Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Einstein's Legs

I just had that awkward moment...when Einstein's legs are way hotter than yours.

And he's wearing sassy sandals.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Gays In Church

Philippians 2: 1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.
Do Everything Without Grumbling

12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”[c] Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.

No, the above verses aren't about homosexuality.  Usually on this subject, people refer to the 'clobber passages' (interesting name, huh?) But it is about how to be a Christian, and as I was reading it this morning, I found it applicable.

58% of Christians ages 18-24 call Christianity "anti-gay" and 79% of non-Christians in the same age bracket agree.  So, this age group in churches is shrinking.  About 1/3 choose to unaffiliate themselves with the church in general.

A 2011 survey by the Public Religion Research Institute shows  44% of white evangelicals aged 18-29 in support of marriage equality compared to only 12 percent of those 65 and older.   (I don't know why the white part is pertinent but I don't want to skew or misrepresent the facts I read, so I'm leaving it.)

According to the same survey, nearly 70% of young Christians also agree that religious groups are alienating young people because of gay and lesbian issues.

Why is the church's primary message that is reaching people a message of "anti" anything?  Why isn't it Christ's love?  Grace?  What are we doing wrong that we are most known for our rantings about politics, parties, policies and people?

I read recently that 84% of homosexuals were raised in a household of faith.  Where are those people now?  I don't see them in church.  Why?  Because the church has told them they can't be gay and have a relationship with the Lord.  I'm glad that all of the things about me that people find unacceptable haven't kept me from a relationship with Him, or joining His church.   Why don't we open our doors, our homes and our arms to all human beings, and let them work out their own salvation with fear and trembling like each of us had to, and let them live for Christ to the best of their ability like each of us do, and give them a shot of a faith filled life in a body of believers, instead of telling them they can't. By telling these children of God that they cannot be a Christian and gay at the same time, we have done our part to guarantee that they don't live for Him or make it to Heaven.

Are we showing humility in this area, or are we unmoving and overbearing?  Are we being real servants to others and messengers of His gift of salvation and light?  Are we doing things in vain?  Are we grumbling and arguing and isolating?

Here is a beautiful article about a group of Christians who went to a gay pride parade without protest signs.

The goodness of God calls men to Him!  Are we Christians known best for His goodness?  No, I'm sorry to say, we aren't.

"Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples."  John 13:35

PS.  This blogger says some of the things I think in response to the question "What if you're wrong" more indelicately than I would, but makes some good points.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Caring For Mental Health

I was talking with a friend recently who was hesitant to tell people that a loved one was getting mental health care.  During the conversation, this stuck out to me: "We treat our bodies when they aren't well, why is it so hard to admit sometimes our brains aren't well and need help too?"

Why is there such a stigma about treating mental health?  We treat our bodies.  We need to be sure to treat our brains too when they aren't working correctly.

I've been to therapy. There have been times I have needed medication.  Sometimes I just needed someone to use as an unbiased sounding board to help me sort out difficult situations.

I was talking to some therapists at the children's hospital, because Philip's long term special needs have really been taking a toll on us.  They said that there has been a big increase in people seeking therapy and mental wellness measures in my generation and the current generation.  They said they wished more people were willing to get help.

You might not need therapy...but maybe a loved one does.  Maybe someone you care about is already getting help but isn't confident in sharing.  So my advice is, get help if you need help, and be supportive when others do.  There is no shame!  Be proactive in fighting the stigma!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Boundaries vs Barriers

What's the difference between a boundary and a barrier?  Let's take a look...

  1. 1.
    a line that marks the limits of an area; a dividing line.

  1. 1.
    a fence or other obstacle that prevents movement or access.

The difference is, when it comes to relationships- one will protect you, and the other will hurt you.

It can be difficult, especially when you've been hurt, to open yourself up to people and new situations.  It feels easier to turn inward and put up barriers around yourself for protection.  But eventually, isolation will harm you.  You have needs and you are needed.  You need a community and a community needs you.  I feel so strongly about community.

For me, life had hurt me deeply.  I had every reason and bad experience in the book to convince myself that I was better off alone, in my little bubble.

It took me a lot of time to learn that I would've been better off learning to put up reasonable boundaries, versus what I had done- shut myself in and shut others out with barriers.

I learned how to put myself out there with appropriate boundaries.  It was hard, but I taught myself how to be honest and up front with my feelings and my expectations.  Doing this let me bring new people into my life, and let me step out into new situations, without fear of what would happen.  It was incredibly freeing.

I learned quickly that the people who were not comfortable with appropriate boundaries were not safe people to have in my life.  Communities are made up of safe people who recognize boundaries.  I shouldn't have unsafe people in my life anyhow, so these life lessons were a little painful but ultimately restorative.  Life was better and safer when my boundaries removed these people from being in a position to hurt me.

Here is a great example that happened recently.  Our son was just out of the hospital.  I was tired. Overwhelmed.  Everyone was stressed.  A good friend who has been like a mother/sister figure to me called and said she wanted to bring over some church friends to pray for us.  I told her no.  My house was a mess. I was tired and frustrated and didn't want the intrusion.  She was open with me.  She told me that she loved me and felt pride was getting in the way of receiving a blessing.  She offered to bring over a group of church ladies to clean up the house.  I was being prideful.  I accepted the help, even though it pained me to do it. Then we agreed to have the prayer night.  It was a blessing.

There are other people who wouldn't have respected my boundaries or listened to me or offered to help. They would have either ignored us completely in our time of need, or steamrolled me and my wishes and done what they thought was best instead of working it out for mutual satisfaction.

This situation showed me that I have also learned better to recognize and respect the boundaries that other people have put up, and to speak up for myself when I feel uncomfortable.  She was able to tell me how she felt without me attacking her, and vice versa.  It showed me that I had put up a barrier, not a boundary.  When I broke down the barriers, and put up appropriate boundaries instead, it turned out beautifully.  This was a safe relationship.  I could have kept up my barriers and been robbed of this relationship and the blessing of prayer and a good scrubbing of the floors if I hadn't been putting into practice this principle.

Boundaries are great.  They give you room to move around.  They give others room to reach you...but there is still protection there.

Barriers will imprison you and keep you isolated from a world that could hurt you but could also help you.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Toothpaste Says A Lot...

So.  I was looking at our toothpaste yesterday.  I noticed that John's said "Great Regular Flavor."

GREAT REGULAR FLAVOR?  What kind of a description is that?  What is "regular flavor"?

It struck me that this is exactly how John would have described him if I'd asked him.

So I looked at MY toothpaste.  "Shinier, whiter, brilliant, LUSTROUS" are all descriptors on the tube.

This is men and women in a nutshell.  Or at least, it's me and John.  We use ten words when a man will use three.

Toothpaste actually says a lot about us.  That's my deep thought for today...

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Where Have I Been?

Forgive me if the following post doesn't always seem coherent- I have made countless phone calls this afternoon and typing up a blog post is a great 'I've been on hold all day' activity.  Along with Pinterest.

The past few months have been a whirlwind.  It all started with the kids having the opportunity to go to a great private school nearby, thanks to their loving grandparents.  They are thriving there.  No more homeschooling for us!  So, I decided to go back to school, and doing the sensible thing like I always do...I signed up for a full load of four classes.

A few weeks in, I started having exacerbated health symptoms that became worrisome- but like usual, I put those aside.  I had too much else to do.  I'd already been ignoring the small symptoms for years...until one day in class I thought I was having a heart attack.  I went straight to my doctor who probably thought "who are you?"  (PS. self care is going to be a big theme for me in 2014).  They listened to my heart and ran an EKG.  It turns out I have a pretty common heart condition.  (It isn't lost on me that the title of my blog involves the heart...and that currently the status is 'faulty')  Common but moderately severe in my case.  I am now on beta blockers which are relieving a few of my symptoms. 

My son, who has had genetic kidney problems since birth, has been in a really rough stage with his health for a few years now; growth is really really good most of the time; but is presenting new challenges to his already challenged body.  He has always had issues, but nothing like this.  He was in the hospital on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas, etc.  He has had countless kidney infections and had major surgery in December.  Earlier this week, he was in the hospital again.  He goes in tomorrow for another small procedure followed by a few weeks of treatment. 

I bet you can guess that by the end of the semester the number of classes I was taking was a big fat ZERO.  I felt like a failure (and sometimes have moments where I still do) but I did what is best for my family.  If I want to go to school, there will be time when they are adults.  There's no way I could work or go to school right now, no matter how much I want to.

It has been a really challenging couple of months, which doesn't leave much room for blogging.  I love writing and sharing though, so I hope to spend more time here soon. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

52 Week Money Saving Challenge

A friend of mine brought this savings plan to my attention; I don't know the original source for credit, but it is an amazing idea and I wanted to share it here!

Most families can't just put a thousand bucks plus into savings on a whim, but you can put a dollar here and a dollar there...and over time, it adds up!

I set up a free interest earning Capital One 360 account (formerly ING).  I've used them for years with zero issues; and they have great customer service.  I set up automatic transfers from my checking account, one a week.  Every Thursday a small amount will go straight to savings and I won't miss it!

You can print up the chart above and tape it to a mason jar, but cash would be too tempting for me- I know everyone is different though, so there are many ways to do this that will fit your family best!

There are variations to this; some people alternate- small week, big week, so a hit isn't taken too big at the end of the year.  So, for example:

Week 1
Week 52
Week 2
Week 51

I like to do it this way to get a little more interest accruing.

Some double it so there is almost 3k in there at the end of the year!

What will YOU save for over the next year?

Friday, January 3, 2014

Why I Will Never Buy Microwave Popcorn Again!

*links to Popper and popcorn below*
*links to articles from reputable sources about microwave popcorn concerns below*

We love popcorn.  I pretty much go to the movies for the popcorn.  My 11 year old son eats popcorn frequently.  He has significant health problems though, and I decided that I needed to watch what he ingests a little more closely- so as time has passed, we use the microwave less often, we eat less sodium, and try to eat fewer prepackaged foods. (Don't ask me if I just scarfed down some leftover Christmas cookies made from a boxed mix.  Just don't.)

But I still allowed the frequent treat of microwaved popcorn.  Until I read about the chemicals involved, and found out that there was an inexpensive, healthy and delicious way to do it differently.

This popcorn popper was recommended to me and I found it for a steal on Amazon.  The reviews are great- many people have had it for years and years and it is still going strong.  I like that I can customize our popcorn flavors by popping plain corn and adding toppings later.  There aren't unpopped kernels to deal with.  It takes 2-3 minutes, same as a bag of microwave popcorn!  It's pretty cost effective; I think it will be way cheaper for us than traditional microwave popcorn.

I couldn't lose!  We used it immediately and we loved it.  It is easy to use. It tastes better than microwave popcorn; more like movie theater popcorn!  Score!  I get the popcorn from Amazon through the Subscribe and Save program I already love.  An added bonus is that popcorn is naturally low calorie and high fiber!  As my wise Uncle told me when I was younger- the older you get, the more important fiber becomes to you.  And it is SO true!


You can buy the popcorn here.
You can buy the popper here.

Here's an article from the Huffington Post about the toxins in microwave popcorn.  
Discovery Health covered it too.
AARP is getting in on the action!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Sky's The Limit...

Howdy ho, neighbor.  I've been gone awhile.  That will be a whole other post.  But I thought I'd ring in the new year with this little nugget...