Monday, February 27, 2006

No time for dumb titles

Well, stuff has been on my mind, and Leslie's last post over at Haply Thinking has got me, uh, thinking. It's a good read.

The last time Paul and I went to the bookstore to poke around, we got into a conversation about the latest flap over hiring a gay actor to appear in the movie End of the Spear (about missionaries Nick Saint, et al.) I was clueless about this. When Paul told me about it, my first response was "for REAL?"

It seems to me like conservative Christians don't get it sometimes.

Aside from the fact that many seem to treat these movies as though they are sacred in and of themselves, I am troubled by the notion that homosexuals cannot offer anything good or beneficial to society or, most especially, to a Christian.

What, honestly, is to be gained by protesting, boycotting, complaining etc. the selection of actors in a movie? Have people somehow linked the success of a homosexual in their profession to the advancement of the homosexual agenda? If that's it, then I'd like to say... that's ludicrous.

So, that thought had been brewing for a while when I read Leslie's post. In it, she discusses Al Mohler's response to feminist Linda Hirshman. (Ms. Hirshman has recently been on TV expressing her concern over the number of educated women who are opting out of the workplace in favor of raising a family.) The post expresses her displeasure with Mr. Mohler's methods. Many of the thoughts Leslie has shared are perfect expressions some of the thoughts I have been wrestling with.

Did I say it's a good read? Well, it is.

One of the things that has stuck with me as I am reading Jim Wallis's book God's Politics is his critique of what he calls "the politics of complaint." He says:

We must never be satisfied with mere protest or complaint about the things we believe are wrong. Rather we must do the harder, more creative, and ultimately more prophetic work of finding and offering alternatives.

In this excerpt, he is specifically talking about how we approach things in the political arena. But I think it applies here.

Later on in his book, Wallis compares the civil rights movement to that of the Christian right. Both movements were largely undertaken by the Church. The civil rights movement, as he points out, sought to raise people's awareness and change the moral compass by which actions were judged. This is in contrast to the Christian right, which, from the very beginning, had a legislative agenda. "But," says Wallace, referring to the Christian right, "the critical step of persuading by moral argument and building a constituency for change was neglected." (Emphasis mine.)

Again, this is politics he speaks of. But the idea is the same: change in the hearts of men is not brought about by legislation, or by complaining, or by boycotting, or by deeming people's contributions invalid. In most cases, I think these just make people angrier and more defensive (and less likely to embrace Christ.) If we really want to see change in our society, we need to engage in the moral argument, and, above all, we need to love people. And that means seeing the good in "sinners," affirming what is good even in nonchristians, serving where we can to meet needs... letting people see Christ in us, and allowing the Holy Spirit to elicit change in people's lives.

Now, if you haven't done so already, please go read Leslie's post. IT'S GOOD!


Sunday, February 26, 2006

My day off

Saturday was very relaxing. Very, very relaxing.

A few of the deacons' wives from church got together to celebrate the birthday of our music minister's wife. We did breakfast at Bob Evans. Good time. And good whole wheat blueberry pancake, too!

I couldn't check into the hotel until noon, so I'd been throwing around ideas about what to do between breakfast and checkin. Then I learned some of them ladies were going straight from Bob's to church to set up for a fellowship dinner we had tonight. And they needed help.

I don't know why, but I love to help with that stuff. Makes me feel useful, I guess. So that was a fun way to fill the time.

I putzed around by the mall (on a Saturday, with all this construction going on and man the traffic is bad now that they put in that PF Chang's and Panera, and I don't even want to go within a 5 mile radius when they get all the other new stores in. But I digress.) The putzing landed me at Wal-Mart where I found a little box of 4 Valentine's chocolates on clearance at 75% off. As if something on 75% clearance isn't hard enough to resist, it had to be chocolate.

SO, I was eating the chocolate on the way to the library.

After the library I checked in and I sat in the room and watched one of those "we clean your house that is so cluttered that we are wading up to our knees in your laundry when we try to walk across the living room" shows. Love those home makeover kinds of shows. They showed several episodes of the same show back to back to back. It was great fun. But I did find it a little disconcerting how many ads they ran for "Urine Gone" and the Bedazzler.

Then, I thought, why sit here and be completely useless? Quilt something, fool! So I got out my quilt. Which I was very excited to work on. I thought if I tried really hard, I could finish all the quilting except the borders. So, I worked busily as I watched TV, until I got too hungry. And I was craving THE BREAD.

I found this awesome Middle Eastern restaraunt (how do you spell that?) a while back that made this phenomenal bread. So, I headed over there.

Only it was gone. It is now a Lebanese restaraunt.

I hesitated, wondering if this was the same place (it was exactly the same as the other, both inside and out) because I couldn't remember the name of the other restaurant (yeah, this spelling looks right.) Anyway, I went in because I remembered how the lady that lived a few houses away from me when I was a kid, was Lebanese. And, every so often she would make kibbi and share some with us.

If you have not tried meat kibbi, please do.

I hadn't had any since I was a kid. So I went in and lo, and behold, they had kibbi. So I ordered the lentil soup, the kibbi, some pita bread (which was extremely disappointing. But to be fair, no bread could live up to what I was anticipating) and some hummous.


Back to the hotel I downed my take out tiramisu from the Olive Garden while watching another episode of whatever it was. After that, I moved on to my QT.

On God's agenda was the clear reminder that my good deeds need to be worked out. Particularly towards my children. My selfishness gets in the way of me giving them what they need sometimes. We discussed this.

He was gracious.

He said He'd let me try again at passing the grace on to my family when I got home.

After QT, I got pumped to finish the quilting. So I found another show to watch and got so involved in it that I made two pretty big mistakes in the quilting... which I didn't notice until I had already cut the end off of my thread.

The wind was knocked out of my sails. Add to this that this quilt was never going to match the decor in my house once I start redecorating with all the ideas I have gained from these TV shows, and I was no longer motivated to stay up until all hours of the morning just to get all but the borders quilted.

So, I stayed up until all hours of the morning watching redecorating shows.

And tweezing my eyebrows.

Friday, February 24, 2006

What will I do?

A list of all the stuff I am contemplating for my day off:

(I realize I won't be able to do all of these. These are just options.)

1. Major QT. Me and God, down to the nitty gritty. Topics on MY agenda: confessing, Bible reading, mothering, seeking wisdom RE Bethany, seeking wisdom RE asking someone to mentor (disciple) me, seeking wisdom about how I have/am/will spend my time during the average day, seeking wisdom about homeschooling, simplifying, my own selfishness, my need of healing in several areas, and so many others. On GOD'S agenda: this remains to be seen. I'll have to get back to you on that one.

2. Pondering topics for a talk that I will be giving in May (see previous post.)

3. Quilting. Gotta get one done before I can start another.

4. Reading: God's Politics, Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience, and Divine Conspiracy are all on tap.

5. Napping.

6. Writing.

7. Tweezing my eyebrows

8. Swimming? Unlikely, but possible.

9. An episode of Trading Spaces, if I am "lucky." With no cable at home, I'm a Trading Spaces junkie whenever I'm at a hotel.

10. Working on actually memorizing this week's portion of the Sermon on the Mount. I am supposed to be memorizing it with Heather, but so far, I have only done about 50% of the verses. If you want to join in, jump in. Heather posts the week's Scriptures every Wednesday.

I can guarantee you that I will be doing #1 and #7. As for the rest, only time will tell.

Thanks, Barney

A conversation with Ms. Boo yesterday went like this:

Boo: Mom, can you come help me with this puzzle?
Me: Not right now, I am busy.
(two minutes passes)
Boo: Mom, come do this puzzle with me.
Me: I can't right now.
(two more minutes)
Boo: Mom, please can you come do this with me?
Me: No, not right now.
Boo: Mom, the more we get together, the happier we'll be!



- An opportunity to speak to a group of "church" women has presented itself. To say that I am excited in an understatement.

- I found my glasses, which I have been looking for since Wednesday night, when I had to leave for church without them and squint to see the power point outline through the entire service despite the fact that I was only three rows back. I took them off when I put the boy to bed on Tuesday and left them on his headboard. I knew it was stupid when I did it, and I also knew that I'd forget to bring them out of the room when I left. No problem, because one of the kids brought them out for me... only didn't tell me where they put them. I found them on the floor in Bao's room. To say that I am glad that they didn't get stepped on is, again, an understatement.

- I am wondering about the wisdom of posting my kids' names and photos on this blog. I didn't do pictures for a long time, but then the digital camera thing made it too easy. I know a lot of people do it. And I know someone who really wanted information could find it anyway. But to say that it's been on my mind a lot lately is an understatement.

- Maybe I like making trouble for myself. But to say that I am again concerned about Bao's attachment is a (major) understatement.

- I am enjoying the discussion going on in the comments of my "okay, I'll bite" post. Scroll down. I am too lazy to link to it right now. It is making me think, and I need that. To say that it is challenging me is an understatement.

- I am looking forward to tomorrow. After Paul gave me my perfect day (the day before Thanksgiving... you can find out about it in my archives... again, too lazy to link) it kinda seemed like a good idea (to both of us, I think) to make it a little more of a regular thing. I don't know how regularly it will happen. But I am going to leave tomorrow morning and be by myself, stay in a hotel and meet up with the family again at church on Sunday. This is such a huge thing for me. To say I am thankful is an understatement.

- I am in a funk right now, characterized by the predominant thought that I am a sham. I like to talk all Jesus-like, but I am really not all that devoted to him in real life, and I am more concerned about myself than I am about him. To say that God will be dealing with me in that hotel room is... well, you know...

Later peeps.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Can I have a Do-Over?

Just a few days ago, I was talking to some people I'd just met. I was explaining about something that had happened when I was in China, which lead me to telling about the adoption. Like most people, they asked a bunch of questions about Ms. Bao.

One of the questions was "does she have a weird name?"

My response was, "she has a Chinese name." Then I explained how she got her name, and that we kept it for her middle name.

I've been reflecting on the question and my response for a while. Lots of thoughts run through my head.

First, should I have answered the way I did? It wasn't a big deal in that setting, but I'm not sure I'd want to answer that way with an older Bao in my presence. (Though, she'd probably be able to answer for herself...)

To get to the point: the question was insensitive. The person who raised it was trying to ask if she had a Chinese name. But calling it "weird" is insensitive.

And let me be clear: I am not angry or even sad. And I have no doubt that she did not INTEND to be insensitive. But I think it should also be made clear that a person's intent doesn't determine whether something is impolite, tactless, or insensitive.

Here is why my answer bothers me: because the real answer to her question is "no." No, my daughter does not have a weird name. But I knew what she meant, and answered the question she meant to ask rather than the question she did ask. I am trying to imagine how Bao (when she is older) would process that if she'd been there to hear what I'd said.

She asked mom if I had a weird name. So why did mom tell her I had a Chinese name? Is my Chinese name weird?

Maybe that's not what she'd think. But maybe it is.

"No" seems like a harsh answer. But it is the truth. And I think that answer would be very affirming to Bao.

But, there is a problem with that answer too. Simply saying "no" doesn't point out the error in the inquirer's thinking. While it is true that a Chinese name isn't weird, answering "no" would likely translate (in the inquirer's mind) into "she doesn't have a Chinese name."

I think it is part of my responsibility, as a mother of a mixed-race family, to point out these kinds of thoughtless comments. People really don't mean to be thoughtless, and they probably don't want to be thoughtless. But unless someone points it out, they won't realize that they are being thoughtless.

However, if I point these things out, I want to do it gently. The problem is that I don't know how to do that while avoiding the subtle insinuation that (in this example) the Chinese name is weird.

I don't know if that makes sense. But what I am pondering right now is - if I ever get a do-over, what would I say?

"no, she does not have a weird name"

"you are so insensitive."

"her name is Bao F... Y... Does that sound weird to you?"

"Is that really what you want to know?"

"Only as weird as your name sounds to a Chinese person."

"I do not think her name is weird at all."

"Not as weird as your outfit (hair, shoes, whatever fits) you big, crazy WEIRDO!"

"Only as weird as one of the most common names in China!"

"Yeah, we named her [real name]... I know it's weird, but we couldn't resist."

"Weird? What do you mean by that?"

I could go on. But one of these actually sounds good to me.

Let me ponder this a little bit more...


Monday, February 20, 2006


Do the women who read the MOPS newsletter know that I don't really know what I am talking about? I have to write the "spiritual" article every month. I guess this wouldn't be such a big deal, except that it has to be about the MOPS theme for that month. And I don't always have something to say about the theme.


Thank you all for reading my little procrastinator's post... because I should be writing that article right now.

PS: I knew no one would have anything to say about my racism post. Last time you all ask me to expound upon one of my ideas, that's fer sher! ;)

Smart Kids, Bad Housekeeping, and Mmm Mmm Chocolatey Goodness

Ms. Boo knows how to open the cabinet latches that I have on several cabinets around the kitchen. This isn't a problem because there isn't anything dangerous in those cabinets, and generally, she can be trusted with whatever she finds behind the doors.

There is really only one cabinet that I don't want the kids in. It contains cereal and peanut butter. And my little snacker would go nuts with unlimited access to it.

But Boo is too short to reach the latch at the top of that tall cabinet. So, its contents have remained undisturbed for a long time.

That all changed yesterday.

Unbeknownst to me, Ms. Boo climbed up on a chair and unlatched that cabinet. She decided to make some chocolate milk for herself and Bug. The part that befuddles me is that she knew how to make the chocolate milk.

See, we had this HUGE canister of Ovaltine. It was a hold-over from the days when I weaned Boo (now almost 5) and she wouldn't drink regular milk. I was trying to mix in Ovaltine to get her to drink it. But she didn't like it. And, bad housekeeper that I am, we still had that canister of ovaltine sitting in the cabinet.

We just recently finished it, and I never bought more. But Ovaltine is the only thing we have ever used to make chocolate milk.

So, what did Boo use to make chocolate milk?

Well, Nesquik, what else? (Didn't is used to be called Nestle Quik? And what do they have against the "c"?)

My husband used to use Nesquik to make homemade chocolate ice cream. Our ice cream maker broke about three years ago. But the Nesquik remains for the same reason that the Ovaltine did.
Only we have never touched it. It just sits there. I have no idea how LBoo knew what it was or what to do with it.

But she did. And before I knew what was going on, she had two cups of milk poured and had dumped a few spoonfuls of Nesquik into each one.

This was just before we left for the evening service at church last night. Neither of the kids finished their chocolate milk. So, we left for church and the chocolate milk just sat there.

Then we got invited to a friend's house after church... and we stayed kinda late. So when we came home, we just got the kids in bed. And, having promised Boo and Bug that we'd "camp out" with them in the living room, we spent a good deal of the night with them (until they fell asleep and we could sneak out.)

And, this morning, my sweet son walked up to me, innocent as you please, and started talking to me. I have no idea what he was saying, because all I noticed was the big, chocolate milk mustache he had on his face.

"Mr. Bug," I said, "what have you been eating?"

He just looked at me. Then, I remembered. The chocolate milk was still on the table (for the same reasons that the Ovaltine and the Nesquik were in the cabinet so long.)

So I told Bug that I didn't want him drinking that chocolate milk.

"Why?" he asked.

"Because it has been sitting out all night and it isn't good anymore."

"But MOM," says the boy, as if his response will somehow negate my concern about drinking spoiled milk, "It's CHOCOLATEY!"

Makes me want to kiss that spoiled chocolate milk mustache right off of his little Nesquik-y face.

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Okay, I'll bite

Well it seems from the comments that I received that there was general interest in my racism post.

Before I tell you what I am thinking, let me say that this is neither theology nor is it doctrine. And this is not how I defend my belief that there is only one way to heaven.

Having said that, I will share my thought, which is not earthshattering. Then you can all tell me what you think.

It seems odd, to me, when I hear a monotheist* say he believes that there are multiple paths to heaven. One of the reasons I find it odd is because of how genuinely unfair that seems to be.

If there is truly only one god, why would he allow some people to struggle so much in their efforts to get to heaven, while others don't have to work for it at all, simply trusting in the death and resurection of Christ.

It seems terribly unjust (to me) for one man to have to work in his own effort to achieve righteousness, possibly never knowing if he is doing enough, yet another man is confident before god that god's righteousness has been imputed to him. And the injustice would be that god himself would look upon that and say "it's all good" even when some of his children are struggling desperately, while others rely on grace. (And then I could ask, if god is unjust, is he really god at all... but I won't go off on that tangent.)

To be certain, we can all choose what religion we want to follow. But the idea that god could approve all such religions implies that he allows some to live in the bondage of trying to gain his approval while at the same time freely giving his approval to others.

It isn't racism per se, because religion is not (inherently) determined by one's ethnicity. But isn't it the same idea? Call it "religionism," maybe. Whatever you call it, it seems to necessarily imply that some people get preferential treatment from god based on the religion they choose.

Or do people choose at all? Does god make different people with different "kinds" of souls that relate to him in different ways? I think a lot of people believe this in their heart of hearts, though they may not articulate it. But if that's the case, that our souls are made differently, then that seems even MORE disturbing, because then god would have DESIGNED some people such that they need not struggle at all, while others would struggle immensely. In other words, we couldn't even choose our way out by following another religion. Some of us would just be left to struggle - with god's approval.

We'd scoff at that kind of preferential treatment if we were talking about racism. But it seems like the same thing when people say that there are many ways a person can get to heaven.

I don't know if this made sense. It is almost 1 am, which probably didn't help. But that's my crazy thought.

Have at it.

*I could make my point with polytheism too, but there is a subtle difference, which you could figure out if you tried. But you get the idea, so I don't think it's worth elaboration.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Two down, Ten to go...

I finished Boltzmann's Atom. The book details the work of Ludwig Boltzmann at the end of the nineteenth century. He was the first to use statistical probabilities to describe atomic motion. There was not consensus among his peers that atoms even existed, so his theory on the nature of entropy was not widely accepted. Indeed, it was vehemently rejected by many.

But Ludwig Boltzmann might just be called the father of theoretical physics. The last century has served to uphold his theories, rejected though they were at the time.

I found it interesting in reading that his loudest critic, Ernst Mach (of Mach-6 fame) gained quite a following at the time. Mach didn't believe atoms even existed. But he ended up being wrong.

And lots of others were skeptical of Boltzmann's work because they were used to classical physics which was articulated through "laws" that they took to be absolute. Boltzmann's work put some classical ideas into the category of "true most of the time." The nature of probabilities dictates that nothing behaves the same way all the time. It is just likely to behave that way... and once in a great while, it won't. (Think of what it must have been like to have someone telling you that heat doesn't ABSOLUTELY flow from a hot object into a cold one. It is only EXTREMELY likely that it will. But there is a chance, unimaginably small, but a chance nonetheless, that heat can flow from a colder object into a hotter one.)

This kind of theorizing didn't sit well with classical physicists of the time.

And, to be sure, it is still quite mind-blowing even today.

It's funny how science works. This book reminds me of how much faith is a part of theorizing. It reminds me that bias exists in science. It reminds me that we are human.

Dudley Herschbach is a Nobel Laureate in chemsitry (1986, I think.) I was able to attend "seminar" on the day that he addressed the chemistry students at Wittenberg. Someone asked him about how it felt to win such a prestigious award. He said something very interesting. I don't remember it word for word, but it was something like this: I am humbled to receive such an award, because really, it's the atoms that should be honored. They are the ones who do all this amazing stuff. All we do is figure out what they were already doing, and have been doing for a very long time.

Science is clouded by the humanity of scientists. There is stuff we don't understand, and stuff we don't want to understand. We look at experimental data and go "huh?" And sometimes, we don't even believe what the data say. We argue about what constitutes "proof."

All this hampers our efforts to figure out what is really going on. The cool thing is, nature keeps on doing its thing, regardless of our understanding.

Anyway, all that to say this: I finished my second book.

I am now debating which book I should pick up next.

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Thursday, February 16, 2006


Part 1

Tonight was a big night. We got the whole fam dressed up in coordinating outfits and schlepped to the mall for our biannual family portrait.

My preparations for the photo shoot included some of the everyday things, like getting the kids' clothes ready. Then it also included some highly unusual things, like putting makeup on myself and even (HORRORS!) putting "product" in my hair.

Now, I don't normally wear makeup because:
a) it is a total waste of time - if it has to be touched up in two hours, I'm not bothering with it.
b) I know enough chemistry to know that I don't want that stuff on my body, seeping into my skin all day long.
c) I am far too cheap to spend $7.95 on one tube of lipstick.

But, I wore the makeup because I think it makes for a much better photo.

However, the "product" - well, even I can't figure that out.

Over the last five years, my goal in every haircut and every attempt at styling has been getting my hair to do that cute flip on the ends. The actual outcome is always the same. It is something akin to the Betty Crocker look.

But, I tried it anyway. Maybe this time it will work I'm thinking.


At the end of our photo shoot the photographer kindly offered to insert a short line of text under each photo.

It reads, "The role of Mom is being played by Betty Crocker."

So the only benefit to having "product" in my hair was that it smelled good for the family photo.

Unfortunately, for me, the portrait options at JCPenney do not include scratch 'n sniff.

Part 2

Every time I use "product" in my hair, my mind automatically starts contemplating how ridiculous I think it is to call it "product."

Whenever you tell a hair stylist that you have a specific problem with your hair, they inevitably say something like "I have a product that will work for that."

Not, "let me get you some shampoo." Not, "here's some gel that will work great." It is always "product."

Yes, I know you have PRODUCT, I can SEE that you SELL things!

It's like walking into a hardware store, asking the clerk how you can fix the hole in your drywall, and having him say "you need product." Would you not look at him a little funny and think "yes, but which one, Einstein?"

Why do they all do this? I get my hair washed, cut, and styled and they never refer to any of these as "service." So, why do they call all the goop "product" EVEN WHEN THEY ARE REFERRING TO SOMETHING SPECIFIC?

And just as a little bonus question, I'd like to know why all hairstylists talk to me WHILE THEY ARE RINSING MY HAIR! I know they are talking because I can see their lips moving. But do they NOT know that when someone's head is hanging inside a big basin and there is water running all over the place that all they can hear is

Do they teach that at beauty school?

Enough, enough!

I am done with this


I will never, ever, ever....

I realize I am about to risk coming off as an old frump, but a girl's got to have her standards.

I absolutely refuse to continue reading any blog that contains the word "prolly."

If you can even call that a word, because it's not.

I can handle "cuz." I am only mildly frustrated when people don't use periods. I can even overlook an overzealous "LOL" user if the post is interesting enough (though I have to wonder if people are really LOL as much as they say they are.)

But, "prolly" is where I draw the line.

I stop reading. End of story - or post, as the case may be.

I just thought I'd make that public, in case anyone was wondering if I'd read their blog.


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Stuff I've got Rattling Around

I have this impression that people think this is a mom blog. And that bothers me, because I don't want it to be. Not because I don't like being a mom, it's just that that isn't what I want this blog to be about.

I have a lot of things brewing in my head. The problem is that it takes me a very long time to:
a) sift through all of my thoughts
b) compose something that represents those thoughts adequately.

And a lot of times, it seems like my "real" thoughts don't generate as much discussion as my stories from motherhood. And those, by far, are easier to write about.

So, I often do. I write about the stuff of being a mom, even though those really aren't the things that are on my mind. Perhaps I should not let myself be deterred by lack of discussion. But that is part of the reason that I have this blog - because I want to hear from people who aren't necessarily going to tell me the same things I already hear in my own circle.

Here are the things I am have on my mind:

-More on affluent Christians and how we are called to serve the poor.

-Christian stewardship as it relates to the environment.


-A rant free assault on a semi-popular method of discipline/child rearing that seems big among some groups of Christians in the US. But I struggle with this because there is a fine line between picking on brothers and sisters in Christ (disunity - not pretty) and pointing out the underlying principles that I believe can be harmful to kids whose parents use this method.

-A sort of odd idea that I have buried somewhere in my cerebral cortex in which I correlate racism with the belief that there are multiple ways for people to "get to heaven."

-A response to the thinking among some Christians that women should not go to college. But the divisiveness it might encourage probably makes the topic an unwise choice.

-My discomfort with the "get to heaven" incentive that is offered as a means of getting people to commit their lives to Christ.

-My distress over the political rhetoric I hear coming from the religious right.

Anyway. I don't know why I am posting this other than to let you know that there is more going on in my brain than wondering what I am going to make for dinner and how to motivate Jonathan to start using the toilet.

There are too many variables in the mix for me to predict if I will ever post about these things.

Maybe you could suggest a topic for me to work on.

Or maybe you could just suggest something I could make for dinner tonight...

Olympic Highlights

Okay, who watched the finals of the pairs figure skating?

I will admit that I root for Chinese athletes.

One pair from China attempted, for the first time ever in competition, a quad throw. She has apparently landed it in practice about 50% of the time. But during their long program, she fell HARD on her knee. When she got up, it looked at first as if she wouldn't even be able to skate off the ice.

Then they finished the routine.

And seeing them do their routine after attempting something so gutsy and taking such a nasty fall... that was awesome. It was more fun to watch than the tentative Russian pair who won the gold.

And the Chinese pair won the silver medal. How cool is that? How crazy cool!

The Chinese went 2,3,4 in that event. THE CHINESE! IN FIGURE SKATING!!! I'll be interested to see how they fare at the next Olympics, b/c it looks like they might be turning into a force in that sport. And having heard the stories about how difficult life is for an elite athlete in China, I think it would be fantastic to see them win.

I have no idea why this is such a big deal to me. But I love figure skating... and I guess I do have a soft spot in my heart for the Chinese too!


Saturday, February 11, 2006

Happy Birthday, Bud!

Here is my boy with the football we got him. It was one of about 8 balls he received tonight. The only thing funnier was his outfit. Those are his "dragon pants" - part of a set we bought him in China. I figured it was his day, so I let it go without any attempts to get him to wear something that matched.

He had a great time.

Happy birthday to my big boy.


Friday, February 10, 2006


A brief conversation with my husband this evening went like this:

Me: Hey, do you think I could read twelve books this year?
Paul: Do I think you CAN, or do I think you WILL?

Here are the books that are on my list.

1. Approval Addiction: Overcoming Your Need to Please Everyone by Joyce Meyer. (Finished it last month)
2. Boltzmann's Atom: The Great Debate the Launched a Revolution in Physics by David Lindley. (working on it now... about 90 pages left to go)
3. God's Politics: Why the Right Gets it Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get it by Jim Wallace. (working on it now... only about a third of the way through.)
4. Dreams from my Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama
5. Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic by Clive Hamilton and Richard Denniss
6. Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience: Why Are Christians Living Just Like the Rest of the World? by Ronald Sider
7. Hard to Believe: The High Cost and Infinite Value of Following Jesus by John MacArthur
8. Jealous God: Science's Crusade Against Religion by Pamela Winnick

Okay, so that is only eight. If I can finish these in the year, that'll be quite an accomplishment... and I can add four more if that happens.

Anybody want to read one of these with me? You can pick the next book and when you want to read it.

Now, if you will please excuse me, I have some reading to do.


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Evolving thoughts on Stewardship

Paul commented on my last post and got me thinking more specifically about it. I think my original post was getting at two different things, though I don't think the ideas were formulated well enough in my mind for me to present them very clearly.

Here are my evolving thoughts and response to his comment:

First there is the issue of guilt. I guess what I was wondering was, according to the passage in Jeremiah, is God displeased when I go about my life blithely thinking that I have never done anything to "hurt" poor people, when in fact, much of my comfort is attained through the exploitation of the poor (through goods they have worked to produce, yet have not been paid adequately, etc.)

Second there is the issue of what can be done. I reject the notion that we are somehow helping people (even in a small way) when we buy these goods. We don't help by perpetuating the systems that keep them in bondage. We don't help them by buying from the system and thereby making the system more powerful. We help them by bringing them out of the system and helping them find work that will keep them out of poverty.

I realize that I don't have hard data to present about the income of the average worker in different countries. (I wanted to supply it, but have not had time to search for it.)

So, maybe the questions are both theological and practical. What does God think when we purchase from systems that exploit their workers? And what kinds of things can we do, both political and charitable, to bring people out of those systems?

Where is everyone on this? Cup-a-Joe? Maureen? Leslie? Lurkers?

Gimme some thoughts here, peeps.

Edit: Thanks, Angel for posting that resource. I didn't see your comment until after I had already posted this.

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Sunday, February 05, 2006


I got some "time off" last night. I decided I wanted a chicken philly sandwich, so I headed over to the place at the mall where I knew I could get one. And, since I was there, I looked around at Sears in the clothing department.

But all the while I kept thinking about the issue of stewardship and how that is supposed to play out in the not-so-simple marketplace.

I think most Christians will give hearty nods of affirmation when someone says that we need to be good stewards of our money. (And I would be one of the hearty nodders.) But whenever I hear about stewardship in Christian circles* it is almost always in the context of finances, and then almost exclusively about not spending more than we "have to."

And I am all for a bargain. But last night (and for the millionth time,) I couldn't help thinking how much does this bargain really cost?

These thoughts were still in my head this morning during Sunday school. One of the passages we covered included Jeremiah 2:34, 35 which says:

On your clothes men find the lifeblood of the innocent poor, though you did not catch them breaking in. Yet in spite of this you say, "I am innocent; [God] is not angry with me." But I will pass judgment on you because you say, "I have not sinned."

Now, I don't know if this verse, when interpreted in context, relates to what I'd been thinking. But, in light of my thoughts at the mall, the words really struck me.

Like I said, I like a good bargain. And I think I have used the stewardship argument as my rationale for my bargain-hunting (which isn't necessarily wrong, I don't think.) But, if we are called to be stewards of money, then the goal isn't simply to NOT spend it, but it is to appropriate it properly and be WILLING to spend it if it can meet others' needs.

But moving away from stewardship in the financial sense, what if we looked at the Gospel and compassion as stewardship issues?** When does my need to administer compassion trump my need to save money? I'm going to say compassion trumps finances every time. (You can argue that, if you like.)

But this is where it all becomes not-so-easy to apply.

For example: Yes, a $5 shirt is a better deal than a $10 shirt. But all we have to do is look at the label that says "made in Bangledesh" or "made in Sri Lanka" to know that the REASON it is cheap is because the worker who made it is working for hardly any pay, probably for very long stretches at a time, and maybe even in a dangerous environment.

So, what is a Christian to do? If we let the issue of compassion trump the issue of finances, then we would say - buy the shirt that wasn't produced with that kind of labor, even if it is more expensive. This might be a simple answer if that other shirt even exists... because, if I've heard it once, I've heard it a hundred times - "you can't buy ANYTHING that wasn't made that way." And, in a lot of cases, that is true!

I know there is a lot more to be done than change my buying habits. That, alone, will not fix the problem. But I think about the fact that a vast majority of the products I own have someone else's lifeblood in them. How does God view this? Is he pleased that much of my lifestyle, (including healthy doses of personal pleasure, comfort, and entertainment,) comes at the expense of someone working in said conditions.

It begins to put a few things into perspective for me.

First, I have to ask myself - do I really need another dollar store cell phone to entertain my kids? Is their entertainment worth the human suffering that it costs to provide it? Am I willing to spend more to buy products that do not use this kind of labor, and thereby be the better steward that I want to be? Am I willing to do the work of finding those products? And, what, other than changing my buying habits, can I do to effect real changes in the unjust labor practices that happen around the world?

I know these aren't new questions, and they have been debated in many different places long before this post. But, I was wondering if anyone has any practical and/or Biblical insight that might help me make some effectual changes in my own practices.

*keep in mind that I don't have a big circle.
**for the record, I think there are a lot of other stewardship issues. The environment is one, but that is another post entirely.

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Friday, February 03, 2006

State Capital Wanna-bes

My husband teaches keyboarding to eighth graders. As a way to practice technique, he will sometimes give them a "list" assignment. He gives them a topic and the kids type as many things as they can think of to put on the list in the allotted time.

This week, it was state capitals.

Here is a compilation of some of the answers he saw:

New York City
Los Angeles
Washington D.C.

and my personal favorite: Cleveland.

If you don't get why that is so funny, let me remind you that we live in Ohio.

Hmmm, maybe I should hook them up with a link to the "Could you pass eighth grade social studies" quiz.

But, I have a sneaking suspicion that I already know how they'd do.


Thursday, February 02, 2006

You can't tell me this ain't cute

You just can't.


I Wish

- I had had the peace of mind to take a picture of the mess BEFORE it got cleaned up yesterday. Mr. Bug poured about 3/4 of the orange juice container onto Bao's tray. She was splashing in it when I walked into the kitchen. It covered the table, her high chair, and was dripping into a HUGE puddle on the floor. Bao needed a bath and I cleaned everything that was in those pictures... including my sticky feet.

- Boo would stop having tantrums.

- I could find my long-sleeved white T-shirt.

- I could find Bao's other snuggler.

- I had a gentle and quiet spirit.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

A Good, Old-Fashioned Who Dunnit

Why is Bao eating lunch in her walker? And how did I spend my morning? Can you figure it out? Use the following pictures as your clues: