Monday, March 31, 2008

"Gotcha Day"

Our Ladies Bible study meets tomorrow, and while I usually have my homework done the week before I am a little behind. We are studying the "Fingerprints of God", a study that is designed to make us more aware of God's daily touch in our lives. In this week's study Jennifer Rothschild talks about a "gotcha day." Since I have been involved in the adoption community for the last thirteen years I understood what she meant by that.

Many people not only celebrate their adopted child's birthday but also they day the child joined the family. We have not chosen to celebrate the "gotcha day" in our home for a couple of reasons. First, we brought David home from the hospital when he was one day old so he has really been ours his whole life. We could have started a "gotcha day" on the day the adoption was finalized, but since we have always thought of this as more of a legal and not a "heart" date we haven't made a big fuss about it.

Secondly, what if we had biological children to follow and just stopped "gotcha day"? This could be more harmful than good or if "gotcha day" continued it could make the other children feel less important. I also have bristled at the name "gotcha day" it just made me think of "the day we got the car or the new house"—more of a possesion than anything. I know others may feel differently and I can see why they may have chosen to celebrate it.

While Mrs. Rothschild is not adopted, she does use this in reference to the day she was saved and God "got her." The same bristling came back to me, I have this image of God chasing after us on the playground and saying "gotcha." Not my image of God. But she then goes on to say, "I felt God's redeeming touch on me as He gently pulled me close to His heart and made me His very own." Now this is more like it.

This week's study goes on to show us the "before" and "after" we become Christians. She uses Galatians 2:21–3:5 to show that "When we live by a law of our own making, we procalim a hidden belief that, as nice as He is, we really don't need God. Rather than relying on our own effort we must each courageously place our life alongside the biblical standard of believing God." This pushes us farther from God.

The "after" picture shows that when we become His adopted children we automatically inherit all rights into the family's estate.

Just like David didn't work to become our son, we don't work to become sons and daughters of God. And when David doesn't follow our "laws" he doesn't lose membership in our family and we don't question if he truly is a member. Nothing he does will change his membership in our family.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Psalm 32:7

You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah

Saturday, March 29, 2008

A Snapshot or a Movie?

For years we searched for the right medication and dosage for our son's many issues. Some doctors say "There are no issues," since they would see him for a total of five well-behaved minutes. Some would excuse his behavior by saying "all children do that," and, while that may be true, in our son's case it was always to the extreme.

Some would say that if we were just firm enough he would get in line, others said we were too firm ... and on and on it went. When we did get doctors to listen, it seemed to get one thing solved it would throw something else out of whack.

Doctors tend to want to change medications and dosages at a very slow rate, then track results and check blood levels. While this is a wise approach, it can be too slow when a family is in crisis. So when the point came and we were faced with having to place our son in a treatment center in order to maintain a safe environment in our home, we began to interview centers. The center we choose explained they felt they could help where others hadn't because they would see "the movie" and not the "snapshot" of our son. All the others had caught a glimpse of our lives, not what it was like at 2:00am trying to calm an out-of-control child. Or how he interacted with other children his own age, both in a structured setting and at play. This would give them a chance to see him at all times and see the severity of and causes for his behavior. This would also give them the chance to make quicker changes in his meds, and monitor the changes in a more controlled environment. This made lots of sense.

But, I think we have to be careful that we while we read blogs and web-sites and feel we are getting "movies" of the person writing the blog, we are actually getting "snapshots." It is a glimpse into that person's life, which may be real or not. The perfect coiffed mother of of three may be a middle-aged man in real life. Even this mother of one doesn't show you a "movie" of my life. You don't see the me that stumbles out of bed to brush my stinky teeth in the morning (and you should really thank me for that!) Even though our neighbors will get a "time-lapse movie" of who we are, which gives them a better picture of us, they still don't get the entire picture.

Most will blog about the better parts of their lives, but that is not always the case. That means we are not getting the whole person. One person I know is warm and fuzzy in person, but when you go to her blog you will find a very judgmental "better-than-you" attitude. So while I like to make friends and visit my friends on our blogs we must always know that is just a "snapshot" and not a "movie" of their lives, and in some cases it may even be an illusion.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Free Labor

Today was such a glorious day and there was so much yard work to be done that we felt it was a great day to start. I raked up lots of leaves that fell since the fall, while I had David bag them up. Next our good friend Dan was delivering a couple loads of much-needed mulch to the church playground and he offered to take us to get a load of mulch for our yard. Since we don't have a truck this was a wonderful offer!

Next is a trip to our friend Peg's to get plant and flower clippings for the front of the house. Peg is always so willing to share the product of her green thumb with those around her. I recently found out that many of the plants that have grown in her garden were originally cuttings from her mother's garden.

We have also had alot of strong winds recently which have resulted in tree branches and twigs littering the yard. Since we have a "man's grill" which uses wood we will keep the larger branches for cooking out.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

A Lovely Addition

Last night as my wonderful friend and Creative Memories consultant Leslie Hawkins delivered my order, she brought me gifts!! She knows me so well that after filling my Memory Maker card she brought over my free gift. She of course gave me the opportunity to order a different one, but she had picked out just what I would have. It's a cute little frame called "mini everyday display." It's perfect for my kitchen, the frame is black and since my kitchen is red, black and white it goes perfectly. Of course if that wasn't great enough she also brought me gifts from a contest- little red magnetic hearts for the frame (again my kitchen color) and stickers. This will hold my menu list for the week perfectly and a message board or reminder board for the family. I had been looking for something to fill this spot and now problem solved. Thank You Leslie!!!

My Mini Everyday Display
One of the things I love about Leslie is that while many of her customers attend our church she isn't there as a salesperson. We have attended churches where I felt that the only reason certain members were attending was to make a sale. One woman would greet each new visitor with "Hi, I'm _____ and I sell Creative Memories." She also once stated that she was the church's consultant, when there were actually two others I knew of that sold the same thing.

Once she even held a workshop during church hours and invited church members. She also liked to pressure people, like asking at least once a month, if they would be consultants under her. She once complained that she had asked that of three people who then became consultants under other people. I wonder why? I know I wouldn't want her always telling me how I needed to sell more.

Also for anyone not up on what Creative Memories is doing—they are changing their album sizes. If you've ever used their 12 x 12 pages and tried to use 12 x 12 paper you know that the paper is wider than the pages. So this year they are fazing out the current pages and putting out what they call True 12 x 12 albums and pages.

So make sure if you have any albums you still need to complete, or were given an album you just haven't gotten to that you purchase the pages before they are dicontinued. Those sized pages will not be around for much longer. So if you need to order something to complete those albums and don't have a consultant check out Leslie's site.

Leslie also has a great log sheet that can be used to figure out what albums still need to be completed before the pages are gone.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Kids Serving Christ

Our pastor's wife, Angela, came up with a program called "Kids serving Christ," which we began last year. It's a wonderful program that incorporates learning Bible verses and Bible stories that teach the kids about service to others. The classes range in age from 2- to 10-years old, and each week they "adopt a saint." The saints are usually older people in the church or are home-bound. Sometimes the saint is able to come and speak to the children and the children are given the opportunity to ask questions of the saint. This has brought a sweet fellowship between the oldest and youngest members of our church.

Each week the classes complete a craft geared for their age. The crafts sometimes are saved for gift baskets that are distributed at Easter and Christmas to our adopted saints. Sometimes the craft is sent home and the children are encouraged to give theirs to others (a neighbor or clerk at the store.)

We often only serve our children, thereby depriving them of the joy of serving others. It also tends to give them a feeling of entitlement. They are the future of our churches and we need to start preparing them at a young age to teach them service to God and others.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Doctor, Doctor

Since Friday our family has spent almost as much time at immediate care centers, doctor's offices, labs and pharmacies as we have at home.

Yikes! Are you going to stick me?"
First Rich's leg was enflamed and in pain Thursday evening. He was running a high-grade fever and experiencing uncontrollable shivering. The next morning it was even worse. So we went to the immediate care office, who sent him to have some tests run. It was a bad infection. The last time he had this he was hospitilized for a week, so we were very concerned.

They put him on several medications and we were instructed to return on Saturday to determine if he would need to be hospitalized. Luckily on Saturday the white cell count had dropped in half (bringing it to within acceptable levels.) We were then told to see a regular doctor on Monday. The appointment on Monday went well and Rich is getting better. But, he must return in six weeks for a follow-up. After each appointment it was back to the pharmacy to get more medications.

See, Mom, No grimace!

Unfortunetly, while at the immediate care office on Friday, Rich was made to remove his pants and we went to another office in a different part of the building. (Don't worry, he was wearing the cutest paper shorts!) We were out of the room for about 45 minutes to an hour. When Rich checked his wallet later he found that his money was missing. He was in so much pain that we never thought about the wallet when we left the room. So we have reported the theft to the police and to the medical office, with really no hope for return of the funds.

All done
Then I had to take David to have blood drawn to make sure his medication is not causing damage. David has never been good at having needles poking him. When he was just 9 months old and getting a shot, he pulled the needle out and tried to stab the nurse. When he was seven and hospitlized they tried to take his blood. After having to chase him down for 5 days and never getting a blood sample they decided to break regulations and allow me to accompany him to the lab. He sat on my lap and they had no problems, the nurse said she wished they had been allowed to call earlier because she didn't think they would ever be able to get the sample. As you can see he has gotten much better—no running and screaming and no sitting on mom's lap.

Monday, March 24, 2008

New Anne Perry Book

Tomorrow I will be heading to the bookstore to get Anne Perry's latest installment in her Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series. Anne Perry [Anne Perry-Wikipedia] writes mystery novels set in Victorian England—a favorite time period for me. There are two series of books—The Monk Series and The Pitt Series. I love the way that Ms. Perry can take me back into the Victorian era and I can picture the sights and sounds of the times. While the imagery is no less vivid in the Monk series, I have to admit the Pitt series books are my favorite. Ms. Perry has also written a series of World War I books, but I have not been able to immerse myself in the characters or times.

Buckingham Palace Gardensis the latest addition to the Pitt series. I have followed the series from the first book, when Charlotte first meets Thomas Pitt. The books depict all levels of Victorian Society, from the poor living on the street to the highest in the land. In this book The Prince of Wales becomes involved in the mystery (or so the reports say.)

Since the series starts with Charlotte as a young upper-class daughter, you can see many practices of the times and the running of a Victorian era household to her growth into a woman who is allowed to grow and eventually even gets involved in her husband's cases. Her background and the fact that she is a woman allows her access that is denied her husband.

There are many nights that I stayed up half the night since I just had to find out what happens next. So, I do believe I will be up a bit late tomorrow night.

If you intend to indulge in a little murder and mayhem, I would suggest starting out with the early books in the series. This will prevent learning life-altering changes revealed in later books.

Learn more about Ms. Perry's books and each series.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter

This sign appeared at a local bakery last Easter.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Easter Egg Hunt

Today our church held an Easter egg hunt for the little ones. Even though David is too big to participate, we went to see all the fun. It was a wonderful time for the whole family, many stayed after the hunt to have a picnic lunch. Grandparents, parents and children all had a great time of fellowship.

While there Mrs. Wilt said she really wanted a birds nest like the one my son found last year. I just happened to know where there was one left from last spring. We enlisted my husband's help in retrieving it from the tree.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Why Good Friday?

When I was about sixteen years old my father came to me asking why the Friday prior to Easter is called "Good Friday" if that's the day when Christ was crucified. My father is unsaved and generally doesn't ask about spiritual things, so this question really floored me. It was a question I had never heard asked before. As I put my thoughts together to give him an answer to a question that I had never been given an answer to, I also wondered why me? Why would he ask me, not my mother or older brother who were both Christians as well.

© 2007 Richard D. Gelina
I believe there were two reasons for his coming to me. First, we had always been close, but the second reason I think comes closer to the heart. He resists the hard-sell tactics. He wanted an answer to a legitimate question without feeling like he would be harassed into making an immediate decision about salvation. I explained that I had no "official" answer as to why it is called Good Friday, but my belief was that if Christ had not died on the cross for our sins and arose three days later no one would be able to go to heaven. All of us have sinned and none of us can achieve salvation without the sacrificial gift of God's perfect son. If there were no Good Friday (Death) then there would be no Easter (Resurrection). I asked if there were any other questions he had or anything he wanted to talk about. He said no, but he had always wondered.

After a little research I have found that some say it was the sacrifice of Jesus and other say that "Good" also means "Holy."

Dad is still not saved, but is now attending church most Sundays. He is more open to the gospel and we are praying for his acceptance of the sacrifice that Christ made on the cross.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Every Morning Breakfast

Last week I made Sausage Stuffed Biscuit with Gravy from my Sandra Lee cookbook. After breakfast David asked if we could eat this every morning for breakfast. Of course, the answer was no. Then he requested that we eat it at least four times a week. So I made it again this morning to much acclaim.

Sausage Stuffed Biscuits with Gravy
  • 1 package (6-pack) brown and serve sausage patties
  • 2-1/4 cups baking mix (like Bisquick)
  • 3/4 cup milk, plus more for brushing
  • 6 tablespoons cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 package (2.64 oz) country gravy mix
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 cups water
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line 6-muffin tin with liners.

In a medium skillet, brown sausage patties on both sides. Remove from skillet and reserve drippings. In a medium bowl, stir together baking mix and milk to a soft dough consistency. Divide dough into 12 equal pieces. Flatten dough into disks. Line the bottom of each muffin cup with one dough disk.

Place sausage patty on top of each disk and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of cheese. Top with another dough disk and press the edges together to seal. Repeat to make 6 stuffed biscuits. Brush tops of biscuits with milk and bake in preheated over for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.

Meanwhile, over medium heat, add gravy mix and garlic powder to skillet with reserved drippings. Slowly whisk in water. Continue to stir until gravy thickens.
Remove Biscuits from the oven and cool for 5 minutes. Serve warm gravy over stuffed biscuits.

This is the way the recipe is given in Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Cooking 3. But, I have found that my baking tin must be a little smaller so I buy the 8 pack sausage and make 16 dough disks instead of 12. So I end up with 8 biscuits.

I am planning to take this to our Easter Sunday fellowship at church (so Mrs. Wilt don't even think about it! LOL) I plan to make some sausage biscuits and another batch with bacon on the inside. I won't be making gravy since I don't think it would stay as tasty if not served fresh.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Forgotten Commandments

While I was speaking with a friend this weekend, I relayed the reason Rich and I are so opposed to using scriptures to support our own personal standards.

Growing up, we attended a very conservative church that held many of these "extra commandments." Some standards were written—such as:

  • no alcohol (even for medical purposes)
  • no background tapes when singing special music in church
  • all church music must be limited to the songs contained in the church-approved hymnal
  • all church music must be presented the way it was arranged in the church-approved hymnal
  • church music could be played only on non-electric instruments (except the organ, which apparently had a special dispensation)
While there were no verses used to set these standards they were actually written into the church constitution.

However, the unwritten rules were just as important and enforced as the written "commandments." I Corinthians 6:19-20 was used to cover a multitude of (supposed) sins: "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body."

Standards such as:
  • skirts must fall below the knee
  • men's and boy's hair must not touch the eyebrows or the ears and must be tapered in the back so as not to touch the collar
  • no tattoes
  • no piercings
  • no dancing (with anyone including by yourself—some were even reprimanded for tapping their toes during the hymns
  • no coloring of your hair
  • no going to movies or live performances in a theater
  • no listening to contemporary music (even in your own home)
What I often found offensive was that this set of verses was usually employed by obesely overwieght adults. Isn't overeating and becoming obese misuse of the temple of God? Makeup that can be seen was also a big no-no. You could wear make-up, but only if no one could tell that you were wearing any.

I have also found several people that hold firm on a single issue (i.e.,can't let a boy and girl hold hands until after their marriage) have something in their background that they are ashamed of that is related to this issue. One woman I knew watched her daughter, carefully making sure that she wasn't even allowed in a room alone with a boy. Later it came out that the mother became pregnant out of wedlock. Another woman made her toddler wear very long dresses (for modesty's sake) that the daughter had a hard time learning to walk (the toddler kept stepping on the front of the dress). It was discovered later that the married mother was carrying on an affair with a co-worker. Another person I knew required her school-aged child to wear calf length dresses. This child had been born out of wedlock.

I believe these people are truly trying to save others from the same sins and fate that they have experienced. The problem is that many of these people demand this standard from others and often transfer their own past thoughts and actions on others. Maybe, due to embarrassment, don't want others to know what skeletans are in their closet.

Some who have gotten tattooes as young adults later regret them and will now use this as a standard. One person I know is passionately against all alcohol use due to an abusive alcoholic father.

We need to remember the Bible also teaches moderation in all things. Going to see "Meet the Robinsons" at the theater is not the same as seeing an X-rated movie. Our personal policy is that if I wouldn't see it in the privacy of my own home I won't see it in the theater.

Many of these issues are held in higher esteem than the actual commandments. At least they are talked about more. Is this because these folks don't have to convince me the Bible teaches "Thou shall have no other gods before me"—while they do have to convince me that the Bible teaches "Thou shalt not wear a blouse with two buttons unbottoned at the neck." Are we placing these personal crusading issues as gods? Our actions should be an outworking of our relationship with God and not a way to a relationship with God.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Getting Ready For Spring

Tying the tire swing
This weekend David showed his desire for spring by asking us to put up a tire swing. We had one up last year, but we took it down so we could move it closer to the house. Now I can watch him swing as I look out the kitchen window. It is also next to the back patio, so it should get even more use this year.



David and Rich had a wonderful time, even in the rain, putting the swing up. David was falling down in gales of laughter as they tried to get the rope over the limb. They used a brick to throw the rope over the limb and you guessed it—it got stuck. After much gentle tugging it came down, without injury to anyone. Before you knew it David was doing tricks on the swing.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Robert Frost

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

—Robert Frost

Saturday, March 15, 2008

I Do Not Think That Means What You Think It Means

The title of my post is a quote from "The Princess Bride," a movie with many fine quotes. But this is also very appropriate for a sign I saw posted on another blog, Your Sacred Calling. The sign was a NO GOSSIP ZONE. The blog author states that she has had problems with people gossiping on her site and due to this she would not post any comments that were of the gossip nature. I can fully understand this and though I had never had this problem on my site, I wanted to read what she had to say, in case I ever had the same problem. When reading the following as the reason for this, I was very confused.

The statement reads:
Basking in the glow of the computer screen, self-appointed zealots feel free to make mincemeat out of their “opponents,” slicing and dicing with abandon. Sadly, even professed Christians participate in this kind of slug-fest, showing little grace to other believers who don’t agree with their beliefs. It’s one thing to disagree with what people have said or written, but crusades and cabals to destroy other people are not within the realm of Christian possibility thinking.

She then reinforces her point by backing it up with Titus 3:10: "Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned."

My mind raced. Weren't we talking about gossip? Am I wrong in thinking the Biblical meaning of gossip is being a talebearer? Are divisive and gossip the same thing? Romans 1:28-31 tell us that "debased minds are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents."

So, "full of strife" and "gossip" are listed seperately. But often society changes the meaning of words, so I checked the Merriam-Webster dictionary for their meanings:

First here's the definition of gossip:

1 adialect British : godparent b: companion, crony c: a person who habitually reveals personal or sensational facts about others2 a: rumor or report of an intimate nature b: a chatty talk c: the subject matter of gossip
— gos·sip·ry \-sə-prē\ noun

Now lets take a look at divisive:

creating disunity or dissension
— di·vi·sive·ly adverb
— di·vi·sive·ness noun

Well, I see gossip can lead to divisiveness. Gossip hurts and can cause a breach in unity. But, they are quite obviously not one and the same. So, should I comment and ask how she feels about this misuse of the word gossip? Here's where everything becomes clear. Here are her rules for commenting (taken directly from her site):

"Thank you for visiting. I love hearing from you and try to respond to questions as time allows. Most God-honoring comments are approved within 24 hrs. If your comment does not appear within 48 hours, consider the following:1. Rude or inflammatory comments will not be allowed.2. If you are known for gossiping online, you are not welcome to comment here (you know who you are).3. My blog is not a debate blog. It is a place for women to be encouraged and have their thinking challenged. You can disagree, of course, but don't expect a long, drawn out debate - I don't have time for it. I'm a busy mom and so are most of my readers. If you find yourself disagreeing with practically everything here, perhaps you should considering reading without commenting until you decide if you want to stay. 4. Posters without a valid email address will not be approved."

So, does she really want anyone to disagree? No, I don't think so. If you are not "likeminded" don't be bothered to comment, since your posts will be considered gossip. I am also disturbed because she is an "inventor of evil," as, in her post "Walking Billboards," in which she contemplates a fictional senerario in which "A young man nonchalantly approaches the pair [a real-life teenage girl and her mother] in the store and quietly stands in front of the daughter, boldly staring at her chest. " She goes on to slander the young lady and her mother in the post, without ever speaking to them.

No I don't know Mrs. McDonald in person, just what I read on her blog. However, I do know she was happy to comment directly to a friend on her blog when she highlighted Mrs. McDonald's view. However, when my husband posted a differing view she e-mailed the friend to encourage the friend to defend her. Mrs. McDonald could have easily contacted my husband through his blog, which was on the comment, but chose not to (or was not able to?) defend her views. Could she have been afraid of her use (or misuse) of scripture? This had the potential to cause strife between two friends who also happen to be a brother and sister in Christ. Fortunately, my husband and our friend are both mature enough that it did not cause any problem. I also believe the misuse of the term "gossip" is an attempt at deceit.

Just to make it clear, we do believe in modesty and standards of dress. However, Mrs. McDonald is not my standard bearer. Why, because for the reasons I have stated above I can count her as:

full of strife, deceitful, a slanderer, an inventor of evil. After reading her blog, boastful and haughty also came to mind. But, only God can know her heart. I think I will still go to my Bible for the answers and not to Mrs. McDonald. I do welcome comments, but will not allow profanity on my blog. But please, if you use scripture, use it correctly and with no twisting to attempt to prove your point. It is also fine for us to admit that we are arguing a point from our own standards. As long as we realize at that point that our own standards do not carry the weight and authority of scripture.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Joy Of Sharing

Raspberry wontons
This morning we were having company—time to bake! I had already planned on making this dessert earlier in the week for my boys, but held off when I knew company was coming. The guest's wife has admitted to me that she doesn't cook much—due to not having a lot of time and also having four small children and a husband that works third shift.

While talking to her this morning I found that growing up on Martha Stewart and the I-can-do-it-all (while still looking picture perfect) attitude has left a lot of young women today too intimidated to experiment. I had the joy of introducing her to Sandra Lee's semi-homemade cooking and the ability to use good "short cuts" to make delicious food. I also loaned her a cookbook I use when I am running short on time. The book is great for simple meal planning. Each main entree has a maximum of four ingredients and also comes with an entire meal plan and associated grocery list.

The Sandra Lee recipe I used this morning was Raspberry Chocolate Wonton, from the book Sandra Lee - Semi-Homemade Cooking 3. If you haven't discovered Sandra Lee yet, run—don't walk—to your nearest bookstore and snap them up. Also check out her web site. She is also featured in the current issue of Southern Lady magazine.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Guarding Our Hearts

This week's scandal is New York Governor Eliot Spitzer's involvement in hiring a prostitute. After spending so many years fighting corruption and prostitution as attorney general, he fell into the same trap as those he had so aggressively prosecuted. After a career with a spotless record and doing so much good he has now been forced to resign. How did it come to this?

He didn't heed the words of Proverbs 22:5 "thorns and snares are in the way of the crooked; whoever guards his soul will keep far from them." In a job that comes in constant contact with prostitution and the criminal world he should have been even more on his guard. Satan is good at throwing temptation and trials in our paths.
Now, Mr. Spitzer must rightly face the consequences of his actions, both criminal and personal.

While I do believe he must be made to face the same legal punishments as those he prosected, I am very upset that some seem to want to have him drawn and quartered. Actress Julianne Moore has come out with obscene language condemning him. I have never heard her come out against the industry that employs her. The entertainment industry that loves to tear the very morals and fabric of decency to shreds. Also Ms. Moore has appeared in many R-rated movies, so rated for strong sexual content, nudity, language and violence. In "The End of the Affair" she plays an adultress. She is twice divorced with her first child being born out of wedlock (out-of-wedlock birth being the focus of another movie character she played).

We should all be guarding our own hearts and minds, it is now time for the legal system to deal with Mr. Spitzer and let his family deal with the emotional havoc his actions have caused. We should use his example to spur us to realize that "but for the grace of God" we could be in his situation.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Satan at Work?

Many in our church are going through hardships right now. Some financial, some job-related, some health-related, and others are dealing with the death of close family members. Yesterday two wonderful friends at church lost loved ones. Stacy lost her grandfather and Linda lost her father.

These are the times that we as Christians have two paths in front of us. One is the path that Satan lays with traps and snares. Grumbling, moaning, self pity and pulling away from God and His word are some of the traps that Satan loves to see us fall into. Also those not going through the trials can fall into the same trap that Job's friends fell into.

Eliphaz says to Job in Job 22:21-23:

"Agree with God, and be at peace; thereby good will come to you. Receive instruction from his mouth, and lay up his words in your heart. If you return to the Almighty you will be built up; if you remove injustice far from your tents."

As we know, God was allowing Satan to test Job, he lost his family, lands and friends but his relationship with God remained steadfast.

I have often heard Christians who have not gone through a deep trials critize those who are going through them. God often puts us through the fire to strenghten us, while others have few trials because they are not being used of God. Satan may not be attacking because we are no threat to him.

The other path is to take these trials and use them to bring us to closer fellowship with Him. These are the times that I seem to grow and learn the most. One blog I have visited often is written by a woman who thanks God that her husband was sent to prison. Not because she hates him but because their marriage was at an end and it took this trial to make them work on their relationship with each other and with God. It also gives us the opportuniy to help others, weather with physical help (providing food or money) or emotional help (our experiences from our own trials.)

So why are so many in our church going through these trials? I firmly believe that Satan is hurling everything he can at us because he is seeing growth and the building of strong bonds in the congregation. This scares him. The ladies Bible study that meets every other Tuesday is growing. The men have started a Bible study once a month. Many men meet to pray on Wednesday morning. As we grow in Him and help meet each others needs we are a testimony in our community. I am thankful for a church that loves and serves each other at this time.
Our people—hard at fellowship

Monday, March 10, 2008

Prayers for Stacy and family

My friend Stacy has just found out that her grandfather passed away. He has been sick for some time and Stacy had visited him just a week and a half ago, but now her family is looking at another trip to Florida.

Her grandmother is also not in good health so there is some concern for her also.

Please pray for the family and for the traveling the family will be doing at this emotional time.

Hey, what did I do?

As a parent of a child struggling in school I often feel that I am the one being punished. Take for example tomorrow, I have to attend a manifestation hearing to determine why my son has missed so many days of school.

Well duh! when he has had 19 days of suspension this school year that might explain it. There is no need for him to attend the meeting, just me. We will spend about an hour and a half to two hours in meetings and come away with "his behavior has caused him to become suspended."

When he first started to receive suspensions, I would get a phone call to pick him up. When I got there we had to discuss what the problem was. Then when he returned to school I had to attend a re-admittance meeting (always without him.) We would then discuss why he was suspended. This went on for the first three times, until I questioned why it was me in the meeting and not him. Now, we have only the one meeting when I pick him up.

It's not that I don't want to be aware of the problems, issues, and help in finding a solution. I have found that many of the meetings are just a repeat or a total waste of time (like "why isn't he in school?").

Yesterday, David was very quiet and we found him in tears in his room. He is very worried about what the outcome of the meeting might mean. Will he be kicked out of school and sent to another? This is the first sign of concern that his actions have consequences. He also has a new one-on-one that starts tomorrow, I hope this change will also be a benefit.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

A Touch of Spring

Entry decoration

The entry area in our home brings the joy of spring and Easter inside. I have used my wreath holder to display a picture of David's first Easter. The potpourri has been changed to a green and white theme that, when lit, sends a sweet smell into our home. Last year David found a bird's nest near our home, so I have placed it on a pedestal with mini pastel eggs. The most popular item on the table seems to be the candy store jar of jelly beans, which have had to be replenished several times already.

Nest basket with eggs
Last night we went out, giving Rich a chance to get away from the computer. We checked Lynchburg's Pier One and found a set of two "nest" baskets and some larger pastel eggs that go so well with what I did in the entry. The nest baskets are now displayed in our livingroom, carrying the theme further into the house.

Friday, March 7, 2008

You Can Lead A Horse To Water

This week has been particularly rough at our house. The first problem occured at 1:20am Monday morning when our son came into our bedroom complaining that he didn't feel well. He often will say that when he just doesn't feel like sleeping, but then he stated that his room was really hot. After checking his forehead and finding it warm I began the hunt for a thermometer that works. It shouldn't be hard to find one when there are three, but the first didn't work, the second one my son had removed the batteries from for a toy and hadn't told us, and the third was MIA. So I headed to Wal-mart, at least this was one time it wasn't crowded, and purchased some more medicine and a new thermometer. Getting back I found that David's temperature was 100.0. So after a dose of medicine and checking his tempertature until 4am, there was no school for Monday and no work done my Mom.

David and me on the porch swing
Tuesday he really tried to convince us that he was sick when he wasn't. He was hoping for another day off of school, but we weren't buying it. He tried to convince the school he was sick and when that didn't work he decided to tick everyone off at school—teachers, his one-on-one, classmates, the vice principal—so he got his wish, another suspension. This suspension was for five full days, making it a whole hour and a half in school this week. During all suspensions we have worked him harder than when he goes to school but this has not worked. This time he is doing "community service", I have taken him to the church and he has been vacuuming, dusting, fixing the pew cards, stuffing bulletins. I also made him help Miss Peg, who takes care of the flowers at the church. So he spent hours pulling weeds, picking up sticks and disposing of debris. He will return to school on Tuesday and hopefully stay there this time.

I have told the school that if he doesn't improve his work or grades this year I will fight to make sure they do not push him into the eigth grade. I am worried that they may push him through, thereby teaching him that he doesn't have to work and will still be rewarded. Not a work ethic I want my child to learn. David was born in May, so making him repeat this year will not put him so much older than his classmates. My hope is that next year he will have learned his lesson of staying in school and completing the work.

As parents, so often the school holds us responsible for making sure our children do their work—but there is only so much we can do. I have told several teachers and the vice principal that I want to be informed, but that teachers need to be very careful in understanding that if he does not complete the work, they should not expect me to "make sure" it gets done. We go over homework that must be done and he is not allowed to play until it is completed. Often he doesn't complete the work and often he doesn't turn it in even if he does complete it, but there is only so much that I can do as a parent. I won't be "guilted" into completing it for him, however, I have sat with him often and gone over each question or problem with him. As the saying goes, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink."

Thursday, March 6, 2008

On to the Reception

The bride, just before the wedding
After attending the wonderful wedding ceremony of our friends Abigail and Joe, we were invited to celebrate with them at the reception. They stamped their reception with the same personal touches that they had used in their wedding.

The stairs leading into the home were strewn with the same beautiful rose petals that had been used at the church. Upon entering this stately old mansion we found their "guest book," which was actually a large picture frame with the glass removed. The guests were to sign in on the mat board. After they returned from their honeymoon, they would choose a portrait to be inserted and then they will hang this guest book on the wall to enjoy. I loved this!

Each room in the house had a special purpose. There was a room for the gifts, one with sofas to relax in. The food rooms were all decorated with magnolia leaves around the food platters. The drinks room, fruit and cheese room, and dessert rooms were very popluar. The large hall area was the cake room. Tables had been set up in one room to allow guests to sit while they ate. Just as had happened at the church, people from all areas of their lives mingled and enjoyed hearing stories of Joe and Abigail.

The wedding cake was another representation of their personalities—with Cinderella and Prince Charming as the cake toppers (Joe loves Disney.)

Growing up as a Baptist, I have attended very few weddings where there was a first dance (Baptists don't dance). I understand the reason behind it, since often people become inappropriate in the manner that they dance. However, as in the rest of the day, we got a wonderful twist. The couple was brought into the cake room and the music began. Their first dance as husband and wife was full of sweet romantic smiles and soft caresses. The music ended and the dancing ended with their dance. The music was not extended as an invitation to other dancers.
The bouquet toss

When it came time for the bouquet throwing, Abigail threw it from the top of the staircase outside. There was much jumping for the prize.

The garter throwing held yet another thoughtful change. At our wedding, I chose to wear a garter, but no one was aware of it and we did not throw it. The tendency for people to want to hoot and holler and embarass the couple led us to tell people we were not doing that. When it was time for Joe to remove the garter, he reached to get it without lifting up Abigail's gown. Upon not finding it he removed his jacket to get down to business and, lo and behold, it was on his arm. Abigail then removed it and Joe threw it to the single men. There was no embarassing placing it on the bouquet-catcher's leg.

The bridal couple
As the couple left they were showered with rose petals. It was the most beautiful and God honoring wedding we have ever attended.

Thank you Joe and Abigail for including us in your day. I also want to thank David and Luke Edmonson for the amazing images you see on the post today. If you need an event photographed contact them at .

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Creating Exellence

String trio
I was very impressed with all aspects of Joe and Abigail's wedding, but the photography just blew me away. Most people enjoy looking at the wedding pictures, but few know what goes into creating these lasting images.

My husband has been photographing weddings professionally for almost twenty years now and I have photographed several weddings also. But, my speciality is children's portraiture photography.

I became a photographer for Lifetouch Preschool Portraits when my son entered first grade. This job allowed me to work during his school schedule, no holidays, nights and no summers. A great mom job! I had never been a photographer, other than with my own small pocket camera taking pictures of my son at home. But I quickly came to love the work and the creativity it allowed for me.

Most people know school portraits in regards to elementary school ages and up, but preschool portraits are very different. Babies and toddlers don't fold their hands and say cheese. While a four year old may be able to pose on command, few toddlers will be so compliant. So as photographers, we were given much more creative freedom. After working as a photographer for just five years I was named National Photographer of the Year. This is a huge honor. Many photographers working for the company for 20 years have never been awarded this.

Since our foray into photographing weddings we have learned how very difficult it can be. Most couples want magazine quality portraits, however, when the wedding budget gets cut, it usually comes out of the photography budget. The expectation of quality and quantity remains the same—just the price is lowered.

Tabitha Draluck helps arrange the flowers
We worked together on photographing one wedding for a dear friend, so the work was done for free and we were charging them only the price of film and printing. This was in the days before quality digital photography. This wedding became a real headache for us.

First, there was Grandma with her little disposable camera that kept stepping in front of us as we attempted to photograph the formal portraits. Then she started arranging the groups we were photographing, telling people to get out of the shot so she could just keep the ones she wanted in the picture. We told her several times that she was welcome to take photos after we took our pictures but that she should wait for us to arrange the groupings. However, Granny continued to interfere and we eventually had to speak to another family member who had to be very blunt with her.

When the couple returned from their honeymoon, we invited them over to look at their photos and choose what they wanted so we could place the order. Upon picking up the portraits (remembering that we are only charging our cost), the bride's father, who had paid nothing for the wedding but made the groom's family pay for everything, complained that we were charging them too much for how little they were getting.

End of "The First Dance"
When we have not been the official photographers of a wedding, many couples who were displeased with the quality of their professional (paid) portraits later told us that they wished they had hired us.

This is the first wedding we have attended that by far and away we could never have competed with the photography. The images are magazine quality and I felt privileged to see these men in action. The father and son team of David and Luke Edmonson was beyond compare. These men mingled well with the wedding guests, allowing them to take relaxed, natural images of the wedding party and the guests. They always maintained their professionalism and were very nice about allowing others to get good images also.

If you want to see these incredible images you can check it out on their web site at, click Weddings, click Portfolio, then the last option Featured Wedding. The images will probably only be up for a week, so don't waste time—check it out now! You will be amazed by the creativity and workmanship of these men.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Presenting Mr. and Mrs. Joseph McKinley

As Abigail reached the altar where her groom awaited her, her father in a clear, steady voice gave her to Joe on behalf of himself and his wife. Joe's father officiated during the exchanging of the vows and rings. As Abigail took her wedding vows she didn't promise to love, honor and obey—yes she dropped the word obey.

The Kiss!
Instead she replaced it with the more biblical "submit." This is the first wedding we have ever attended that this was done, and Rich and I loved the change. Joe was reminded of the seriousness of his vows. He is to love Abigail like Christ loves his bride, the Church. Christ laid down his life for the church and Joe must be willing to do this for his bride. Joe's father also reminded them that their vows were not based on if they felt the other was fulfilling their vows.

The ring that Abigail placed on Joe's finger was a very special one. The ring had been placed on Joe's grandfather's hand 54 years ago. The ring remained on his hand for the fifty-year marriage of his grandparents, until after the death of his grandmother. Abigail's brother-in-law then said a prayer of dedication over the couple.

"In Christ Alone"
At the end of the vows, with cameras poised awaiting for the kiss, another God honoring turn occured. Instead of the kiss we all joined the wedding party for the singing of "In Christ Alone." At this point with camera at the ready, David leaned over and said "oh no I missed the kiss", he had been waiting throughout the ceremony in order to capture this image. I explained that they had not kissed yet, but should do so soon.

Beaming husband & wife
Then Dr. McKinley presented Mr. and Mrs. Joseph McKinley, followed by the moment David had been waiting for—The Kiss! Cameras flashed and all three of us got that moment of their first kiss as newlyweds. The glow on their faces spoke it all. They just beamed. After walking back down the aisle Joe dipped Abigail and gave her another kiss.

Following the ceremony, guests mingled outside the church for a while before heading to the reception.

Monday, March 3, 2008

To God Be The Glory

Gorgeous decorations
Saturday we attended a very unusual wedding. What makes the wedding of our friends Joe and Abigail so different was that the focus was not on them, but so clearly on God.

Upon arriving early at the church we were amazed at how beautifully decorated the church was and how even the smallest details were thought of. My husband and I believe that often the world now surpasses the people of God when it comes to the arts and beauty. We as Christians should aim towards beauty, after all didn't God do this with all of creation? And who could forget the beauty that God demanded for his tabernacle.

But back to the wedding, the center asile was ribboned off and rose petals had been scattered down the path leading up to the alter. There were also jars with candles leading down the aisle. The alter held two beautiful floral arrangments. We were given programs that held information on each bridal party member, order of service and a song that would be sung during the ceremony.

The program
So far pretty much expected, but very well-done, decorations. As the last of the guests were being seated accompanied by a string trio, the expected order of the wedding ended. First, instead of the music that would bring the attendents and bride down the aisle, the music stopped. Instead of the bride or groom, Pastor Mike (our pastor) came out on behalf of the couple. Joe and Abigail had requested that their wedding begin with a short message about what they hold most dear. Mike started with the design that God gave us for marriage out of Genesis. Next we were told of the demands God placed on couples who marry, women are to submit to their husbands and husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves His church. Christ gave his life and died on the cross for the church, his bride. He then concluded that God's desire, along with Joe's and Abigail's is that we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior. Mike then explained that nothing about this day would make them happier than if someone accepted Christ on their wedding day.

The ringbearer's ride
Then the music began, bringing Joe and his groomsmen in. After they had all taken their places, the bridesmaids came down the aisle. The flowergirl had to literally pull the ring bearer to the altar. No he wasn't kicking and screaming, he was Abigail's nephew that was too young to walk so he was in a wagon that had been decorated with tulle and flowers. This sweet little guy sat so well without moving or grabbing at things on his trip down the aisle.

Abigail escorted by her father
Then the bride, the glowing Abigail, escorted by her father came down the aisle. All eyes were on her and hers were only for her handsome groom awaiting her at the altar.

I will be posting details and pictures all this week about the wedding, so make sure you check back.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Genesis 2:24

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one in flesh.
Genesis 2:24

Saturday, March 1, 2008

A Touch of Summer

David's "water gliding"
Even though we have not had much snow, there have been some very cold days. So, I decided to bring a little "summer fun" into our family Friday night. We started with an indoor picnic of homemade french dip sandwiches, chips and homemade lemon tarts. I had made all the food the day before, so there was no kitchen clean-up to be done, just throw away the plates! We then went to an indoor pool and splashed away. It's fun just to break up the pattern of our lives and relax. It was inexpensive and just a little planning made this a special night.
Daddy makes a big splash