Thoughts From A Registered Ohio Voter

Posted in Current Events on November 6th, 2012 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Swing state, political battleground, campaign focal point, election ground zero…  call it what you will.  As a Christian middle-class American, I call it Ohio, and Ohio is my home.  With regards to the 2012 Presidential election, like
countless fellow Ohioans, I’ve grown weary of the seemingly endless parade of dinnertime (wakeup and bedtime) political phone calls.  I’m tired of receiving campaign postcards in the mail (between Thursday and Saturday last week, we got EIGHT political post cards in the mail – I don’t want to be wasteful; I’m thinking of incorporating them into a quilt).  And what if all that postcard mailing money were being spent on feeding and housing the homeless?  Or providing quality health care to the uninsured?  But I digress…).
I do care about the governmental consequences at stake; I note opinions and where the candidates stand on such controversial issues as abortion, the definition of legal marriage, and the state of the economy.  However,  the Holy Bible is the law by which I try to live my life.  And there are no less than 17 Bible passages referring to false prophets.  While educating myself about the Presidential candidates, I did a bit of research into the Mormon religion where I determined that Mormonism does not follow the same Bible I believe to be God’s word.  Although my political and societal views are
usually Republican-esque, in this election, I have felt  unrepresented by a candidate, which is why I’ve begun telling the Romney people who call me that they cannot count on my support for their candidate.

We can faithfully pray about the election and how our lives will be affected afterward, and we can also have peace knowing that our wonderful God is sovereign.  I like the definition of God’s sovereignty I found on theopedia.com:  The Sovereignty of God is the biblicalteaching that all things are under God’s rule and control, and that nothing happens without His directionor permission.
Have peace.  Your vote counts, it matters to people, but also know that God is in the cockpit – no one is going to pilot this plane we call the United States unless our Lord lets him into the cockpit.  Whether Americans will call Barrack Obama a 2-term President or if they get to know Mitt Romney as Commander-in-Chief, it happened because God allowed it to happen.
“The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.” Psalm 103:19
As a popular saying goes: may the best man win.  As far as I’m concerned, that man is Jesus.

Getting Old… Er, Growing Up

Posted in church, music on November 9th, 2011 and tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday November 9 is the 2011 Country Music Awards – an event once so important to me that I would put my schedule on hold so I could enjoy watching this annual awards show on tv.  For a few years now, I have committed my Wednesday nights to leading a small group for church’s student ministries.  The past 2 years, one of my kids happened to be sick on the same Wednesday nights as the awards show, so I volunteered to be the parent to stay home with the sick kid and I didn’t have to miss the show nor play hooky from youth group – I had a legitimate reason for calling in sick.  This year, there is again a virus circulating through our family, and I think I have a mild case…  but things have changed.  Even if one of my kids was ill tonight, I would be the one to go to youth group and let Hubby stay home with the sick kid(s).  Luckily, I think we’ll both be able to make it to youth group tonight, and I am so excited!  The new series we started last week is about demons, and it gave me a great connecting point with my girls – we had a great group time last week!  Now that I’m back from maternity leave and free from the distractions of pregnancy, I am stoked to build relationships with my youth group girls and help them build their spiritual relationships with Jesus Christ.  I am so excited about youth group tonight that the country awards show hardly matters to me – I might try to set up a recording device so I can watch it later, but watching it live doesn’t matter to me at all when once it was dire for my entertainment.

Maybe I’m getting old…  no, I think I’m growing up!  It’s so cool to me that God is teaching me about prioritizing and also about using my free time and leading me toward hobbies that glorify Him.  How amazing is it that I can be entertained, relaxed, refreshed, and feel fulfilled, not by doing something that only I enjoy but by doing something that affects others in a positive way as well?

Highlights From A Beth Moore Bible Study

Posted in church on June 20th, 2011 and tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

One of the activities that’s been keeping me so busy lately is the Beth Moore Bible study I’m attending on Mondays, called Jesus The One and Only.  It’s great; I’m learning a lot, getting to know other women from my church, and it gets me and the kids out of the house for a few hours every Monday morning.  The kids can blow off some steam while I go through the workbook with my small group and watch the dvd.  A fun class, but there is a side effect of all the learning: homework.  Our workbook is divided into weekly sessions, and there are 5 days of homework for every week’s lesson.  Each day has about 4-5 pages of homework that involves creative thinking and looking up passages in the Bible, contemplating them, comparing them, and answering thought-provoking questions.  Time-wise, it’s intense, especially for this pregnant mother of 4.  This is the 3rd week of class, and so far I’ve been able to get all my homework finished on time and am really enjoying it.  I struggled a bit at first with the stress of trying to find those extra hour 5 days a week that I was sure I didn’t have, but I’m managing and reaping the rewards.  Before I begin today’s homework, I thought I’d share some things that I’ve highlighted in my workbook.

Before I do that, however, I will recap in a nutshell what the study itself is all about: Jesus.  We began our discussions talking about Mary, and Beth Moore is really great at delving more deeply into things and encouraging the student to give more thought.  We talked about what Mary might have been like as a young Jewish woman (Mary was probably around 13 or 14 when  she was told she was about to carry the Lord’s child  – did you know she was that young?  I didn’t!), and we talked about her pregnancy (of particular interest to me right now), her thoughts and feelings, her journey to see her cousin Elizabeth, and then we moved on to talking about Jesus himself.  We talked about him as a baby, a child, and about how he was led into the desert, all while relating it to our own lives.  Some of Beth Moore’s statements that stuck out to me in the workbook are:

God seems to love little more than stunning the humble with His awesome intervention.

Seasons of intense temptation are not indications of God’s displeasure.

God emphasized that the road to redemption would be costly and confrontational.

Luke was the only Gentile God inspired to write a Gospel.

God allows circumstances to exist in our lives that drive us to dependency on Him.

God is far too faithful to let anyone make it through life without confronting seasons of utter helplessness.

The good news Christ may want to preach to you today is that you don’t have to subsist.  You  were meant to thrive.

I’m quite sure if my healing process had been painless, I would have relapsed.

Many people sincerely love God, but I don’t think anyone stands to appreciate the unfailing love of God like the believer finally set free from failure.

Easter 2011

Posted in holidays on May 1st, 2011 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Easter is definitely a favorite holiday of mine.  Can’t be THE favorite because nothing beats Christmas, but it’s proven to be even better than Halloween these days.  No matter how you celebrate Easter, there is always lots to do this time of year, and I think our family found the perfect balance between celebrating the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and the traditional kids’ stuff like Easter eggs and bunnies.

Every year, our community has an Easter egg hunt, and my kids always love it.  My oldest is now too old to participate, but I was proud that she chose to come along with us and that she was a HUGE help with the little ones.  Our community’s Easter egg hunt is more of a candy scramble now.  They used to have it in the park, and the volunteer teens from the high school would hide the candy all around the park, but they got tired of having to move the event indoors at the last minute because of inclement weather.  With Easter being in April, you just can’t guarantee a sunny, dry, Saturday morning without muddy ground in which to hide the Easter surprises.  So now they have it in the middle school gym, and while they can’t exactly hide the candy, the kids seem to love it all the same.  If the kids find a piece of candy with a colored dot on it, then they win an extra prize, and 2 of my 3 kids did just that – those of you who know our family can guess who was the one with the (as always) bad luck  – poor kid.

At church the following day, we had two special guests join us – one friend who doesn’t go to church but began to come after falling on hard times in his life, and a new friend who is also going through tough times and looking to switch churches.  I’m so happy to report that New Friend now calls our church her church home – she and her kids really like it!  Also, Friend #1 has been coming to church every week since!  God is amazing!

Monday, we were invited by some friends to attend “The Living Last Supper”, a show near Fort Wayne Indiana staged solely for God’s glory – to depict the last days and the death and Resurrection of Jesus.  It was an awesome, powerful show; one I strongly recommend.  This will be an annual tradition for our family for sure!  Especially since all 4 of our children were moved by the performance, and we didn’t even need to use the child care!

Friday saw the annual kid-friendly tradition of egg coloring, and I think this was really the first year we’ve done egg coloring with a little BOY in the house.  Our son is 2, and what a difference there was between his rowdy excited way of dropping the eggs into the colors versus his sisters’ delicate quest for prettiness in their egg designs.  Our son barreled through his allotment of eggs so quickly that his sisters were still working on theirs when he was done, and this is what happened:

After dinner, our family sat down in a circle to do another one of our favorite Easter traditions: Resurrection Eggs.  It’s a set that was given to us by my sister last year, and I have to remember to tell her how much we enjoy doing this every year.  We even lent our set to some friends this year for them to enjoy!  It comes with a booklet, and we take turns reading the little paragraphs that tell the story of Jesus’ death.  The booklet asks questions and gives you places to pause,  and you open each of the 12 eggs when prompted.  Each of the different colored eggs contains a little something that represents the part of the story that was just read, and we have kids take turns opening eggs.  It’s a wonderful way to combine the eggs aspect and the spiritual meaning of Easter into a fun-filled educational family activity, and we love it!

Saturday morning the kids got a nice surprise – the Easter Bunny had visited early and hidden their gorgeous eggs!  I think the Easter Bunny thought it would be too much for us to search for eggs while trying to get to church on time Sunday morning, and he was right 🙂  Oh, here’s a pic of the kids with their eggs; Dude is still recovering from his egg coloring tantrum:

After the egg hunting , we attended a fun Easter event at the community theater up the street, and the weather actually cooperated.  There were Easter egg hunts, games, lunch, and plenty of prizes for everyone, and the kids had a blast.  We returned home and made a last minute decision to check out another Easter drama at a friends’ church.

It seems that the Easter Bunny made another visit to our house on Saturday night since Sunday morning the kids woke up to a laundry basket for each of them full of surprises.  We went to church, and I enjoyed a whopping class size of 13 first-graders to teach!  Problem was, all of their jacked-up-on-candy brains could only think about the other aspects of Easter, and we had difficulty doing some of our planned activities.  It’s often difficult to accomplish much when I have a class of that size anyhow, so I took it in stride and we went to the gym early to run around and burn off some of that sugar!  At adult worship, we were blessed to see enough friends join us so that our group filled up an entire row!  It’s not about quantity, but it was amazing to see some friends there who don’t regularly go to church and some whom we’ve been inviting for years and haven’t come until now.  I am so excited to see what God is doing in the lives of those I care about!!!

We went out to brunch, took a family nap, and then we took the kids to the movies.  No, we didn’t see Hop, which might have made sense for Easter, but our older kids have already seen it.  So we took in Rio, which is a cute family movie about a couple of rare parrots – fitting for our family since we reside with a jerky parrot of our own, and we had fun.

Overall, one of the best Easter seasons ever; actually, this season just keeps getting better and better every year, especially as I become aware of what the season is all about and how to really celebrate it.  I am truly blessed!

So a belated happy Easter to everyone!  I hope you all had a wonderful Easter and have many more to come!  Celebrate Easter, celebrate Jesus, celebrate love, celebrate family – Easter is great & we have God to thank!

10 Years, 1 Year

Posted in Everyday Life on December 18th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

December 18 marks two anniversaries of immense personal loss – 10 years ago today, my father-in-law passed away from ALS.  Though some memories are still painful, a decade of time has numbed the pain of his loss a little, and it’s easier to focus on the good times we shared and the countless wonderful things he did for people during his lifetime.  Albeit selfishly, I sometimes wish that Vince was here to meet his 7 wonderful grandchildren, to realize our family’s growing relationship with God and our spiritual journey, and to see how far his son has come in life.  I think he would be so proud.  More about December 18, 2000 was written here.

December 18, 2009 – Last year, on the day that was 9 years to the day after Vince’s passing, our family dog Charity passed away unexpectedly.  She was almost 12 years old but in seemingly good health.  She was fine in the morning, gone by dinnertime.  Not enough time has passed to heal the pain of her loss since she was like a child to us, but there is no reason to dwell on such melancholy topics here in the blog.

I’m thankful that I have a busy December 18 this year, that it’s on a Saturday and that I don’t have to spend it alone.  I’m writing this ahead of time and scheduling it to post itself on December 18 automatically in hopes of maybe not realizing this day of personal infamy until it’s over.  Will the entire day pass without me thinking about Vince or Charity?  Probably not, they and other loved ones lost hold a special place in my heart, and I think about them most every day, especially  in December.  But December 18 this year will have joy of its own as family comes from far away to celebrate the season.  I look forward to making happy memories for December, especially for the 18th, which just happens to be exactly one week before Christmas, a day I’m really looking forward to celebrating this year more than ever.  Losing Charity last year was an awful thing to happen just before Christmas time, just as it was even more terrible to lose a parent / grandparent in our family just before Christmas 10 years ago.  But when I lost Charity, and I realized that I was more curious about God’s plan for me than I was looking to be angry with Him, I knew that I was on my way to having a wonderful spiritual relationship with Him.

For that, I am very thankful, and it makes me want to celebrate this Christmas season for what it truly is: a celebration of the birth of Jesus and an acknowledgment of the glorious love that God has for us.

This Town’s Got Talent AND Faith

Posted in Everyday Life on January 19th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I already wrote about our 3D movie-going experience in my previous post, so I will skip that part of the weekend here, but I neglected to mention the cool restaurant we found because I didn’t want to enlarge an already lengthy post…

Friday night after seeing My Bloody Valentine 3D in Maumee Ohio, a suburb of Toledo, we noticed a restaurant across the street called Nick’s Cafe who advertises breakfast all day.  My husband and I are both Eggs Benedict connoisseurs – we really appreciate a great-tasting serving of Eggs Benedict, which is a breakfast dish consisting of English Muffin halves topped with Canadian bacon, poached eggs, and a layer of Hollandaise sauce.  In our pre-parenthood days, we explored the country and sampled various versions of the dish along the way to our traveler’s goals; whether they were destinations of business or pleasure.  A requirement of great Eggs Benedict is homemade Hollandaise sauce, and by ‘homemade’, we (unlike many of the restaurants we tried) don’t mean mixed up in the kitchen from a package.  You need a double boiler to make it, and good Hollandaise sauce has nothing to do with a powder or a package.  In all of our travels, we never found anything that even compares to the Hollandaise sauce at Uptown Cafe in downtown Arlington Heights, Illinois.  We’ve visited numerous restaurants in our quest, and we’ve called some of them ahead of time, but even if you ask if their Hollandaise sauce is homemade, many will say yes, even if we don’t agree on the definition of homemade.  Such was the case Friday night at Nick’s Cafe in Maumee, Ohio.  They said their hollandaise sauce was homemade on the phone, but oddly, when we arrived, they wouldn’t let us taste a sample.  That was a first!  Of the dozens of restaurants we’ve visited in search of the perfect Eggs Benedict, no restaurant had ever denied us a sample!  On Friday night, my husband bravely ordered the Eggs Benedict at Nick’s Cafe without trying the Hollandaise sauce ahead of time, and disappointingly, it was of the non-homemade, out-of-the-package variety.  He did say that the Canadian bacon on the Eggs Benedict was great, but it unfortunately cannot rescue the dish if it uses packaged Hollandaise.  So negative Eggs Benedict experience aside, the reason I would highly recommend this place is for their Mediterranean cuisine.  And regular readers of my blog (and of those email forward all-about-you quizzes) know that this is my favorite type of food, therefore I am a huge critic.  But Nick’s Place in Maumee has excellent gyros, Tzatziki sauce, and Greek salads.  Gyros are only good when they’re off the spit and even then, it’s easy for them to taste too salty.  Not the case at Nick’s Place; if you like Mediterranean food, I highly recommend their gyros and Greek salads – incredible.

But I must move on to Saturday afternoon, when we took our kids to see the movie, Hotel for Dogs.  I’ve been waiting for this movie for months, which is probably why we didn’t want to cancel our planned outing there on Saturday even though Kid #1 went off her rocker.  Seriously, the kid went berserk and I was really tempted to give her “the talk”, especially after I noticed a pimple on her cheek… (well, one of ‘the talks’ anyway – the one about womanly bodily changes – she’s 9 years old and I would rather we talk about puberty stuff before it happens to her).  But anyway, she’d probably be mortified if she knew I was posting this on the internet (what are mothers for?), so I better get off this tangent…  After the episode Saturday morning, our oldest really didn’t deserve to go to the movie, but it’s difficult in a large family to not ‘let the bad apple spoil the bunch’.  Our younger girls had been very good all morning, so why keep them (or me!) from going to the movie?  Our oldest was punished for the tantrum by having to go without a Kid’s Pack (popcorn, pop, and candy) at the movies, and to her credit, she was mature about the consequences of her actions.  However, soon after our arrival at the movie theater, the tide changed and our 2-year-old became the problem.  I don’t know why we keep trying to take a 2-year-old to the movie theater, but every time, it’s regrettable.  Actually, it’s been this way since even months before she turned two…  I guess we keep hoping that one of these times, she’ll actually settle down enough to enjoy an entire movie without driving anyone crazy.  So anyway, I’m trying to keep our 6-month-old busy and quiet while attempting to watch Hotel For Dogs and not disturb our neighbors, and my husband is busy with our handful of a 4-year-old, so next thing we know, our two-year-old is drinking my Mountain Dew.  Of course she loves it, but even before the Mountain Dew she’s had a sugar-infused Kid’s Pack, and now she’s practically bouncing off the walls.  She smiles and announces in a loud voice, “I take clothes off!“, so now I’m trying to put my son back in his car seat so I can stop his sister from stripping off her clothes right there in the movie theater…  Too late.  She is down to her diaper by the time I get both hands free, so my husband covers her with a coat.  For some reason, she’s willing to wear nothing but a coat and a diaper in the movie theater, and somehow we make it through the rest of the movie without having to leave.  So as for Hotel For Dogs, I liked it (I think – I actually didn’t see much of it)…  it’s a cute, predictable fun movie, and if you’re a dog lover, there’s plenty of canine eye candy.

Following the movie, I went to a local talent show based upon the popular “American Idol” TV show.  Some great friends graciously stayed with the kids, and my husband also stayed home to catch up on the work he missed last week during the 2-hour-school delay and the school closing we have on Friday and Monday.  He works from home, and it’s all I can do to keep the two little ones out of his hair every day – add the older two to the mix and all Hell breaks loose – any chance of getting anything productive done flies out the window.  So, a strange occurrence at the talent show – me, myself, and I for a change.  I did attend with friends, but it’s not like I would bother Carol next to me with my philosophies on music or the tone of one’s voice; that would be something to make my husband endure.  And it was bizarre to simply sit back and listen and watch the show…  For those hours, I had absolutely not one thing else to do besides enjoy the show…  such a change of pace for me and much appreciated.  Not that I would want to experience that all the time, but it was very nice for one night…

Adding to the relaxation for me was the spiritual tone of the evening.  I had known the event would be sponsered by a local church, but I didn’t realize that we, the audience,  would be praying to both open and to close the show; as well as the fact that the majority of the acts were religion-themed.  As I said, for me, it was refreshing and relaxing, but I think they should properly advertise such a theme if they do this again next year.  Less open-minded people may have been displeased.  My dear friend and the entire reason I was a part of this concert experience in the first place, performed wonderfully and I was pleasantly surprised to be able to pick out her voice from the rest of the delightful group with whom she performed.  Despite my best efforts to vote for them, however, they didn’t win the competition, and the top prizes went to a drama group from the church who sponsered the event (!), a very talented violinist, and a well-known local talent who is only a Junior in high school but who has already been a vocalist with the Toledo Opera going on her 3rd year.  Besides seeing and hearing my friend perform, my favorite part of the evening was when a boy who was part of the drama group that won burst into tears.  Their skit was acted out to music, and it portrayed a young girl being bullyed by ‘temptations’ but ultimately triumphing over sins and choosing Jesus.  The group got a standing ovation after they performed and because they were from the church that sponsored the event, it was no surprise when they won first prize in the competition, but the kid asked the crowd, “I just want to know that everyone was moved – was everyone moved?”  There was applause and verbal affirmations, and the next thing I knew, the kid had burst into tears and it slightly reminded me of  the movie Leap of Faith…  But it was sweet and real, and I was glad to be a part of it.  Even though the talent show did a poor job of advertising the theme of the show; thereby the religion kind of snuck up on its patrons, it was a welcome and calming change of pace – at least for this member of the audience.  And even though I wasn’t aware that I needed it, the evening restored my faith while proving to me yet again what a great place it is in Northwest Ohio to raise kids – we have so much talent and so many opportunites here for our youth!