Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Plea From a Frustrated Housewife

I bought a new blender today. My old blender served us well – it was a wedding present when we married 15 years ago. It has been time to retire the thing for over a year – the plastic jar has a crack in it, so when I go to make a milk shake or something, I have to move really fast to get my blending done before the liquid seeps out the crack in the side. I have lived with this situation for quite some time, never mind the fact that blenders are relatively inexpensive and easily found in many, many of the stores I frequent. Clearly, Martha Stewart I am not.

Anyway, I broke down and bought a new blender today because I also bought some powdered Slim Fast and I want to add strawberries and ice to it to make a nice shake for lunch today and I’m tired of the mess caused by my old blender. We’ll discuss the merits or non of Slim Fast at a later date – or not – depending on whether this move of desperation results in any movement of the scale toward the left or not. Though I am quite conservative, I would rather a more liberal bent to my scale needle, to be demonstrated in a marked leftward shift. But that is not the point of this post at all.

No, the point of this post is to make a plea to manufacturers to please take into account who the likeliest person is to open a new product. The reason being, I have unpackaged the layers and layers of cardboard and plastic wrap to finally get to my new blender. The thing came with the jar thingy assembled. I am one of those germophobe, clean freaks who washes new dishes before using them. However, the jar is so tightly assembled that I CANNOT get it unscrewed. It’s not budging. I’ve tried and tried, but I’m just not strong enough. I’m wondering what kind of industrial strength tool they used to screw the jar onto the base. And what kind of Hercules did they expect would be opening the box and trying to use the blender? Sigh.

So, please, manufacturer people, help a girl out. Does it have to be fastened so tightly that nothing short of a bomb blast will detach it?

And while we’re at it, could we also discuss the plastic tie wraps and screws that hold every stinkin’ piece of children’s toys in their impenetrable boxes? And how about that thick plastic box stuff that is much thicker than shrink wrap and is nigh unto impossible to open - even with scissors? And shrink wrap. Don’t even get me started.

I’m off to try again to detach my blender jar from its base. Just needed to vent. And apparently when the blog drought ends, it results in this. I do apologize.

A Laundry Day Journal

One of the most satisfying, and yet profoundly unsatisfying phrases in the universal language of keeping house is, “The laundry is done.” The sense of elated accomplishment which floods you as the last towel of the last load is taken from the dryer, folded neatly and placed neatly on the towering pile of neatly folded, marvelously fresh smelling towels and you shut the dryer door in victory lasts all of about a minute and a half as you begin the climb up three flights of stairs to put them in the linen closet, balancing the sweet smelling pile under your chin, drinking in the aromatic freshness (I’m a Gain girl, myself) and the overall sense of having accomplished, when you make the mistake of looking down as you pass through the living room on your way to the last set of stairs before final completion and delivery of towels to linen closet. And there you spot them. The pair of dirty socks that one of the little arrows from your quiver has thoughtfully left right there in the middle of the floor, right where he took them off and promptly forgot they had ever existed in the assumption that they will magically put themselves in the hamper, and later the washing machine, somehow appearing sometime later in his room, no longer dirty. I say thoughtfully left them, because, of course, you needed to be brought down from your elation and be reminded that laundry is never, actually, done. That sense of accomplishment was based on a faulty, shifting sand. The rock bottom truth is that there is never an end to laundry, but merely an abating of the flood of dirty clothes for a fleeting moment.

And you sigh and think about the series on Ecclesiastes that you’ve been listening to Alistair Begg preach, which he titled, “Chasing the Wind,” and you think, yes, laundry, too, is vanity, vanity and chasing the wind. And you nod sagely with Solomon the Preacher, pondering how there is really nothing new under the sun as you call your son and remind him – again – that dirty socks belong in the hamper, not the living room floor, and you remind yourself – again – that love is long-suffering, and you must be patient, because, after all, Jesus has been so very patiently long-suffering with you, my dear, when you go into your son's room to gather up the dirty clothes from the floor there, where they still sit, even though you had asked him three times (at least!) already if he had dirty clothes that needed to go to the laundry room this morning.

Then you find yourself thinking that, really, you shouldn’t complain about laundry because, after all, how thankful you are for the clothes you have on your back, and on your husband’s back, and on your children’s backs, and how thankful you are for those bodies that wear the clothes and how thankful you are for God’s provision for the food and clothes and shelter you enjoy today. And you find yourself pondering with thankful heart that you are not lugging said laundry down to the river for an all-day session of back-breakingly scrubbing your only other set of clothes on rocks and then hanging them out to dry, but you are blessed with an automatic washer and dryer right there in the basement and can wash the clothes several times a week rather than much more seldom as those in earlier times were forced to do. And you go back to Ecclesiastes and read:

Ecclesiastes 3:10-12
“I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.”

And you skip to the end and read:
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:
Fear God and keep His commandments,
For this is man’s all.
For God will bring every work into judgment,
Including every secret thing,
Whether good or evil.”

And you ponder the significance of doing laundry as unto the Lord. And then you come to the end of your blog post and get up and go down to the basement to sort and start the next load of laundry and thank God for the blessings whose clothes you get to wash today.

Morning at My House

A phrase I am 100 per cent sure my pre-mother-of-boys self would never have imagined herself saying:

"Quit burping at each other and get ready to go to school!"

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Youth Ministry: A Parody and Some Thoughts

You know, the thing that makes a parody a really good parody is when it looks so much like the thing it is satirizing that you almost cannot tell the difference and you feel like squirming a little (or even a lot) when you see it. That’s what this video is like if you’ve been paying attention at all to youth ministry in the evangelical subculture lately.

Ignatius from travis hawkins on Vimeo.

I have to say, though, that I am really thankful for certain youth pastors I had while growing up. They were often kind of crazy at times, but they also loved us and loved us enough to tell us the truth of God’s word and to teach us how to read it and study it for ourselves, too. My first encounter with learning how to read my Bible daily came from GA camp as an older elementary girl and then youth group at our church in junior high and high school. Sure there are things about my youth group experience that I wish had been different, but, overall, we were taught to respect God’s word. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t any nonsense, but it was nothing like the trends I see today. My youth workers would not be seen as “cool” by a lot of the people telling us what is “cool” for youth ministry today, but they did make youth group interesting and fun enough that we wanted to be there, and deep enough for those of us who had the yearning to dig deep. It wasn’t perfect, but I’m thankful for those who sacrificed to show me that they cared about me and that they loved Jesus enough to teach us His word, and even during the fun, truth was not sacrificed on the altar of entertainment, though, to be honest, I'm not sure the church where I grew up would still be able to say that, and I'm not sure the tendency wasn't beginning even then. But, for the most part, I was taught to love the truth and not to compromise God's word, and I am eternally grateful for that, and even more so, I am grateful that God opened my heart and eyes and ears to hear His word and respond in faith.

What the Lord allowed me learn in my teenage years prepared me for college and laid the groundwork for me knowing that I MUST find a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church while I was away from my home church and I am thankful that, only by God’s grace was the faith mine by the time I left home and entered the University of Florida (or ‘the brothel’, as one friend from youth group unkindly called it when voicing his unsought opinion that it wouldn’t be good for me to go there - I told him I was pretty sure the peer pressure to worldly living wouldn't be much more severe than what I'd already endured in high school). On graduation Sunday in 1989, my youth pastor asked me to be one of the graduates to share my testimony with our church. I don’t remember everything I said that morning (it was 20(!!) years ago, after all – we’ll bemoan that sad fact later), but I do remember that I read Jude 24-25, which I had marked in my Bible long before. Here’s what it says in the New American Standard version:

Jude 24-25
“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”

As an 18-year-old girl, with all the uncertainty and hope and fear that lay ahead as I prepared for the great unknown of leaving home and going off to college, I stood on the promise of God’s word that my Savior, Jesus Christ, was able to keep me from stumbling and to make me stand in the presence of His glory, blameless and with great joy to the praise of His glory. And, by God’s amazing grace, through no goodness in me and in spite of my naiveté and sinfulness and mistakes along the way and in spite of so many things I wish I had known then that I know now, in spite of it all, I can say with gratitude that Jesus has always kept me and held me and been the anchor for my soul. He has filled me with a love for His word that has only grown deeper the more I read it and the more I learn how to apply it to my daily, moment by moment life. I can look back, and yes there are things I would do so differently today, but I can look back and say that my God is faithful, even when I am not. I knew it as an untested 18-year-old, and I know it even better today as a 37-year-old, and by God’s grace, I know I will know it even better when I reach the end of the days God grants me to live here on this earth.

So, I don’t post this parody to say that all youth ministries are off the rails. As I said, I am very thankful for the youth workers who helped shape me into the woman I am today, but I do post it as a warning.

Parents, do you know what is going on in your teenagers’ youth group? I don’t think we can assume that just because the kids are meeting together at church that it’s all okay. I’m very, very thankful that it was at my church growing up. Sadly, it isn’t everywhere. I’ve seen some things since leaving home. Check it out. Know what they are doing and what they are hearing and what they are learning, if you are at all interested that your faith become theirs, for that is the aim we must be shooting our arrows toward. (Psalm 127:3)

HT: Thanks to Jules at Everyday Mommy for posting this video. It got me thinking, and even back to blogging today!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Little Cabin in the Woods

That's where we stayed while we enjoyed our vacation to the mountains in North Georgia. First, we visited Ft. Knox, KY since we most likely will be going there next. The boys liked staying on the Army base, I’m a little nervous about the move there, though I’ve heard from several people that it is a good place to be. I’ll cross that bridge when it is time – I’ve got enough going on here to focus on at the moment.

Anyway, we spent last week at a cabin we rented from an Army buddy of Drew’s and his parents and brother joined us, enjoying the peace and quiet, making s’mores on the campfire, giggling at the wild turkeys that would come strolling past the back porch and relaxing. On Wednesday, we spent the day at Amicalola Falls, the largest waterfall east of the Mississippi River, and that was my favorite part of the trip. We drove to the top and walked the trail to the hotel lodge there and ate in front of a window wall with a gorgeous view, where we also got to talking to one of the park rangers. She offered to meet us at the bottom after we walked down the 604 steps and show us some of her birds of prey. Very cool. Drew, his brother, the boys and I walked down the steps that follow along beside the falls while his parents and Boo drove back down to meet us at the visitor’s center. My most unobservant son managed to spot a beaver (actually, upon reflection we think it was an otter) on the other side of the falls as we were making our way down all those steps. That was cool, too.

At the bottom we met up with the park ranger and she introduced us to her birds, and one of the other rangers told us she is one of the top bird rehabilitation specialists in Georgia. They were gorgeous. There was a hawk that had been blinded in one eye by crows, several beautiful owls and a vulture. We got to have our own little educational session as she told us all about these birds and how they go about trying to rehabilitate them or place them in educational programs if they are not able to be rereleased into the wild. I loved it! Those birds of prey are some of my favorite creatures to see, and I always look forward to programs where we can watch them fly or learn about them. Back inside the ranger station, the boys got the opportunity to hold a non-venomous snake. I passed. Snakes are my least favorite creatures. By far.

I also got to reconnect with my uncle and his wife as who live in the area there as we had dinner together one evening, and then we got to visit my Grandma and my uncle in Knoxville on our way home, too. And that was really good, too.

Maybe if I can figure out where Drew put the camera I can share some pictures in the near future.

What I did not get done was any writing for future blog posts. I’ll have to manage to find some time for that now that I’m home – once I get the laundry done and the house back to normal, that is. I tell you what, over a week with NO INTERNET access was brutal. My hands were twitching by Saturday. What with writer’s block and last week’s vacation, I have really missed blogging – and reading blogs.

All in all, it was a great vacation, but it’s very good to be home, too. Looking forward to getting back into our routine and hopefully blogging again this week. But for now I must go check the chicken I have cooking for dinner tonight and do some work around the house while Boo naps and before I have to go pick up the boys from school.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Jello and Walls and Nails, Oh My!

If you, as I do, find the postmodern mindset to be confusing in the extreme and frustrating to engage in conversation, you might appreciate this as a great article to read. I have a lot of respect for Dr. Albert Mohler, and he does a nice job in that article of kind of summarizing the postmodern's mindset and the way people today tend to view truth as relative and non-universal. In my opinion, the postmodern attitude seems to revel in confusion and frustration. The more convoluted the argument, the more confusing the vocabulary, the more obscure the reasoning, so much the better. Just don't insist on anything being absolutely true. That's a huge no-no. But trying to figure out the movement/attitude/philosophy and conversing with someone whose thinking is shaped by it, well, the whole nailing jello to the wall analogy applies, I think.

I am behind in my iPod listening to Dr. Mohler's radio program, and today I was listening to his March 4 broadcast "Ask Anything Wednesday." The whole program was interesting, but what stuck out most to me were the last two questions at the end of the program, one dealing with talking to teenagers about postmodernism and the other about Open Theism and Process Theology and liberalism. Fascinating discussion. You can find the whole program here if you want to listen to it.

This shift toward postmodern thought has been going on for a long time, certainly its manifestation in the popular culture was at least beginning while I was in high school and college, but it is much more full-blown now. I'm sure the theories and shift among academics was happening way before it became so widespread popularly. Such things usually take a while before infiltrating the common thinking of regular people.

Anyway, since I started blogging I have become much more aware as I read comment threads on certain blogs how pervasive this 'postmodern' deconstructionist kind of thinking is becoming. And I think a lot of people don't even realize how much we've been buying into it. But you see it manifest in many ways, especially in a subtle, and sometimes not subtle at all, disregard for authority and objective truth and morality. Anymore, you have to be extremely careful to define terms and be clear about your meaning because one of the most frustrating aspects of this whole attitude is that people who are entrenched in it revel in playing around with language and you can never assume they mean what a straightforward meaning of words would normally mean. I have been left extremely frustrated after reading a lot of blog conversations where someone willfully misinterprets a straightforward meaning and turns it all around to mean something the writer never meant. Apparently this is a hallmark of postmodern thinking. What the author means matters little, it is all in what the reader wants it to mean to them that matters anymore. Dr. Mohler says this idea is called the "death of the author." I saw some of that in my English classes in high school and college, but apparently it's huge these days. That must be the root of so much of the hair-pulling frustration in blogging that I see around.

Anyway, I am only beginning to piece together some thoughts that have been mulling around for a while. I have been wanting to write something for several weeks that I just have not been able to get time to focus on enough to write well, but since it kind of dovetails with what I listened to and read from Dr. Mohler today, I'm going to try to start working on it.

We are going on vacation for spring break, so I'll be taking an official blogging break for the next week or so (as opposed to my unofficial, unintended break of recent weeks), but I'm hoping to spend some of my time there thinking through the post I've been trying so hard not to write, but which seems to be sapping all my thinking energy until I finally write it. Curious? See you in a week or so.......

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Hello, My Name is Rebekah.....

...and I’m a bad driver. Just one of those little things you didn’t necessarily know about me. Oh yes. It was one of those days.

Confession time: I have a problem with curbs. If the battle is mostly won by admitting I have a problem, well, I’m admitting it. We have had this van for five years (I think?). You would think that I would have figured out how wide it is by now, wouldn’t you? Well, you would be mistaken to think so. Apparently I have yet to meet a curb I don’t love to ram my right tires over. And if you’re going too fast when you hit a high enough curb, it will give you a flat tire. Or two. Yes, ma’am. I know of what I speak.

So, today I met my husband for lunch and then he said that since I was dropping him off at work why not come on in and get my military ID updated since mine has been expired since January. Short aside, you have to go through a lot of security to get into his building. My jacket set off the metal detector, and Boo took off down the hall while they were scanning me to find out why I set it off. Good thing Drew was with us, in fact had to be with us since we civilian unauthorized people are not allowed to be unescorted anywhere in the building. Quite a change from his hospital days. Oh, and it took, like, forever, to get this ID taken care of. Drew leaned over while we were waiting and said, “There are 8 people working in this office, most of whom are standing over there talking to each other…..and only one can take the pictures?” Sigh. That’s the fun part of Army life. Hurry up and wait……..

Anyway, that had absolutely nothing to do with my story. It’s been a long dry spell writing-wise, bear with me, please. Anywho, I was driving home when I encounted a curb I have managed to drive past uneventfully for all these months of living here. Today, apparently, I needed to show the curb what I’m made of and rammed it good. The bump and immediate roar of the flat tire was disheartening. To say the least. Oh, and it's cold again today. Really cold.

Quite grateful that I had at least made it off the main road and was now on a somewhat less traffic infested road when I decided to make my driving error, I pulled out my cell phone and called Drew. “You’re going to kill me,” I began, which made him panic and wonder if I was okay. I assured him I was fine, didn’t mean to worry him like that, but I needed help. He came right away. I’m so thankful for my man. He assured me I wasn’t stupid and needed to quit apologizing, he was just glad it wasn’t an accident, when I kept berating my propensity toward driver’s curbside errors. I’m really, really glad he was home this time. The other times I have evidenced this particular quirk he has been deployed somewhere far away. That seems to be when I err the most often.

And another thing, the tire place had my tires in stock and can finish it tonight. When we lived “on the island” that was never the case. They always had to order my tires and it would take a day or two before I got my longsuffering van back.

And I think it’s pretty sad that I know that.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Could it Really Be Spring?

Ya’ll. I have my air conditioner on this afternoon! Spring is in the air. This is the first time I’ve ever run the A/C in this apartment. I tried keeping the windows open for a little while, but it is actually hot enough that the upstairs rooms were too hot and I needed to close up and turn on the air.

Woo-hoo! I’m so ready for spring and sunshine. I’m ready to see what our new home looks like with leaves on the trees and green on the grass. And I cannot wait to see the spring flowers. I just know it’s going to be gorgeous around here.

I’ve been seeing robins for about a week now and I saw a blue jay the other day. The birds are coming back! They know it’s just about spring, too. I also saw a gorgeous hawk in the tree out back. Love it! Didn’t have my camera handy, so no pictures to share, but, oh are we ready for spring.

I know, I know, there will probably still be some cold days yet to come. Don’t spoil my springy mood just yet. For today, I’m lovin’ the sunshine.