Thursday, October 25, 2012

Church Sign Wretchedness

My husband just this minute came in the door from his drive home from work and told me he'd found the worst church sign we've seen yet on the way home today:

"Be an organ donor, give your heart to Jesus."
Huh. Do I even need commentary?Just look at my last post.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Awe (Revised Post)

Romans 1:18-23

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

Romans 5:8
8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

This is going to be a long post. 

My son and I saw this recently:

After I watched this inspirational video extolling how fortuitous it is that we human beings evolved the ability to sense awe, to be awestruck, and what a benefit that ability is to our species, something finally fell into place for me.

What I discussed with my son after viewing the video with him was, “Why do you think we are capable of experiencing awe? Is it a fortuitous accident of biology? Is it just an experience to be sought for the sake of the experience? Why do you think it affects our brains as it seems to do? Is that just a fortuitous thing? Should it bother us that he claims they can measure biological benefits in our brains and our emotions and how we feel in response to being awestruck?” 

We are hard-wired, created even, to worship. How sad it is that this video which is meant to inspire fails to look high enough at the awesomeness the speaker thinks he’s appreciating. How depressing to consign it to mere evolutionary selection. How much more awesome to begin to understand that God created us to worship, gave us the ability to be awestruck. We are able to be awestruck at the incredible glory of the created world, and that ought to point us to the One who created such awesome beauty. If I am awestruck at a beautiful sunset or the Grand Canyon or at the wonder of the universe which we can only glimpse through our telescopes, how much more awesome and worthy of worship is the One who spoke these things into existence by the very power of His Word? If what we can see is so awe-inspiring, and we are capable of being awed by it, that ought to drive us to our knees in wonder at the immensity of the One who created it and instilled in us the very ability to be awed by it, and ever more so, by HIM

Taking this further, this awesome God, who hard-wired us to worship, not only spoke the universe and all it’s beauty and wonder into existence, He spoke revelation to us in His Word, in the Bible, that we might know Him. Not just to know that He is, but to actually know Him, know who He is and what He expects of us, and how to be reconciled to Him and to know His love for us and to be drawn into right relationship with Him, that we might express our awestruck wonder at His glory rightly. And not only that, this awesome God condescended to come down to us, put on human flesh and walk among us, fully God and fully man, God With Us, Immanuel, Jesus, and identified with His fallen and sinful and rebellious people. He fulfilled the law of righteousness that we have hopelessly broken, we wandering sheep who every one of us has gone astray. He Himself fulfilled that law for us. As Jesus, the Word made flesh, was dying on the cross, the perfect Lamb bearing the wrath we deserve because of our sin and rebellion and our refusal to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength in awe of who He is, cried out, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” What amazing compassion and love He shows us!  Friends, the more you think on this, this is awesome, and worthy of our most serious attention.

Ponder deeply your sin, and when that causes you to tremble, look to the cross and ponder deeply the immensity of the love and mercy and grace that put Jesus there in your place to bear the penalty your sin deserves, and be struck with awe, truly awestruck that God would do such a thing while we were yet sinners, He died for us. And He rose again. To those who repent and believe this, He is the resurrection and the life! 

As I thought after watching that video and talking with my boy about how sad it is that what this speaker thinks is inspiring when he chooses to worship the fortuitous nature of evolutionary selection rather than turn to be struck with awe that we have such a gracious Creator who would even grant us the ability to worship Him and how short this video falls in understanding the true impact and nature of awe, what fell into place for me was that I finally realized what it is about so much of today’s brand of evangelicalism that is off the mark. 

We have lost our sense of awe.

Take, for example, so many of our conferences, concerts, retreats. Too often, I fear, we have exchanged emotionalism, sentimentalism, and experience for awe. So much of the time we think we haven’t worshiped if our emotions haven’t been whipped up into some kind of experience. We aren't convinced of the sufficiency of Scripture and are always looking, looking, looking for something more. There is an energy generated in rock concert like settings with lights and guitars and drums and performers on a stage all taking on the posture we expect that says, ‘worship,’ and lots of expectant audience members already emotionally prepped to ‘feel’ a certain feeling. But, honestly, if you don’t hear the words, the same experience can be had at a secular concert sometimes. Experiential emotional highs aren’t the same as being awestruck in true worship. 

What I mean is, we settle for emotionalism devoid of thinking. We allow shallow, repetitive, self-centered and often theologically off songs and teaching to be the bulk of what we fill our minds with and it never really gets our attention off of us and our ‘felt-needs’, never calls us to repentance, never deals with our sin, teaches us to demand our best life now and to love ourselves, but never really turns our attention to God in a way that engages our intellect to ponder how awesome He is, and we’re never really left awestruck over Him, but are left thinking about ourselves too much and Jesus too little, or, if we’re thinking about Jesus it’s to want what He can give us like a spoiled little kid wanting more stuff. Let’s face it, if your worship song can be confused with a love song to a boyfriend or girlfriend, you’ve missed it.

I think a lot of the arguing in the so-called ‘worship wars,’ misses the real point in arguing over styles of music. There’s nothing inherently wrong with a more modern sound to music or with drums and guitars in and of themselves. It’s the content of the stuff that’s a problem. With more modern sounding music, we left doctrinal soundness in a whole lot of cases, and what scares me is that so many of us don’t seem to miss it or to even care as long as we ‘like’ the music or the teaching makes us feel good. I really don’t see that a more modern feel to the music has to reduce it doctrinally, but that’s, unfortunately, where we are now with a lot of it, and the teaching in books and from a lot of our ‘celebrity’ pastors has also been reduced to sound-bite feel-goodisms and pop psychology without much true and in depth biblical instruction and right application in a lot of cases, and we evangelicals are suffering for it. We wonder why so very many evangelical youth leave the faith? They probably never had it to begin with. They probably didn’t hear the gospel preached explicitly and applied often and well. I’m sorry if that’s harsh. I believe it’s the truth.

To be awestruck by our God is to be in awe of who He is and what He has done in creation and in the Gospel, and it is to love Him because He has first loved us. It doesn’t stop with, “He loves me, loves me, loves me, I love Him, love Him, love Him.” WHY do we love Him? Who is He? What is the gospel? Yes, He loves us, Oh, how He loves us! But it's not a gushy sentimental love, it is love that doesn't leave us in our sin, but makes us whole and counts us righteous because of what Jesus has done so that we can truly love Him. It's a love that draws us into true communion and fellowship with this awesome God. We have lost our sense of awe when we dumb down our songs and our preaching and our doctrine. We only begin to be in awe of Him when we are encouraged and led to ponder who He is and what He has done in a real and biblical way. It’s not so much that our modern praise songs or preachers are necessarily saying wrong things about God, they just aren’t saying much at all, and that’s where I think we miss the mark. We rely on great guitar solos and harmonies and emotional singers and much repetition to generate a mood and sound-bite, shallow teaching that glosses over sin and doesn’t dig deep and rightly into the Word rather than inform our intellect to respond to the greatness of our God.

And I’m not only talking about music. You know how I’m always going on about cutesy/stupid church signs? Hello. How in the world are we to expect the lost and dying world to take us or our message seriously when we demonstrate so blatantly that the church isn’t in awe of God by being so very flippant and silly about Him on our public signs out front and in the goofy and heretical things we blindly forward in e-mails and on our Facebook pages? Let us not mistake comfort, good feelings, sentimentalism, and emotionally charged music and teaching for worship. If it’s about me and how I feel and we don’t get past that, we haven’t yet turned our gaze where we ought to and are in danger of breaking the first commandment, “You shall have no other gods before Me.”

When was the last time you were left trembling when you really thought about who God is, and how incredible it is that He would love you and draw you to Himself and cleanse you from sin so you can love and worship Him? 

See, we are created to worship. A rocking concert, while it may be fun and okay in its place, very seldom leaves us with a true and right sense of awe. I’m not saying ALL modern songs and preachers are that shallow, that NONE point us toward awe because there are a few good ones to be found once in a while, and when we do we are wise to think about what we’re singing or reading or hearing and apply it, not just gobble up whatever has a Christian label on it without engaging the idea behind the words and taking it to heart. But seriously, I think we rely on the emotionalism of a super worship concert driven by the energy of a crowd who desperately want to feel something to instill in us an emotional experience way too often. 

We’ll either worship God, or we’ll substitute music, sports, people, celebrities, pop culture, politics, creation, or even a certain type of emotion or experience, or something else, because we are wired for awe. Let’s make sure when we enjoy God’s good creation or good music or art or whatever it is that moves us that we let it turn our affections to Him and not stop and settle for less. Let's make sure we are not seeking an emotional high or sentimentalism more than we are seeking God Himself . How is it that we are often emotionally charged by something we enjoy but are not truly in awe of the God we want to worship? Take a hard look and it will break your heart. At least, I hope so. 

I suspect that much of what we call worship isn’t really worship of God at all. Many of our songs, preaching, books are too much about us and our feelings and wants and desire for a good life now and not nearly enough about Jesus. We want to feel good, but do we really, truly love and want Jesus? Do we treasure HIM? We want heaven, but do we want the One who makes heaven heaven? We spend too much time demanding our best life now and way too little thinking and being completely awestruck by the immensity of the awesome grace of our God who loved us while we were yet sinners, and died for us. Again, I’m pointing my fingers at myself and I am guilty. I need this message, too. My heart breaks at how much I need this message, too.

I have sometimes found myself singing ‘worship’ songs, and stopping in the middle and praying, “Lord, are you pleased at all with this?” I want desperately to worship Jesus in spirit and in truth. I don’t want my ‘worship’ to be something that in actuality dishonors Him because I focus too much on my self-esteem and too little on treasuring Him for who He is and the great love and compassion He showers on us. I want to be awestruck by His glory. I want to be faithful, because He has saved me from my wretched sin. 

We desperately need to recapture a deep and abiding and biblically high view of preaching and worship. We need to be deeply in His Word, properly preaching the gospel - conviction of sin before holy God and repentance and faith in Jesus alone. Instead of being cute or talking about how we feel about God, we need to be teaching ourselves and others His word and helping people to understand who He is rightly so that we and they can be drawn to worship Him in Spirit and truth. We need both. I’m convinced that if we rightly understand how awesome God is and how kind and loving He is, we won’t have to work to gin up emotion. We will be moved to worship Him, by His Spirit working in us as our understanding is opened through His word.

Our God is awesome and holy and He has saved us to do the works He has prepared for us to do. Let’s honor the gift He gave us in the ability to be awestruck and turn our attention to Him and allow our awe of Him to stir us up and encourage one another to share His message with a lost and dying world. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Complicated Discussions in a Culture of Sound Bites

I find watching election year debates an extremely frustrating endeavor. If I am frustrated as I watch, I can only imagine the frustration the actual participants feel. Watching the last presidential debate and subsequently reading and reflecting upon people’s comments about it on Facebook hit home to me part of why I feel so frustrated watching these things. I’ll see if I can explain. First to get this out of the way, I am not at all unbiased in the upcoming election, and I’m not even pretending to be. I am not one of those clueless undecided voters, because I see a clear distinction between the two sides, so if that colors how I viewed the last debate, I won’t apologize for it. I’m not pretending to be unbiased here because I don't have to be, and I wish more people would be honest about their biases, too. If you aren’t decided at this point, you aren’t thinking about the issues and how very differently the two sides view the world. Not really the point of this post, though. 

We live in an age when people don’t seem to want lengthy discussions and well-reasoned arguments that take more than about a minute or two to explain. We want a quick answer that makes us feel good and doesn’t require us to do the hard work of thinking through a complex argument. We want a pithy sound bite or Facebook post or Twitter....twit, would that be what a post to Twitter is? I wouldn’t know, I haven’t entered the confusing world of Twitter yet. I’m hopelessly behind the times, it would seem.

Anyway, as I watched the last debate, I grew increasingly frustrated at how 2 minutes just isn’t enough time to adequately answer a question in any coherent and well-reasoned sort of way, no matter your bias, and then the opposing side gets to spend their response time totally mischaracterizing and LYING about what the first speaker just said, and then when the first speaker tries to clarify his position, people say he’s a bully, he’s mean, he’s too aggressive, he’s running over the moderator (who in this case was blatantly biased for the president, hello?) blah, blah, blah. You know what? I don’t think it’s mean or being a bully to refuse to sit back and have your position completely misrepresented. And the problem is, really, that the issues being discussed need much more than 2 minutes and a pithy sound bite to adequately discuss and hash out. And when my Facebook friends and ‘news’ anchors go on and on about how neither candidate is ‘nice’ that just frustrates me to no end. When did our warped definition of ‘nice’ trump reasoned and rational and even passionate discussion of serious issues? Why is being ‘nice’ more important than having your position clearly articulated and understood? You don’t go into politics and set yourself up on that high a stage to be ‘nice,’ and if your skin isn’t thick enough to go to the mat for what you believe is right, you shouldn’t be there.  I’m not really looking to elect the ‘nicest’ person. I’m looking for someone who has a realistic understanding of the issues at hand and will be a leader who is looking for what’s best for the country and whose view of what’s best for the country is closer in alignment with my own. I don’t really care if he’s so ‘nice’ that he sits back and doesn’t clearly articulate important issues. If refusing to allow your postion on very important issues to be misrepresented is being a bully, well, so be it. And I don’t blame Mitt Romney one bit for insisting on attempting to get what he wanted said said. THAT is what the debates are supposed to be about. Call me goofy, but I’d rather do away with artifical time limit rules and such and actually give each candidate time to actually spell out their positions. Because serious issues need much more than 2 minutes or a sound bite to lay out the foundation and rationale.

I just finished reading Atlas Shrugged, a very long, at times, to me, tedious book. I didn’t agree with Ayn Rand’s atheism, obviously, but I did find much to agree with and at least think on in her understanding of how capitalism works and how dangerous the entitlement worldview is to a country and a people. Her main character spends pages and pages and pages expounding on his philosophy, and let me tell you, a mere sound bite would never have encapsulated what he was trying to say. That’s true of any complex issue that people need to discuss. 

Another thing about sound bites is that they can be spun any way the media and listeners want to spin them when they are devoid of their context. A Twitter twit may be witty and pithy, but devoid of context it’s open to the interpretation of the reader. A quote may be an awesome quote, but taken by itself without the context that developed it, it can often be taken to mean something vastly different from what the original author or speaker meant it to mean. 

As important as political discussion is, and it IS important, I find it even more true and troubling in discussion of Christianity and the Bible that pithy little quips and short little quotes and cutesy little church sign slogans (hello??) do not adequately address complex ideas. For example, I am reading a devastatingly thoughtful and good book at the moment, The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler. I’ve been highlighting quotes on practically every page, and I’ve often started to link a quote to my Facebook page, thinking, “What an important and needful thing to say!” But every time I have stopped myself from putting out the quote, because I realized that the quote by itself devoid of the discussion in the pages and paragraphs before it that laid the foundation and context of the quote would not be nearly as powerful absent that context. Context is VITAL to understanding difficult or complex ideas. Sound bites may be pithy and interesting, but they are open to much misinterpretation if all you hear are the sound bite or the isolated quote. No matter how solid the quote, you have to have the context of the fuller development of the issue to fully grasp the meaning of the idea being conveyed. And I am not of the postmodern school of flawed thinking that says that truth is relative. No, you have to look at what the speaker or author meant and understand the full context of the issue being discussed, stop relying on your feelings and emotions solely and THINK LOGICALLY about things. Not is this true to me, or do I feel good about this, or is it ‘nice,’ but is it TRUE

And while we’re on the subject of context, this is one of the reasons I am not a huge fan of ‘favorite Bible verses.’ Hear me out for a second. We evangelicals have a bunch of favorite verses we memorize and write on coffee cups and t-shirts and toss out as encouragement and such, and many, many, many, many times we take those verses out of context and mangle the actual meaning. One of the most misused verses that comes readily to mind for me as I’m typing this is Psalm 46:10. We see that used so often to mean something like, “Don’t worry, God’s got this!” or “Just let go, and let God,” or “Be still, be calm,” in a kind of endorsement of contemplative spirituality. We usually see it written, “Be still and know that I am God.” Did you know that this is not even ALL of that verse? If you read it, the whole verse is, “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” To take this even further, have you ever read Psalm 46 in its entirety and looked at verse 10 in its context? It isn’t saying what it’s often portrayed as saying. It’s a rebuke against those who rage against God and saying that all that rebellion will be stilled before Him. It’s a word of refuge for those who trust in God, yes, but it isn’t a call to contemplative stillness, but a call to still the rebellion against God, a statement of His sovereignty over all the earth, and an affirmation that He will be exalted in the earth. There are lots of verses we do this to, take them out of context and take them to mean something they may not actually mean.That’s a dangerous thing when you are talking about the Word of God, and we shouldn’t be playing fast and loose with something so important. Context is vital.

And now you can kind of see why I’m a miserable example of a blogger in that I can’t seem to write a short post. Just using this space to hash out my thoughts. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Another Church Sign Post

While driving to band competition this weekend, we came across some more church signs. I’m kind of bummed that I lost my list that I was collecting on a scrap of paper. There were some doozies on it that I was going to share, but I can’t find the paper and can’t remember any of them. That’s probably not a bad thing. Anyway, here are some from this weekend:
“For every Goliath there is a stone.” 
Sigh. Not the point of that story, and what if the trial you’re calling Goliath isn’t meant to be stoned, what if I’m meant to walk through it to learn perseverance, what does that do to someone who encounters a trial and it’s hard and he thinks maybe he just doesn’t have enough faith, because, well, church said for every Goliath there is a stone?  I think what bothers me about it is that it’s trite and it implies that life will always be easy going for those who believe. It’s kind of a triumphalistic way of looking at life. So is the next sign.....

“Expect big things from God. He delivers.”
Sigh. It’s not all about us and our wants and expectations, and we really don’t need to be encouraged to think that way. I guess this one really depends on what we mean by expect big things. How about desiring God more for who He is and what He has already done than what big things we ‘expect’ (read that demand) from Him. How about trusting God to honor His Word, because His word is true and He is trustworthy - isn’t that a big enough thing once you start wrapping your brain around it? He owes us NOTHING. We owe Him everything. He has promised big things for those who believe, but we need to be careful to rightly divide His word and think rightly about Him. He has promised to be with us to the end and to care for His sheep, and we can trust Him in this, definitely. Absolutely our God does big things, but what if being faithful in the small things is exactly where He wants me? What if walking day in and day out and being faithful to love and serve my family and share and invest in my neighbors is the big thing I need to be about today, exactly where I’m supposed to be? Am I sinning if I’m content in the small things, too? Must we ALWAYS be looking for big things? 

I’m not at all sure I’m making sense or expressing well what I want to be saying, and I guess someone could well say I’m making too much of this, but a lot of teaching today is about looking for bigger, seeking MORE, dreaming BIG dreams, and it seems to breed a kind of discontent that I don’t think we’re supposed to nurse. If I have a burden to go and do a big thing that is biblical and in line with our calling as Christians, then get to it, yes! I'm not saying we shouldn't think big about sharing the gospel and ministering to a lost and dying world or that we should develop some kind of tunnel vision where all we see is our own little bubble and ignore the rest of the world. But there’s nothing wrong in desiring to be faithful in the daily, everyday, either. 

But one thing I fear that people hear from this message is a worldly kind of ‘big things,’ not spiritual ones, if you know what I mean. Too much Joel Osteen and prosperity stuff out there poisoning evangelicalism not to have our desired ‘big things’ be materialistically bent. I know not all pastors mean that with their dream big teaching, but I think that’s how a lot of people hear it. I spent a lot of my young adult life whining and begging for God’s direction about the BIG thing I was supposed to be doing with my life and so scared I’d miss it. What I’m beginning to realize is that to live a peaceable life in faithfulness before my God is not a small task. Not all of us are going to have BIG, known things that we do for the Kingdom. For every person in the Bible whose name we know, there were lots of other faithful believers whose names we do not know but who were faithful day in and day out, and in being faithful were part of the movement that ‘turned the world upside down.’ 

It is no small thing to faithfully teach a little Sunday School class week in and week out, or to faithfully train up children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, or to sponsor a Bible club halfway around the world, or to be actively sharing the faith with people and having the gospel cross our lips often, or whatever it is right for you to do. In all my seeking counsel from church leaders and pleading for what I was supposed to be doing, because we get it so drilled into us all the time to dream big, what I was missing was that I don’t even do the little things well sometimes. I still struggle with being faithful to share the gospel with my neighbors down the street - and that is a big thing, to understand that we are called to be salt and light and to make disciples as we go. Some of us will go far away and even have a large platform for this, and some of us will be ‘as we are going’ right here in a smaller sphere of influence, but we all have an obligation to be sharing the gospel, and that, my friends, is a big thing. And I am totally preaching to myself here. I am guilty. So, I guess the big thing I ask of God is to please grant me a heart with a burden to obey and love Him forever and to please put in me a supernatural, God-given compassion for the lost who need to hear the good news, in all things, wherever He chooses to lead me. A renewed life, a regenerated heart, THAT is a BIG thing. 

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” And on the back of the same sign, “Faith without works is dead.”
Wowza. Scripture verses, biblical thoughts, wonder what church that one is....wait a minute...that’s not even a church sign. It’s an Oil Muffler Shop. Huh. Better theology on the mechanic’s shop sign than on the churches we passed. There’s something wrong with us, evangelical church people. Seriously. Hello? Good on ya, car place people. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Releasing a Little Grammar Geek Frustration

This grates on me, and I am not trying to be unkind, but this is not the first time I’ve seen this mistake written or typed out since moving here to Kentucky, and here it occurs twice in one paragraph. Makes me wonder if the dialect here has prevented someone from realizing it is a mistake. However, it’s one thing to speak with an accent, but it is another to not be able to spell this word correctly on paper. To be clear, I am not knocking dialects and regional accents. I find different accents to be interesting and life would be boring if we all sounded exactly alike. BUT we don’t WRITE in dialect when it’s a paper that reflects on an organization professionally. A Harvard graduate would write it as 'Harvard,' even though he might say it as, "Hahvad."  Do you see it? Other parts of the country tend to look down on us in this part of the country as being kind of backward, so let’s not give them any ammunition, okay? I constantly have to correct my daughter when she is saying this word, because what she wants to be saying and what she’s actually saying do not mean the same thing. They are different words. And it drives the grammar geek in me up the wall.
According to

Drawl: to say or speak in a slow manner, usually prolonging the vowels. (And yes, in KY many of us do speak this way. :-)Therefore ‘drawling’ would be a progressive form of ‘drawl,’ and would have to do with a certain manner of speaking, yes?)

And for ‘Drawing,’ definition #5 will suffice: something decided by drawing lots; lottery.

DRAWL does not equal DRAW, and DRAWLING does not equal DRAWING. 

(And yes, 'return' is spelled wrong, too.)

Thank you. Carry on.

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Birthday Post

And a very happy birthday to my favorite 14-year-old. Yep. Joshua's turning 14 today. Fourteen years ago today we were welcoming our first child into the world. I know it's cliche, but wowza is time flying. My firstborn is now taller than I am, I almost can't believe that deep voice he's all of a sudden developed which no longer sounds anything like the little guy he once was, and I'm so pleased to see him growing and maturing as he is. My prayer is that he will grow in wisdom and faith as he seeks God and seeks to know His word. I've enjoyed watching him bloom as he's gotten to join the high school marching band this year and has found something he really likes doing and is doing well with his trumpet. Even more, I am thoroughly enjoying and challenged by the discussions we have as he asks really great questions about faith, God, Jesus, life, politics, things he's learning in school, you name it, and how to think biblically in a gospel-centered way when confronted with ideas and thoughts along life's way. Joshua, your enthusiasm for asking questions keeps me in the Word, and that's a great thing for all of us. I love you, Joshua!

Monday, October 01, 2012

October 1 - Random Thoughts to Keep the Blog Alive

Limping the blog along to see another day, I just realized I haven’t posted anything since September 6. I didn’t even celebrate the beginning of Autumn here at the ol’ Sweet Tea place. I did celebrate the beginning of Autumn, but I somehow neglected to write about it here. Life has been busy. Busy, I say.

So, it being the first of October and all, I think I’ll do a little ‘here I am, I still intend to blog in this space’ post in bullet points. Kind of like a status report, but without the creativity.
  • Fall/Autumn has begun. I am happy about 
  • this. The leaves have started turning, something pumpkinish was baking in the grocery store bakery when I visited there this morning, and smelled GOOD, temperature is beginning to cool outside, Christmas music is playing at Walmart (grr! ack! stop it already!!!), the scarecrow family is out by my front porch. I like. 
  • As I type I’m sipping a cup of afternoon coffee with homemade pumpkin spice creamer and contemplating whether tonight would be a good night to bake a pumpkin pie or whether my waist line would be more appreciative if I were to wait until I had a less caloric dinner planned. 
  • Dinner, did I mention dinner? Drizzly, gray, chilly day today, so I have a pot of ham and bean soup simmering on the stove. I’m quite excited about it. The children will be less so, but they just don’t know a good thing when it’s sitting there in a bowl in front of them. I also have yeast rolls rising. They will be pleased about that. My mother will probably think I’m cheating, but the little yeast rolls are from the freezer section of our local Kroger. I may not have mixed and rolled them, but they are rising on my counter and these little lovelies taste better than any I’d make from scratch. And Drew thinks they’re homemade and even posts about them on Facebook when I bake them, so, shhhhhh. Oh, and fried okra is on the menu for tonight, too. Just because fried okra is probably one of the best things ever. But that’s why I think pumpkin pie will have to wait.
  • Speaking of the grocery store, I am all kinds of excited to have finally discovered Aldi. I was complaining recently about how much we’ve been spending on groceries now that my boys have inexplicably grown taller than me and are no longer eating like little boys but can clean out the pantry like nobody’s business. Several friends mentioned trying Aldi. I thought, “I shop pretty smart at my usual store, I don’t know how it could really be any cheaper, but so many people have suggested it, it’s worth a try.” Wowza. Was it ever. Of course, I still have to go to Kroger for certain things (yeast rolls anyone?), but it sure has helped to split up my shopping. If you have an Aldi near you, try it. I’m a fan.
  • On to reading. I haven’t updated my reading list in a while because I have been reading this super long book that is taking me FOREVER to finish. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Good night, but this is a long book. Drew had to read it as “recommended reading” for that Army class he took last spring which had him away from home for 4 months, and he said I should read it so we can also watch the movie (second half of which is being released this month) and discuss. So I am. Slowly. Did I mention it is LONG? Interesting and I’m aware that it is Ayn Rand’s definitive work which spells out her worldview, which I do not endorse. She does a nice job of showing how dangerous a socialistic view of government/economy is, though, but I don’t agree with all of her premises. The eery thing is that as I’m reading along I find that her more socialistic characters (who are NOT the heroes of the book, but are the VILLAINS) sound eerily like our current president. I’m talking like word-for-word quotes almost. Creepy when I was reading one character’s rant about how an innovative industrialist who sweated and struggled for years to invent a new, stronger, cheaper to develop kind of metal didn’t invent that on his own. Sounded just like our president’s now infamous “you didn’t build that” speech. Anywho. I will be glad when this election is over. It’s going to be a nasty few more weeks, I’m thinking, and I have no confidence I’ll like the outcome. I’ve been doing lots of thinking, and I know who I’m voting for, and I think I can do it with confidence, seeing as I don’t trust our current president AT ALL. I can say I’m super glad my hope isn’t in government, and I wish we evangelicals hadn’t gotten ourselves into the position where most people think that we believe that it is. But that is probably another whole blog post.
  • Speaking of worldviews and politics, I had an interesting demonstration the other day that there are fundamentally different and opposing worldviews working in our culture today. Someone on Facebook posted a picture of Paul Ryan with scare quotes of all the things we'll 'lose' if he and Mitt Romney are elected. The thing is, I'm sure this person is confident that all those things she listed there would make us 'dummies' sit up, take notice and say, "Hey! I didn't know that! What was I thinking, thinking I might vote for him?" But the thing is, all those things on the list that were supposed to scare me to the other side were things I believe in and are things that make me more inclined to vote for the guy rather than less. It just hit me solidly in the face with how vastly different my worldview is from someone who would post that. We do not see things at all in the same way, and it's not really a matter of information or lack of it, but a difference in how we view the world and what we believe is important and right altogether. And that is why I'm not at all convinced that Facebook is a useful tool for political discourse. Too hard to have a real discussion of the real issues in that forum, I'm finding. But that, too, is probably better left to a whole other post.
  • Back to speaking of reading, I’m wanting to hurry up and finish reading that long thing so I can get started on the book I just purchased for my NOOK, The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler. Really looking forward to reading it.
  • Busy. Did I mention how busy we’ve been? My oldest son has entered the crazy world of high school marching band. He’s an 8th grader, but had the opportunity to march with the high school band this Fall. He likes it a lot, even though it means LONG practices and LOTS of contest Saturdays. I have thoroughly enjoyed watching him bloom this year and find his niche. My middle boy is playing football. He likes it. I think. He’s also started playing trombone in the middle school band. Is it wrong for me to hope band wins out? I am trying to like football, really I am. I do enjoy seeing my boy enjoy it. So between football and band, family dinner has become a rarity this fall, but we’re making it happen as often as we can. And little sister gets to go along to all these practices for the ride. The other day when we got to see the band compete, as they marched onto the field and began playing, she moaned, loudly, “Aw, they ALWAYS play this song!” Yep. Every. Single. Day. Over. And. Over. Once October is done, life will settle back down to some semblance of normal again, we think.
  • Alrighty, then. That’s probably enough for this post.