad time in history. I mean, we already know that. But this is just the icing on the... cookie.

Mother's frosted, lovely, perfectly pink and white Circus Animal cookies have long been a love of mine. High school youth group trips always found me with a bag of those and a Clearly Canadian. I used to ask for these, and get them, on my birthday. A few years ago I went through a spell where my pantry was never without an open bag. Never.

Alas, no longer.

If your heart is breaking with me, you can buy this commemorative t-shirt (I would wear a medium, hint, hint).

An awful, awful time in history.

(Nate is stopping by the grocery store on his way home. There better darn well be some left on the shelf.)
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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Must See

Democrat. Republican. Independent. We all uphold the Constitution of the United States. You must take eleven minutes and watch this video. You absolutely must.



(If it turns out to be a non-issue, then it's a non-issue. But there needs to be a conclusive answer.)
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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day 2008: Poverty

My oldest shoves a Big Mac in his mouth while listening to his iPod and watching a movie on the drop down dvd player in our Suburban as we shuttle him from school to football to soccer to band practice. You would think he knows nothing of poverty, of reaching those who don't have, who can't have, who won't have.

Except that he has a picture of Leah on his bathroom mirror, and another one up on our fridge. He prays for her. He is excited to get her letters in the mail, hear what she is learning, find out what chores and activities she does with her family. His is shocked that Leah and her friends probably do not have legos, and he is more thankful for the ones he has. He is shocked that kids where Leah lives are waiting for someone to sponsor them so they can go to school and have an education. He is thankful that he is getting an education, even though it can be hard and tiring at times.

My other three children have pictures of their kids up on their mirrors, too. "Mom, I wonder what Onesmo wants for Christmas?" was the thought that came from my youngest just the other day.

Fighting poverty begins with not just realizing it exists, and not just with doing something about it. It begins with us educating our children, exposing them, teaching them, showing them what they can do to help. We can do our part to reach people suffering around the world, but if we don't teach our children, our part will stop when we stop. It will pass when we pass.

Sponsoring a child through Compassion International gives that child a chance at life. But when you involve your children, it gives them a chance to give life.

By ourselves we cannot change the world, but we can change someone's world.

Sponsor a child online through Compassion's Christian child sponsorship ministry. Search for a child by age, gender, country, birthday, special needs and more.




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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tomorrow, join the conversation.


Tomorrow is Blog Action Day 2008, where thousands of bloggers join in a global conversation about things affecting our world. This year's topic is poverty. Stop back by to see what I have to say about it, then blog hop to read what other bloggers are contributing. If you would like your own blog to join in the conversation, or to find out more about Blog Action Day, visit blogactionday.org.
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Friday, October 10, 2008

(If Animal Planet isn't x-rated...

...then this post isn't, either.)

Brittney came home from school the other day with two ladybugs. She had carried them on her hand all the way on the bus, on the walk home, and now into our kitchen.

Brit: "Mom! Look! They're stuck together! See? And the one on top keeps wiggling around. They won't come apart! What are they doing?"

Wise older brother, Taylor, answers before I can: "They're mating."

Brit: "They're what?"

Taylor: "Mating. So they can have babies."

Brit. "Oh. Which one is the boy ladybug?"

Taylor: "The one on top."

Brit: "Why is he shaking sometimes?"

Me, cutting off an educated-by-Animal-Planet-and-Discovery-Channel Taylor: "Well, that's just what boy ladybugs do."

Ian: "Cool!"

Funny how we never really go looking for these conversations, they just have a way of finding us. Thankyouverymuchladybugs. And, of course, seizing the moment... I run for my camera.

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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Sassy Shoe Thursday: The Gift

It was going to be an awesome weekend, anyway. Great girlfriends. Shopping our way to LA. An amazing conference. What more could you ask for?

Well, you know my answer to that: shoes. You can always ask for shoes.

I had never... are you ready for this... I had never been to a DSW. I KNOW! I KNOW! I was in somewhat close proximity to one in Denver, but whenever I went to that area of town I spent all my time at the mall and Nordstrom Rack. Well, on our beloved girlie trip last month I finally crossed the threshold of this beloved place.

Wasting no time with regular priced articles, we headed straight for the sale rack. It was at the end of my second aisle that I spotted them. The tag. The platform. The straps. The price.

As I slipped it on my foot I wondered if I would be Cinderella or the Stepsister. Alas, it fit! Albeit, minus the ball gown. But these call for an edgier approach anyway.

I paced the floor in front of the mirror. The usual, "I love them! I'm not sure. Girls? What do you think? Good? Yes? No? Hmmm. They're awesome! But, I'm not sure. Girls?"

After much assurance that I would be strung up on the next tree we found if I didn't buy them, I floated around the rest of the store with my gift in hand. Yes, floated.

I say gift because they weren't 100% necessary. They weren't going to save the world. Maybe save a little of MY world, (this was shortly after The Great Loss), but not THE world. Yet, they came along anyway. God knew exactly what would lift my heart and make it soar. And it's so awesome that He doesn't overlook the details! Nay. Details are His specialty. And He brought along the perfect shoes at the perfect price for the perfect weekend...

...just because He loves me. So intimately. (Check out the tag. He does take special care, yes?)

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I needed some laughter today

I posted this a while back. (It's somewhere in my archives, but I'm not going to take the time to find and link it right here so I look official and tech-savvy. You'll just have to trust me that I'm official, and, well... I won't lie on the tech-savvy part.) I wanted to laugh today, and I bet you do, too. Even if you've watched this before, watch it again! You deserve the break.

Momsense:


Since then she has, in fairness, developed Dadsense:
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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Ten on Tuesday

1. My floor is dirty. It's always dirty. I'm not complaining, just simply stating a fact. Always. Dirty.

2. Has anyone checked out my sidebar lately? I think a roomba is still over there. Hmmm... yes. Yes, it is.

3. Hey! Christmas is coming! Can you believe it's nearly the middle of OCTOBER? Oct-stinking-ober. (That's the correct pronunciation, in case you were wondering.) I don't know what it was about #2 on this list that made me think of Christmas.

4. My Tuesday morning group is doing the Boundaries study. Ohmygosh, it is SO incredibly good. Almost overwhelming because of all the amazing information. If you're doing a small group and wondering what curriculum to use, this is the one. Yessiree. But be sure to get the Participant's Guide, too. EVERYONE can benefit immENsely from this!!! (It's also just in regular old book form, too.)

5. Fish aren't snuggly. Has anyone else noticed this? Choppy is cute, but I cannot snuggle him. He does not come and cuddle me on the couch. He doesn't curl up by my feet. He doesn't sit in the sunshine of the upstairs landing while I fold laundry. He's a good fish, but he isn't snuggly. I guess I could TRY to snuggle him.

6. Hey! Christmas is coming! (Something about #5 must have reminded me.)

7. I paid a visit to the orthodontist today with my firstborn. I have thought about this many times before, but today reminded me again. Two of the things I am most thankful to my parents for: 1-College was NEVER NOT an option, and 2-braces.

8. Yes, Taylor's going to follow in his parents' footsteps and need some major work done. We need wisdom whether to start the process now or to wait and see how things develop.

9. Our absentee ballots came in the mail yesterday. Usually we wait until the last minute to send them in just because we forget, life is busy, etc. But these will be sent back this week.

10. That reminds me. I need to pick up that yard sign.
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Monday, October 6, 2008

Credit where credit is due...

This morning was the usual tug of war to get a five year old out of bed, dressed, teeth brushed and ready in time to get to the bus stop with his three siblings.


Ian: Cry. Whine. "I'm coooooold!" "I'm tiiiiiiired!" "I caaaaaan't!"


Me: "Yes, you can. Don't say, 'I can't.' That's not allowed anymore. No more, 'I can't.'"


Ian: Quiet whimpering. Pause. "It's impossible!"


Well, I have to give him credit. He didn't say, "I can't."
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Friday, October 3, 2008

God of this City

So. Much. Going. On. No. Time. To. Type.

In the meantime, listen to this. What a declaration! Especially after last night's debates... (We're introducing it this weekend in worship.)

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