Sunday, May 31, 2009

American Patriot's Bible: The Word of God and the Shaping of America, Richard G. Lee (editor)

I was so excited waiting for delivery of "American Patriot's Bible: The Word of God and the Shaping of America," edited by Richard G. Lee and published by Thomas Nelson. When the box arrived it was surprisingly heavy. This Bible (NKJV) is hardcover, 9.1 x 7.4 x 1.9 inches in size, and has a shipping weight of 3.7 pounds. My first impression of the book was that it was too large to become a handy reference or to take with me for casual reading.

When I requested this book I was hoping to find that it used biblical references to uphold the principles of liberty and democracy that are the cornerstones of American government. Instead, as I read, this Bible gave me an unsettling view of America as God's promised land. I am both a patriot and a Christian, but the concept that we are special and blessed by God above other nations makes me feel very uncomfortable.

There are lots of interesting historical tidbits scattered throughout this edition. I think the overall effectiveness of this Bible would be improved if it were split into a two book set- the NKJV Bible and a companion book with all of the historical tidbits, speech excerpts, and other commentary. While the "American Patriot's Bible" is advertised as a study bible, I don't think it really is. Instead it is a collection of short biographies, parts of speeches, and historical trivia compiled between the pages of the Bible.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

What is marriage?

______, I take you to be my wife/husband from this time onward, to join with you and to share with you all that is to come: to give and to receive, to speak and to listen, to inspire and to respond, and in all circumstances of our life together to be loyal to you with my whole life and all my being, until death parts us. -adapted from the Lutheran Book of Worship

How do you define marriage? I'm not talking about the Prop 8 debate. What I would really like to know is how you define your marriage. What is important to you? Why did you get married? How did you choose your mate? What value do you place on marriage? Does religion or faith affect your view of marriage?

Our marriage occurred on Nov. 4, 2000 in a Lutheran Church. We formed a covenant marriage which includes three individuals- Dave, me, and God. Faith does figure into our marriage. It was (and is) important to me to have God as part of our relationship. Together, the three of us, can handle any challenges.

Legally, all of our assets are combined (although Dave keeps telling me that in the event of a divorce he gets to keep my college dishes- since I gave them to him while we were dating when I bought new ones). We share our bank accounts, our pantry, responsibility for our children, housework, yardwork, and cheesecake. There is not much individual ownership within our household. Within the confines of our own walls we are a benevolent socialist dictatorship. Dave and I make the laws, most goods are shared, individuals recieve commodities based on their needs rather than their contribution to the household (everyone contributes to the household).

After almost nine years of marriage we are no longer newlyweds. Life has sometimes been challenging, sometimes fun, sometimes sleep deprived, and always joyful (except when it's not). We had our first child right before our first anniversary (missed it by three days!). Our third child was born two weeks before our first kid turned four. That means we have not spent a lot of time alone during our marriage. I think our biggest challenge will come when the kids leave home and we're simply a husband and wife instead of Dad and Mom.

I love my husband and love does enter into our marriage. We have been growing children for all but 3 months of our marriage, but I don't think marriage is about the children- they're just a byproduct of our union (wow, that sounds vaguely pornographic).

Marriage is a relationship more enduring than mere friendship. We are committed for life and beyond to this individual we each chose back when we were young, thin, and lacking maturity. Together we have grown, changed, and endured. Endurance sounds bleak and a bit harsh, but it isn't. Endurance is what it's all about.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Don't take it for granted.

A threat to freedom anywhere is a threat to freedom everywhere. The loss of freedom comes slowly and slips into our lives in non-threatening ways. Smoking's bad for you- let's make it illegal to smoke anywhere outside of your home. Guns can be dangerous- let's make it harder to purchase them. Education is important- let's implement lots of testing and mandate that all children learn the same thing at the same time. Seat belts save lives- let's make it a crime not to wear one. Speaking out against the current administration is seditious- let's start wire tapping the phones of citizens who speak out against our elected officials.

It's easy to turn the other way when you see someone losing freedoms- as long as it's not your freedom that' being encroached upon. I'm allergic to cigarette smoke. Heck- I stand upwind when burning ditches in the spring because I simply hate smoke.  A smoking ban in restaurants sounds like good news to me! All that nasty smoke is bad for me. You shouldn't be able to smoke in my presence. In fact, why don't you just quit smoking? I think there should be a law dealing with that. 

Forget the right of a private property owner to choose how to use his own property. Forget my right to patronize a non-smoking business. It's just plain common sense to force people to quit smoking. I don't smoke. My friends don't smoke. Heaven knows my children should not ever smoke. That guy who lives down the road- it should be a crime for him to smoke.

Ok, maybe I don't really think it should be a crime to smoke cigarettes. They are really gross though. I don't smoke and neither do my friends or family members. So... if you want to pass laws criminalizing smoking I won't support them- but I won't oppose them either. Anti-smoking laws don't affect me.

A threat to freedom anywhere is a threat to freedom everywhere. What happens when it's parental rights at stake? What if the mainstream media goes after homeschooling parents or private religious schools? When it's our turn to give up our freedom- who will stand for us? Who will stand with us? We are not a majority. If majority rule is what it's all about and the majority are apathetic towards our choice- will we retain the freedom to educate our children as we see fit?

Common sense is not something that should (or can) be legislated. Yes, it's good common sense to always know where your children are and keep them safe. Does that mean a parent is criminally negligent if they allow a child to climb a tree? Is it ok to climb the tree so long as the child doesn't fall out of the tree? Is it ok to fall out of the tree so long as no bones are broken? If the child falls and gets scratches and bruises should that be grounds to terminate parental rights? This may seem like a meaningless argument- but it's the direction we're headed.

When you try to legislate morality and good common sense you quickly criminalize many acts that aren't truly criminal. Government should not be so bulky and all encompassing that normal people live in fear of accidentally breaking the law. Laws should exist only for the most extreme situations (murder and assault being quite extreme). 

Next time you hear about proposed bans on certain activities or greater government oversight for anything, ask yourself, "what happens if this law isn't passed?" Fear of what might happen allows us to trample all over other people's rights. "What if my children see that man drinking a beer? They might grow up to be alcoholics?" Of course you could talk to your kids about the lemmings jumping off the cliff. "What if my kid grows up to be gay because we gave homosexuals equal rights?" Of course your kid could grow up to be suicidal when they realize the majority of the men like women and they are going to be shunned within their family and community. "What if that kid with cancer dies because his mother allowed him to refuse chemo?" What if that kid dies anyway and spends his last year in hell on Earth because he's forced to do chemo?

Life is hard. The answers aren't easy. There is no cheat sheet to refer to when working through the trials of life. Don't allow freedom to be stolen from a few individuals just because their issues aren't your issues. Some day your freedom will come under fire. Make sure you've worked to protect others and hopefully they'll stand with you when it's your turn to fight.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Completed Projects (how few and far between they are...)

Sam took this picture by himself. It's one of my favorite pictures of the little boys.

The first part of May we were invited to a birthday party for a three year old girl. I didn't have time to go shopping so we made her a bag (what a surprise that probably is to most of my readers- all two of you).  The guinea pig food all of our friends use comes in muslin feed sacks. I've been itching to get my hands on some of them and finally a friend of ours gave me about 40 sacks. They have gotten a lot of use in sack race context. They also make great hidey holes for stuffed animals. I used one for the lining in Camryn's bag. The remnants made for some very classy wrapping paper. We are nothing if not classy.

It feels like we have been very busy with schoolwork and yardwork around here lately. Many, many weeks ago I posted pictures of my fabric for Rylee's quilt and the top for Grandma D's quilt. Today I finally have pictures of the completed Churn Dash quilt for Dave's grandma! My in-laws are headed to Burley tomorrow for Memorial Day and the quilt is complete and ready to go with them. I am so glad to finally have it off my sewing table! It would have been gone long ago but it took forever for the backing fabric to get  here.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Sam had a doctor's appointment today with the ear, nose, throat specialist. Every other time we've seen him (all 4 times that is) I've been very happy with this doctor. Today I'd like to write a letter of complaint to him. The only thing stopping me is that I'm worried I'm PMSing and possibly took things the wrong way. 

Two weeks ago I took Sam to his pediatrician because he was complaining that his ear hurt. Since he has tubes in his ears I was worried that this meant he had lost a tube and now had an ear infection. Before he got the tubes Sam had such a bad infection it bulged the ear drum out. He was asymptomatic. No fever. No tugging at the ear. No complaining of pain. Just speech delayed. 

In Sam's entire life he's been on oral antiobiotics three times. He took them when he was six months old and had a sinus infection in conjuction with his bout with yersinia enterolytica. After  his surgery to place the tubes Sam took antibiotics for 10 days. Two weeks ago, after using a CT scan to diagnose, Sam was given two weeks of antibiotics to treat a very bad sinus infection. Sam turns five next month.

Today we returned to the ENT office for a follow-up on the sinus infection. Three days ago Sam's nose started to run again. As each day passes the mucus gains a bit more color. I mentioned this to the P.A. He told me (after examining Sam's adenoids) that we needed to keep Sam on a nasal spray (Veramyst) and "irrigate" his nose with saline at least three times a day. I asked him how to go about "irrigating" Sam's nose without having to hold him down.

He told me that he was the wrong man to ask. The gist of his comments concerned lecturing me about overuse of oral antibiotics (because apparently parents like me are at real risk of overusing antibiotics). He also told me that he'd physically restrain his daughter (the same age as Sam) in order to treat her. Saline works as well as oral antibiotics in fighting chronic sinus infection- this is good to know. It wasn't until the end of the conversation that he finally thought to describe the process of "irrigating" the nose. 

You have to understand that the last time a medical professional mentioned irrigation to me it was as I was using much of my own body weight to hold down a pygmy goat undergoing a c-section. When she talked of "irrigating" she meant, "pour a couple gallons of warm, sterile, saline over the incision so that I can look for bleeders." The doctor today apparently meant "moisten by spraying bottled saline up his nostril for half a second."

Did the man start out telling me how to treat Sam's nose? No, instead he lectured me about my parenting skills (since I'm opposed to holding my children down and treating them- instead I like to treat them as creatures of reason) and about overuse of antibiotics (yet, the bulk of antibiotics Sam has taken were prescribed by him- twice).

Central to my parenting philosophy has always been a deep respect for my children. I will not hold any of them down three times a day for medical treatment. They deserve better. Doctors should be able to offer advice about treatment that doesn't include physical restraint for almost five year olds. I didn't ask for a different solution- just advise about how to implement his instructions. 

Twenty years of working with horses has taught me that brute force is rarely needed and often causes way more harm than good. Sam won't be five and weigh 42 pounds for very long. I need to establish a relationship with him that is founded on trust. Sometimes he needs to do things that are scary or unpleasant. How can I get him to do those things once he's as big as I am if I treat him as if his fears and needs don't matter now? Sure, in an emergency I have no problem restraining him when it's for his own good- but three times a day, every day? No way. There has to be a better way to gain compliance. Of course it would be helpful if the doctor explained the treatment better. Irrigate. Moisten. Totally different actions. 

Monday, May 11, 2009

Oh dear! Chris has learned to surf the web!

 I think it's time to activate my parental controls feature for the internet. Chris has learned to surf the net. He loves youtube! Since he frequently searches "bunny" and "rabbit" I'm a bit concerned about him finding "bunnies" that are not lagomorphs!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Reflections on ceremony, death, and hope

Does anyone ever enjoy attending a funeral? It's not a happy occasion. The "man of the hour" is not able to actively participate or contribute to the remarks (as you know he would have liked). Most difficult of all- if the life you're celebrating is that of a person you usually hang out with when attending funerals- the loss is even more apparent. When the speakers say something entirely too preachy or serious it's automatic to look towards Uncle K- but today he wasn't there. I mean his body was there- in a box- at the front of the room. But to quote Matthew 28:6, "He is not here, he is risen," and he is sorely missed.

Unfortunately, Dave's family has provided me with the opportunity to attend many funerals in the past 10 years. I've only attended 3 funerals for friends and family on my side in the same amount of time. Ten years is a long time for reflection about what I do, and do not, like at any given funeral. My husband will think me very macabre, so we won't tell him what this post is about and he most likely won't ever read it on his own. If I die, could someone please print out my wishes in time to plan the funeral around them?

I love music and singing. When I die I'd love to have lots of music and singing. My absolute favorite hymns are:  1. Simple Gifts,  2. Bringing in the Sheaves, and  3. Joyful, Joyful. I'm also rather fond of, "How Great Thou Art," but it's so common at funerals that you don't have to sing it at mine (unless you want to).

If the pastor gives a sermon at my funeral I would like it to be about hope, promise, service, and the enduring nature of love. I do not want the officiating person (or any other speaker) at my funeral to speak about:  1. Tithing, 2. The work we must do to earn a place in heaven, 3. My late acceptance of the importance of the church organization (which hasn't happened yet, and may never happen), 4. The importance of obedience to church doctrine (because we all know that I only really care about Love God and love one another- I could care less about conforming to church doctrine), and 5. The opportunity my death gives all the people attending my funeral to accept the Lord as your Saviour (It's not that I don't think that's important- funerals just aren't the place for recruiting new people).

You may talk about service to others (but only if it makes me sound good and actually applies to the live I've led). It would be acceptable to talk about Jesus and the resurrection and how that event gave us all everlasting life (but I'll haunt you if you suddenly shout, "Come to me Jesus!" or begin swaying and moaning). I'd really like the religious part of the event to last fewer than five minutes and it should be something that is comforting (seriously, if there is talk of tithing at my funeral I'll haunt everyone who was there and let that sort of talk occur). 

My favorite type of funeral occurs in small, rural churches where all the people in the community know each other. The pastor speaks of the glory and mercy of God. He reminds us that life everlasting is ours once we part from the Earthly realm. Then (after a very brief sermon- like 3 to 5 minutes) the pastor passes the microphone through the congregation and invites everyone to share their memories of the deceased. It's amazing to hear how lives were touched, history was made, and love endured throughout any given individuals life.  

Death is a natural part of life. It's hard on those of us who have to move forward without the companionship of our loved ones but I think that we owe it to them to celebrate a life well lived. We owe the widows, the children, and the friends of the deceased the opportunity to know that our lives were touched, our hearts were changed, or simply that we are better people for having known the person who is missing from our gathering that day.

I can't even begin to put into words how much we'll miss Uncle K. He was a unique individual (as all of the Anderson's are truly, amazingly, hilariously unique). Watching the Anderson siblings was more entertaining than any television show I've ever seen. Aunt Barbara, Aunt Betty, Uncle K, and Larry - I keep trying to type what it's like watching this group and the words won't come. They are close. They play tricks on each other (especially Barbara and K). I hope my boys are that close when they are grown.  There's so much I'd like to say, but the words just won't come in any coherent form- except- Sam is rotten, and sweet, joking, and serious... and he very much reminds me of K. Every time we'd see K and Sam would be ornery (which occurs pretty much every day) I'd blame K- and he would grin.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Book Review: His Name is Jesus by Max Lucado

This book is beautiful! It is a feast for the senses. The pages are filled with beautiful pictures, verses from the Bible, and Lucado's own prose. Truly a gift book, the presentation is beautiful. The book is encased in a hard sleeve, it's printed on heavy weight glossy paper. My children love looking through the book simply because it is beautiful. 

Even though the story of Jesus is a familiar one, Lucado's writing caused me to look at what I thought I knew of Jesus and reconcile it with what we know of humanity. "Completely human, completely divine," The book reads like a series of short essays which makes it perfect for reading out loud to our children. While reading this book my 4 year old realized for the first time that Jesus was once a four year old boy- just like him. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who would like to refresh their memories of Christ's story. It makes a wonderful starting point for family Bible study!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Amy- Ideas?

A friend of mine gave me a bunch of muslin feed sacks. I'm trying to figure out how best to use them. Grocery bags? Tote bags? Bread bags? I really like bags. Can you tell? I promised to make her something out of a few of them to use in the cavy club's raffle at one of the upcoming shows. I've been tossing around the idea of making one of the origami bags and figuring out how to add straps.  The muslin is quite thin so I think it would work best to layer batting scraps between two pieces of muslin and quilt the whole cloth. Then I  could bind the edge with something colorful and attach (somehow) wide straps which have also been layered with batting and quilted.

Does anyone have a suggestion for me? Has anybody else made fun, useful, and inexpensive things using muslin? I've debated making pillowcase dresses out of some of them but the boys don't think they'd be fun to wear :-) I can't imagine why not.

Jake camping in the living room

Jake camping in the living room