Friday, October 31, 2008


In light of some recent events in our family, I'm going to be taking a little break from blogging. I don't know how long I'll be gone, but in the meantime I could use a prayer or two. Anyway, blessings to you and yours.


P.S. If you have a chance on Monday, check out RelzReviewz for a Character Spotlight on Julia.

Monday, October 27, 2008


Aaron and I had houseguests this weekend (if you've been following my blog for a while you know that this is sort of a regular occurance in our home). Anyway, I didn't get any writing, editing, blogging, laundry, or much of anything else done. It was wonderful. Especially because our houseguests were a a fabulous team of people from YWAM (Youth With a Mission). Jeff's specialty is Afghanistan, Elaine and her family have hearts for China, and Tinika hopes to work with African-American people in the US to promote missions within their communities. Exciting stuff, all of it. And for some reason it's empowering just to be around them--to hear their stories, learn about their passions, and see the Kingdom of God in global terms.

Though I'd love to tell you all about our conversations and what YWAM is accomplishing worldwide, I'm going to leave the ball in your court today. I encourage you to check out the YWAM website or just take a moment to pray for these amazing people who make it their life's ambition "to know God and to make him known." We may not all be called into missions overseas, but I think the YWAM motto is applicable to each and every Christian. At least I'm certainly feeling convicted.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Thoughtful Movies

Some movies you watch because you want to. Other movies you watch because you feel compelled to. Well, maybe that's not how you choose your Friday night entertainment, but Aaron and I tend to rotate through a list of fun, challenging, entertaining, and enlightening movies. It depends on the mood.

Lately it seems we've watched more than our share of thought-provoking films. The sort of movie that sticks with you for hours, days, even weeks after watching it. In the mood to think? To be pushed out of your comfort zone? Wanna spark a heated conversation? The following movies might be hard to watch, but they are beautiful in their own way. And I promise they'll get you pondering the complexities of life.

The Constant Gardener is both gorgeous and haunting. Filmed on location in Kenya, it's really a love story that goes horribly awry. Justin is a British diplomat whose activist wife, Tessa, is murdered in a remote region of Africa. As he tries to uncover the mystery behind her death, we relive their romance in the years leading up to the tragedy. Their love is bittersweet and unexpected, and seemingly doomed from the beginning. But there's more to the story than romance: underlying Justin and Tessa's relationship is her passion for social justice. I won't give anything away, but suffice it to say the movie uncovers yet another way the world uses and abuses Africa. Whether or not the allusions are true (some critics say that the film is a walk in the park compared to what really happens in Africa, while others say the claims are unfounded) The Constant Gardener definitely gets you thinking about justice issues in Africa and whether or not we are apathetic enough to yet again turn a blind eye.

Gone Baby Gone was our most recent movie venture and it's still very fresh in my mind. I do NOT recommend this film for everyone--there was a ten-minute scene in the middle that I couldn't watch at all (the word "pedophile" conjures up all manner of hatred and malice in me), but horrible rabbit trail aside, this movie had Aaron and me talking for hours. In a nutshell, Gone Baby Gone is about a little girl who has gone missing. Patrick Kenzie and his girlfriend Angie are private detectives who are hired to help find her. What ensues is a journey to hell and back as they try to figure out what happened. The problem is, once they solve the mystery, they can't help wishing they didn't. After watching the conclusion, Aaron and I argued and talked and wrestled... Is the right thing to do always the moral thing to do? The Bible says that justice is God's... But does the Lord ever use his people to mete out that justice? Are we ever allowed to "take matters into our own hands?" The movie's very appropriate tagline is "Everyone wants the truth... Until they find it." Is that true? Are there ever times when we are better off not knowing the truth?

We may not have come to any consensus after watching and discussing these films, but at least they got us talking... Have you seen them? Or do you have any others to add to the list? I have a feeling our next movie selection will be a few seasons of The Office (just to take a little break from all the heaviness), but I'm always on the lookout for something that will engage me...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Getting out of Politics...

Well, I've had my brief little foray into the political realm and I think I'm already more than eager to call it quits. After I wrote my Getting Political blog, I felt sick for a few days... Why does having a political opinion pose such a huge personal risk??? It wasn't my intention at all to endorse one candidate over the other, tear down Republicans or Democrats, or make my fellow church members or Christians mad at me. So, if I offended you, I apologize. All I'm really advocating is an educated, informed approach to politics.

To that end, when you have political questions or hear something that just doesn't seem right to you, I highly encourage you to check it out and get the facts. A brief rundown of a few of my favorite resources: is a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to wading through the muck of political lies, slander, and backtalk. They can answer nearly all of your political questions. Though I doubt they have a section on whether or not Obama is the Anti-Christ. ;) deals more with urban legends and other such cultural myths, although they do talk politics, too. There are tons of sections that help you locate exactly the information you're looking for. is educational to say the least. It deals with investigations into scientific hoaxes. I'm not much of a scientist, so I don't visit this particular site all that often, but my science teacher friend loves it.

Anyway, the bottom line is, I love you all: Republican, Democrat, or Independent. And for my Canadian friends, I love you whether you're Conservative, Liberal, NDP, Green Party, and even if you're Bloc Quebecois or a part of the Marijuana Party (though I do doubt your ability to understand exactly what it is you are voting for or against). I hope you still have a little love left for me, too. And, I can't help wishing that we would imitate our Canadian friends by cutting the federal election race from two years to less than forty days. Wouldn't that be grand?!? (And cheap?!?)

One last politically minded thought and then I'm done: Don't forget to vote. ;)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Getting Political...

When news about the federal election started to heat up (oh, about two years ago--ugh), I promised myself that this year I would be a quiet political activist. I’ve always been politically minded, but as an evangelical Christian growing up in these “scary times,” I spent most of my life in the expected role of staunch Republican. Isn’t every good and godly Christian a Republican? I’m learning that the answer is a resounding NO. And I’ve discovered that single issue politics is not always wise, just like it’s never a good idea to swallow anything you hear whole--especially when it comes to political propaganda.

Anyway, I vowed that I wouldn’t talk, debate, or discuss politics, much less blog about it. But here I am, breaking my own commitment to myself because when it comes down to it I just can’t stand idly by and twiddle my thumbs. Now that my code of silence is officially abolished, I’d love to expound on my political views and what brought me to the crossroads where I find myself today. But I’m not going to do that. Instead, I’m writing this afternoon because I feel a deep-down need to address something that keeps rearing its ugly head at me: political forwards. Specifically, political forwards among Christians.

Though I have received more than my share of Obama-bashing email forwards, I got one this morning that put me over the edge. For your reading pleasure…

* * *

This will make you re-think: A Trivia question in Sunday School: How long is the beast allowed to have authority in Revelation?

Revelation Chapter 13 tells us it is 42 months and you know what that is. Almost a four-year term of a Presidency.

All I can say is 'Lord, Have mercy on us!'According to the Book of Revelations: The Anti-Christ will be a man, in his 40's, of MUSLIM descent, who will deceive the nations with persuasive language, and have a MASSIVE Christ-like appeal.... The prophecy says that people will flock to him and he will promise false hope and world peace, and when he is in power, will destroy everything. Do we recognize this description??

I STRONGLY URGE each one of you to post this as many times as you can! Each opportunity that you have to send it to a friend or media outlet, do it! I refuse to take a chance on this unknown candidate who came out of nowhere.

-Dr. John Tisdale

* * *

Obama is the Anti-Christ?!?!? Wow, if I swallowed this sort of thing without thinking I'd be rapture-ready, that's for sure. But, since I don't believe in the rapture and since I think emails of this sort are full of holes, misinformation, ignorant conclusions, and downright lies, I'd rather test Mr. Tisdale's theories. My brilliant husband and I quickly discerned several reasons why this email is nothing more than fodder for the junk folder.

  1. Revelation does not explicitly say that the anti-Christ will be necessarily a man (perhaps a force? an economic structure? an ideology?) or that he will be in his 40s. Furthermore,
  2. Scripture also does NOT teach that he will be Muslim (Islam was not even created yet as a religion—Muhammad did this several centuries later). This is preposterous!
  3. Though some people interpret the book of the Revelation literally, most theologians agree that the specific numbers and time periods mentioned in Revelation are symbolic (the same way that forgiving your neighbor 70 x 7 doesn't literally mean that you should only forgive 490 times and then stop).
  4. Mr. Tisdale asserts that Obama is an unknown candidate who came out of nowhere. The truth is, Obama has been in the spotlight now for two years, and every little fact about his life, past and present, has been paraded in the media. If we are going to be concerned about an "unknown" who "came out of nowhere," shouldn't we be scrutinizing Sarah Palin, who we've known for 8 weeks?
  5. Based on the actual Scriptural rationale provided in this argument, one could argue that office of the president of the US in general IS the anti-Christ, not a particular candidate.
  6. Subtract the really poor exegetical work indicative in this email and one could argue the very same about John McCain, especially because he claims much more adamantly to be Christian. This is more in keeping with the Rev. 13 warning than one who doesn’t argue for a “Christian nation.”
  7. For the argument that we currently are “a Christian nation” to be begin with, refer to Gregory Boyd’s, The Myth of the Christian Nation. This ploy, used in emails like this is a scare tactic. It also borders on hate-mongering and ethno-profiling. The hard truth is that:
    a. Little of our current (or past) policy reflects Christ-centered values.
    b. Little of our social services reflect the social justice concerns of Scripture and its prophetic voices.
    c. Our founding fathers were primarily deists with a view of God wholly removed from the unfolding of history. In their day-and-age it was as common to write the word God into legal documentation as it is today to swear on a Bible in court (even if you don’t believe in it) or to wish someone “God bless you” when they sneeze. Let’s not look back into history with rose-colored glasses!
    d. The US was founded upon Enlightenment, Lockeian, democratic, capitalistic, individualistic ideals, not Christian ones. We’ve just been living inside the system so long that we’ve learned to baptize the language of democracy to be synonymous with Christianity. This cannot be so.

The bottom line is: Emails like this are horrible. They slander someone terribly and attempt to manipulate Scripture in order to prop up (or tear down) a particular political candidate. This absolutely cannot be what Jesus had in mind when he ushered in the Kingdom of Heaven. This is Scriptural abuse. Nothing less. (And I would say the same thing if the tables were turned.)

It's not my intention to raise up Barack Obama or tear down John McCain or Sarah Palin. I happen to deeply respect all the candidates and their obvious dedication to our country. But it saddens me when Christians participate in these sorts of ill-informed acts of character assassination and fear mongering... We are only perpetuating the popular myth that Christians are ignorant Bible thumpers with no concern for the facts. I don't care who you vote for, but please don't buy into the hateful rhetoric that both sides are slinging. You're better than that and you're smarter than that.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Quick Reviews

My husband and I were lucky enough to get away for the weekend, sans kids. Hooray! Some friends generously offered the use of their beautiful lake home in Minnesota, and we spent a few days sitting on the dock, hiking around the various islands, and reading. So peaceful and so romantic. Anyway, I got a lot of reading done. Specifically, I read two books that have been on my Must Read list for years. They were both gems and I thought I'd give you a quick rundown in case your looking for a good, fall read.

I knew within the first page that A Girl Name Zippy was my kind of book. Haven Kimmel's memoir of her youth growing up in a small town in Indiana is laugh-out-loud funny from the beginning to the end. At least, I thought so. Though the book is a memoir, it reads like a novel, or at least, a collection of deftly woven stories that keep you turning pages until the end. I couldn't put it down. Zippy (Haven's childhood nickname) is a precocious tomboy whose perspectives on life kept me in stitches. The only thing I regretted about the book was that Zippy had to grow up.

The second book I read and devoured was Quaker Summer, by Lisa Samson. Interestingly enough, if you look on my links, you'll see one for Lisa's website. She's "an author I admire." And she has been for a very long time. But though I keep up with her blog and admire the way she wrestles with real spiritual issues (from politics to social justice to living green, my kind of gal), I've never read one of her books. Until now. Quaker Summer was simply unbelievable. It made me think, it made me laugh, it made me cry. Go borrow it, buy it, or scam it from a friend, and read it. You'll be glad you did.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

My Favorite Flowers...

...are "just because." It's not my anniversary or birthday (well, it will be in a few days, but that's beside the point), I'm not sick, sad, or suffering in any way. I got these from my hubby "just because." Aren't they lovely?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Reviews & Contest

Sara Richardson at has just posted review of both After the Leaves Fall and Summer Snow. Though you may not need to read another review of my books, I highly recommend taking a moment to check out this neat website. According to what can only be deemed their mission statement, MomStories hopes to: "give moms everywhere an opportunity to discover more about faith, experience divine hope, and encounter God’s love." They have book reviews, scripture meditations, and inspirational posts about beauty, finances, health, relationships, and more. Plus, I'll be giving away a set of signed books to one lucky reader. As always, all you have to do is leave a comment. Have a great Monday!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Unlikely Heros

People continually surprise me. Just when you think you're starting to figure out this humanity thing, someone invariably pulls out all the stops and blows you away by doing the exact opposite of what you expect them to do...

Aaron and I experienced this strange phenomenon again today. We were about 70 miles from home on the outskirts of a sizable city in the Midwest. Happily chatting away, we were at first oblivious to the loud, hissing sound of all the air leaking out of our driver's side rear tire. By the time we clued in to what was happening, we were rolling on rim. Argh. Thankfully, I wasn't alone (that would have spelled certain disaster), and my husband is handy with a car jack and tire iron. However, after five chrome lug nuts spun free, the sixth one gave him some serious trouble. Aaron heaved and pushed, stomped on the wrench, worked up a sweat, and in the end the only thing he accomplished was spreading open the heavy metal casing of the tool like a flower in bloom. It was actually pretty impressive. I even laughed at the obligatory jokes about his masculine prowess, bending steel with his bare hands and all that jazz.

At this point, it hit us that we had been stranded for ten minutes or so on the side of a pretty major highway (two lanes both ways) just past a busy intersection--and no one had stopped. Maybe that's not shocking to you, but being small town people, we were very surprised that no one had bothered to see if we needed a hand. I realize this is the age of cell phones and we could have easily grabbed ours and called a tow truck. But all the same, I'd stop for someone stranded. Wouldn't you?

What happened next was as unexpected as it was touching. Three different people did end up stopping for us. But it wasn't one of the dozens of 4x4 truck drivers that sped by, even though they were obviously equipped to help. It wasn't someone you'd expect, or even someone who knew how to change a tire (though I could be misjudging my big hearted rescuers). The people who stopped to help us were: an elderly gentleman who had a difficult time getting out of his car to talk to us, a young, single mom with her 8 month old baby sleeping in the backseat, and a Gothic-looking loner with piercings and a shirt monogrammed with screaming skulls. Each person emerged smiling, asking with sincere concern if there was anything that they could do for us. And each one of them ended up playing a part in getting us to the nearby dealership where we finally got our tire fixed (the perpetrator was a rusty nail).

Anyway, our little mid-morning adventure was hardly life-changing, but it did leave me with a smile on my face. I love being surprised. And I love being reminded that you can't judge a book by its cover.