Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Slavery Part III

So now we've discussed the problem let's start talking about what we can do to make a difference.  It may seem like a drop in the ocean but if we each do one thing, change one small part of our lives then it adds up to a huge difference.  I'm sure there was a time in America and Europe when slavery was so intrenched in every day living that the thought of abolishing it all together seemed impossible and seemed like it would destroy the economy and fabric of people's lives.  But it was an evil thing that had to stop and a couple hundred years later we can't imagine something like that happening at all.

However, as we've already discussed it does happen.  Even in this country people are being forced to work for nothing out of fear and desperation.  Places where it happens more frequently are "spas" (especially if there is a large privacy fence surrounding the area), nail salons, asian buffets, cleaning services, and other construction migrant type work.  For victims of labor trafficking look for these clues:
* They do not have possession of their own legal documents and ID
* They have poor working and living conditions
* They are unable to leave their job or situation due to threat or coercion
Remember: Victims can be seen anywhere along the production line- from food service to manufacturing to farming to domestic servitude. And if the price is too good to be true then maybe it is.

For Victims of Sex Trafficking in Minors Look for these clues:
* The average age of entry into prostitution is 12; this is often due to the presence of a manipulative and controlling older "boyfriend".
* 1 in 3 runaways are picked up by a trafficker/pimp with in their first 48 hours on the street
* 70-90% of children who have been sexually exploited and trafficked have been sexually abused in the past.
Remember: anyone under the age of 18 who is exploited through pornography, stripping or prostitution is a victim of slavery.

For victims of sex trafficking in adults look for these clues:
* The presence of a pimp or controlling individual
* Substance abuse, signs of physical abuse, and fear
* Often manipulated and threatened emotionally, mentally, and physically
Remember: individuals working in prostitution may not be there by choice; they may actually be trafficked/pimped.
If you suspect any of the above call 1-888-3737-888 or email endslavery@iteams.org

The second thing we can do is to educate ourselves and those around us.  Consider hosting or attending an awareness event.  My dear friend Susie, who introduced me to this tragedy, goes all over our state educating women, friends, church groups, parents etc. about this issue and about what they can do to protect their children and make a difference in the world.  She is amazing and I'd like to give her a special thank you not only for her tireless work in this field but in the time she took to give me the information and point me in the right direction so that I can share it with you. To contact susie go to www.betterwayimports.com or look her up on face book.

Susie works for a company called better way imports.  Better way is a supplier for several companies around the world that rescue women from prostitution, teach them a valuable skill, give them an education and start to help them heal both physically and emotionally.  I could really go into all they do but I'll let you go to their website and browse it yourself.  Every thing they sell is fair trade certified and has to meet standards beyond that.  The stuff is cool so if your wanting something unique for christmas gifts this would be a great place to start.  Or if you own a shop consider selling some of their items. You know the adage "give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day teach a man to fish and he'll eat for a life time?" well that's sort of what they're about giving women an alternative to selling their bodies.

This brings me to the final part of my series.  I feel like one of the biggest ways to advocate for these women, children and families is by "voting with your dollar" money speaks and it speaks loud.  The bible says "the worker deserves his wages" Luke 10:7 and it also says that "The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." 1 Timothy 6:10.  Notice it doesn't say "money is the root of all evil." it says "the LOVE of money." when I first started thinking about this problem and being challenged to change my life style the first thing I thought was "how can I afford it? I'm on a really tight budget!" which is true, I am on a tight budget but maybe it just means I buy less, I have less stuff. I only get coffee at places I know are fair trade certified and I don't eat m&m's in my popcorn (sigh).  I trust that God will provide for me if I do what he asks.  Basically all the excuses in the world boil down to "I love my money I love stuff more then  people." Better Way represents 600 women.  600 is not a lot compared to how many are out there but those women will have children and their children will have children.  Future generations that will grow up and get educated, who won't be living in such poverty. Not to mention the more their products sell the more they can hire.

So how do you know if something you consume is slave free? Well you can't always know but I think every choice we make now when we previously wouldn't have is a step in the right direction.  A lot of it is research (you do not want to know how much time I've spent looking at chocolate web-sites) but their are some basic ways to check.

The most well known one is "fair trade certified". To be fair trade certified a product has to prove and show that it is coming from a place where the people are being paid fairly, and treated fairly.  Some of the money from fair trade products is going back into the community and infrastructure ensuring both education and health care among other things.  Many fair trade ingredients come from a co-op type plantation or farm rather then one owned by a land owner and worked by workers.

Slave-free means that the product was made with out the use of forced labor.  That the people are being paid fairly, but does not include money going back into the community.

The Rainforest Alliance works to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behavior. You can go to their website www.rainforest-alliance.org to see what products are rain forest certified (my favorite is Caribou Coffee, the first major coffee retailer to receive this certification and presently includes 80% of their coffee soon to be 100%)

The Ethical Tea Partnership (ETP) is an alliance of tea packers who are working together to improve the sustainability of the tea sector.  The ETP members share a vision of a thriving industry that is socially just and environmentally sustainable. (my favorite Twinings!!)

I think that in order for something to be considered organic it must also adhere to certain labor practices (at least in chocolate but I think in every thing) so that is a very basic guide line.  Let me know if I'm wrong on that.

Clothing is a tough one.  Even if it says it's made in the U.S did the fabric originate here? For now I'm avoiding buying things that say they were made in small asian countries because they seem to have more problems with forced labor.  Also things that say they were made in Germany a lot of times were made some where else and then filtered through Germany because of restrictions our Country has trading with them. But please let me know if there is a better or easier way to know, or if I'm totally wrong on that one.

I would love to  use this as an excuse to sew more but have had zero luck in figuring out where fabric in our fabric stores comes from.

There are more and more ways to know it's just a matter of research.  I would love your feed back.  If you know of a company or product that is doing the right thing (or one that isn't) please let me know.  I am currently in the process of revamping my blog and want to feature products and get feed-back to make it easier on all of us.  What to buy and where to buy it are big things with me right now. I know this is hard but we're talking about people here.  We're talking about our responsibility to make a difference for good.  There is even more information out there! Check out www.notforsalecampaign.org for more ideas on projects and ways to get involved.  I'm making a commitment to change my life style so that others can have a better life.  I know I won't be perfect I know that there is no perfect way to know about every thing I buy; but when I can I'm going to do the right thing.  I hope you'll at least consider joining me maybe we can wipe out slavery in our own life time wouldn't that be incredible!
Matthew 25
34"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
 37"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
 40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

Monday, October 25, 2010

Slavery Part II

How do women and children come to find themselves as property being used? The answer of course, is that there are hundreds of reasons.  Some of them however, are more common then others and it's important for us to be able to pin point the beginning of such a tragedy if we're going to make some kind of difference to stop it.

Many children and young girls are sold by their parents.  My first reaction is total outrage but then if you look deeper you start to see a system that is giving them little choice.  A father is watching his children starve, he is in such debt to the land owner that the only thing he can do is sell one of them.  Sacrifice one to save the many.  Most girls that are sold are sold for the amount of one weeks groceries.  Or at some point some one in her family borrowed money but the interest on the loan was such that they will never pay it off thereby putting his future generations into the hands of the loan shark, they become his property.  Many times a young women that has left her village will come back with lots of money and tell girls that they can go with her and she'll get them jobs as models etc. they trust her because she's one of them and they want a better life for themselves so they go, she takes their passports for "safe keeping" and they are quickly handed over to be used in brothels. In our country the pimp finds girls who don't have privacy settings on their face book type accounts and "befriends" them.  He listens to them tells them how amazing they are and then when they really need some one they go to him never to see freedom again. And of course many of them are simply kidnapped, stolen away.

It's not just sex, slavery touches almost all good and services.  People who work for nothing or almost nothing are slaves.  Remember Europe several hundred years ago from history? The peasants work the land but every thing they make goes to the Land owner, the peasants live in continual debt to the land owner while he gets rich they stay in poverty.  That is what is happening around the world in farming and manufacturing.  If a woman is working in a sweat shop and doesn't even make enough money to feed herself then she is a slave.  I used to hear when I was young "yea but if she didn't do that then she would be on the streets as a prostitute." I see now that it's conditions like these that lead to prostitution.  If you can make more money turning a trick then working 18 hour long days in a factory you may do it.  Or if your working but some one you love is ill then you have to borrow money from a loan shark etc. You see the cycle just goes on and on.

The worst two things touched by slavery beside the sex industry are (I'm so sorry to tell you this) coffee and chocolate.  In the Ivory Coast, which produces the majority of coco used by the major three candy companies. The following is an excerpt from an article from CorpWatch:

Approximately 286,000 children between the ages of nine and twelve have been reported to work on cocoa farms on the Ivory Coast alone with as many as 12,000 likely to have arrived in their situation as a result of child trafficking. These children are often at risk of injury from machetes and exposure to harmful pesticides. With world cocoa prices so low, many farmers maintain their labor force through trafficking; West African parents living in poverty often sell their kids to cocoa farmers for $50-$100 in hopes that the children will make some money on their own.

Sadly, although these children work 80 to 100 hours per week, children working on cocoa farms frequently make little or no money and are regularly beaten, starved, and exhausted. Most of these children will never even taste the final product that results from their suffering.

AAAAAhHHHHHHHH!!!!!! I am so frustrated right now! How terrible.  Please understand I am not and expert on these things I'm just trying to relay information to you that I think you should know about. Mars, Hersheys and Nestle are doing practically nothing in this country to work on this problem.  Yes I said in this country they do offer Fair Trade products in the UK and Ireland because to quote Hershys "It's a hotter issue over there." So basically it was hurting their bottom line in Europe but not in the U.S so they're going to do the right thing over there but not here! How about you just do the right thing.

What does this mean for us? Well it means that if we start making a fuss they'll have to listen.  To quote a good friend of mine "I vote with my dollar ever day." money talks and the biggest impact we can have as consumers is being careful about what we consume.  It means we're going to pay more for coffee and chocolate. That may suck but I can't stand the thought of having to have a cheap sweet treat when it's literally destroying some one else's future.  Plus the more things we buy in an ethical way the more the costs will go down though they'll never be as cheap as they are now.  Coffee is an easier one this as been an issue for a while so it's way easier to find "fair trade" coffee I pay about a dollar more per pound then regular that doesn't seem like much to me if it means that the farmer is going to be able to feed his family.

I am a libertarian and I believe in free trade but I do NOT believe in slavery! There is a difference.  If people start earning a living wage (meaning a living wage in their country not what we earn) then they stop living in so much debt, they can save, put food on the table their children can get an education and the cycle of poverty that leads to so much harm is broken.  It's the trickle down effect or "reaganomics" for people.

I know this a lot but tomorrow I want to start telling you about the awesome and easy things we can do to help and about companies that are making a difference.  Tomorrow will be a good day, a hopeful day!

Sunday, October 24, 2010


I want to start off today's post by sharing with you one of my big flaws.  When faced with a really big issue, a really big problem; my chest squeezes tight, my blood pressure goes up, and I feel hopeless.  Hopeless is a pretty big scary word for a Jesus loving person because it shows a real lack of faith.  It also shows my selfishness.  What I mean by that is when a really really big issue starts to come into view I will usually turn my back and flee.  I look the other way and pretend that I don't know about said problem because it is easier on me to live in ignorance (it really can be bliss can't it).  If I don't know about a problem I can't feel guilty for not really believing that God is big enough to change things and I don't have to feel guilty about not changing my life to help make a difference.

I was told recently that when faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges there are two types of people.  The first group charges in head long to make the challenge surmountable.  They work at it tirelessly and with great passion until they fizzle out or change does indeed happen (this is my very brave and courageous sister Courtney) and then there are people like me who throw their hands up in the air and say "well I'm just going to pretend it's not there because nothing I do will make a difference" and then go back to bed or stuff their faces with chocolate (well the bed and chocolate thing is what I do).

I love this blog and I love that you all read it.  I want it to be truthful even when it hurts me, and funny.  I really want it to be funny.  I do not want it to be about politics or other hot button issues we get enough of that every day.  But there is something that I think we need to discuss it's big and scary but it's important.  It's about women and children around the globe.  It's so big I'm sure it's going to take more then one day to talk about it but I want you to know as hopeless as it sounds there is a lot being done and a lot we can do so stay tuned in because even if I don't get to solutions today I will get to them in the following posts! I also want you to know that this issue has been on my peripheral for a long time but I really didn't do any thing until it was shoved right into my face and for that I'm sorry.

There are more slaves in our world today then there were during the civil war.  Most of those enslaved are enslaved in some form of sex trafficking.  The average age of a prostitute world wide is 12 years old (the average age in the U.S. is also 12 years). 27 million people are enslaved globally in various forms of sexual and labor exploitation. UNICEF reports that across the world there are more than one million children entering the sex trade every year. The U.S. Department of State estimates that approximately 800,000 persons (mostly women and children) are trafficked across national boarders annually (notice that doesn't count trafficked people with in their own country).

Even here in the United States girls are being smuggled in to be used as prostitutes! Our own teen agers are being targeted and forced into a life a spiritual and actual slavery.  There are so many awful stories that take place right here Some one could write a book (some one probably has).  Please know this is not a problem that doesn't touch us or happen here in our Country.  You know the movie "Taken" that actually happens!! What about the girls who don't have ex-CIA operatives for dads? The United States along with Belgium, Germany, and Japan rank "very high" as destination countries of trafficked persons.  Meaning that these are countries people are being forced into against their will to work as slaves (mostly in the sex industry)

We like to believe that prostitution is a life some one has chosen. But it really isn't and if this is something happening in our own Country, if as Christians we're suppose to be standing up for the oppressed then I don't see how we can't do something.  But in order to understand how this happens we have to begin to understand poverty and how people around the world are being used as slaves in other areas.  I know this a lot and I don't want to be a bummer but there are solutions (Northern Thailand has completely wiped out child prostitution!) there are things we can do please take some time and digest what I've written about check out the resources below and then come back when I'll put some ideas out there give you the heads up on groups that are doing something good and tell you signs and things to look out for so maybe you can be some ones silent angel.

If you want to do some more in depth research check out these sites.

Here are some web sites to keep you busy forever!


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Chapter Five: How Happy will your wife be when she finds out your building a room for your mother to live in?

Turns out, while she may have a smile on her face, she'll sneak up behind you and bash you on the head with your own tools.  Let this be a warning to all of you handymen out there!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Chapter Four: Building a Better Teen Age Daughter.

Scott's wife had been nagging him to spend more time with their teen age daughter Annie.  But they had very little in common so he taught her how to smoke a pipe and choose the best lumber to build things.  Maybe this will be just what she needs to stop dating that greaser Danny.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Chapter Three a Dismemberment Story. (sorry I couldn't help myself)

This poor dad had no idea that he was about to loose his thumb through careless power tool use.  The doctors would have been able to reattach it if Fido had not gotten to it first.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Kiss on the Cheek...

Can be terrible.  As in your husband is chasing you around the house with a super creepy 80's mustache trying to kiss you.  As in the boy from high school, who was super nice and fun to hang out with but you were not interested in him romantically, goes in to kiss you and you dodge and give him your cheek in the nick of time.

A kiss on the cheek can be more wonderful then a million dollars or a bath tub full of dark chocolate.  As in you drop your four year old off at school and tell him to be good, but then, instead of running in after his friends he reaches up on his tip toes and kisses you on the cheek.  You did not ask for said kiss, and he did not pause after it simply ran in to his class room.  But you will try to hold on to that kiss for as long as you can.  It was a kiss on your cheek and on your heart!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Conner is STILL my baby...

Despite the fact that his dad took him to get his hair cut.  No more baby curls no more angel hair!! I am not ashamed to tell you that I cried.

Let me back up a little I knew he was going, his dad did not do it on the sly (he's not that stupid well he's not stupid at all really) but I would not go, I would have nothing to do with the entire thing.  Now that fall is here and we're loosing a lot of the humidity in the air he was loosing his curls making his hair look long and it was in his face... still loosing that baby hair is way too hard!  He looks good and cute but now he looks like a little boy!!!

and here are some photos of him after he got his hair cut.  Well he thinks he's big and grown but I know better; he's still my tiny tiny baby!

Monday, October 11, 2010


I am a little on the chubby side, I love to bake, feed people and eat so it's very fortunate that I also like to exercise.  I am not saying that I'm athletic that is something different entirely (I am not athletic if you're wondering).  But for some reason I like to push myself and sweat and make my muscles tired and take hot showers after and experience that great feeling that you've done something good for yourself; follow that up with an oreo chaser and you've got yourself a perfect day.

I started running in Jr. High track, no one is cut from the track team so it was the logical choice for me.  Also my dad was the high school distant track coach and cross country coach so I thought maybe it was in my blood.  It was not, but it did help me loose a lot of "baby weight" which was really good for my self esteem.  I remember when I first started running in seventh grade I could not even make it a 1/4 mile, I still remember pushing myself to the corner thinking "you can do it" and how proud I was when I did indeed finish that 1/4 mile with out walking.  I had a very encouraging coach who cheered me on and never made me feel fat or slow (thank you Mr. Cornwell).  Well I just kept at it, jogging and running and doing the old jazz-ersize records my aunt gave me (I still can't hear "working at the car wash" with out strutting across the room knocking my elbows together). Until it became part of my life and made me feel good.

When I moved in high school I made the very big and brave decision to join the x-country team.  I knew I needed to meet people and I wanted to make my dad proud, but three miles was a long long way back then.  I told my dad I would only do it if he worked with me through the summer so that I could finish the race with out walking.  He coached me with gusto and was and is the biggest inspiration to me.  He was always proud and cheered no matter how far back in the pack I was.  I'm sure he would have loved a son who was placing first and second but he was perfectly content with a daughter that had 100% commitment and 0% talent.  FYI I never did walk in a single race though I'm sure my running pace was slower then a walk at times.

I never really stopped running and still consider myself a runner despite the fact that what I do now is really more of a jog intermixed with hard core walking.  And even though I've done every thing from Yoga, to Eliptical to Kick Boxing, when I'm in the market for new shoes I always buy running shoes.  Why you ask, because I'm a runner damn it and cross trainers are for wimps!

My favorite way to exercise is out side, that's why I prefer running and walking to the gym.  And I'll walk as long into the winter as possible pulling my old smelly dog along.  The coolest thing about exercising out side at the same time every day is that you'll discover an entire world you didn't know existed.  You'll start to see the same people along your route out there too.  Every one is so friendly in the mornings it's like your all bound together in some kind of cosmic morning work out ritual. A universe where you are important to each others well being, even though you don't know each other at all.  I find myself making up back stories about the people I pass every day; that woman used to weigh a lot in high school but got herself in shape and was one of the sexiest at her 20 year class reunion.  The old couple over there has been married for 45 years and when they were younger they traveled all over the world.  That guy there has always been a runner and used to place in all the high school meets etc.  Imagine my surprise some day if I actually sit down and have a more then a one minute talk with them and find out that he used to be large and she the long-time runner.
This is Gail and Sue.  They make me smile every morning and are what
I'm hoping Megan and I are like when we're their age.

This is Betty. Isn't she gorgeous I would kill for a body like hers.

Pam jogs on these bouncy things every day! She must have total buns of steal!

Seeing all these smiling faces and exchanging pleasantries always gets my day off to a positive start.  I find that having a floppy eared dog trotting along side you helps encourage people to open up.  They just can't resist giving you a good morning when you're doofy dog is running beside you with his tongue dragging on the pavement.

"There's no way I could run!" your thinking, but that's not true.  The hardest part of running is pacing yourself.  You can't go out and expect to run two miles at a break neck speed the first time out you've got to give yourself time to improve and get in shape. No one says you can't walk either I'm just encouraging you to get out in the mornings, meet new people and experience the exhilaration that comes from exercising first thing in the morning in the fresh air.  Some people like to listen to their MP3 player but I like the sound of the birds and the wind and the thumping of my feet against the pavement, it brings me to a place of clarity and contentment.

I guess I'm sharing this with you because I want my friends that I pass every morning, making comments to them about the weather etc., to know that they mean something to me.  For some reason your smiles and commitment encourage me.  And if you've thought about getting out there but just couldn't climb out from under your covers I encourage you to get out there and see what your missing.  Honestly the autumn trees are the most gorgeous with the early morning sun glowing behind them.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Chapter Two, the Art of Being Manly.

Being a man is wonderful.  You get to smoke pipes hang up your tools and astound your neighbors.  Your son will always adore you even when he becomes a famous baseball player.  As long as you remember to plan your workshop!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

What if God Were One Of Us.


So my husband and I watch quite a lot of television.  Most people really frown on this sort of thing but we watch it together, discuss it, laugh over it and it fuels many of our inside jokes and asides.  It really is one of our hobbies and something we enjoy doing together.  I could go on and on about different series that we've loved and maybe some day I will.  There is also a book that we both love called Windows of The Soul by Ken Gire.  What is really fabulous about this book is that it talks about finding God every where, not just in church or on Sunday mornings.  He talks about nature and animals and he even talks about movies and television.

All this to say that I can't stop thinking about this week's episode of Glee.  I can not recommend this show for every one, it is silly and about teen agers and is a musical so clearly it's a bit different, but Brian and I happen to really like it.  It's different, and deals with all sorts of issues and sometimes we agree with their take on it and some times we don't.  This week's episode (Grilled Cheesus) was all about spirituality and people's beliefs.  They did a good job walking the line of trying not to offend any body while staying true to the sensitive nature of the topic.  While I did not agree with every thing they said ("church is full of people who hate gays and women" maybe  it was suppose to be funny?) I did like that they didn't show the people with faith as stupid and ignorant; in fact the characters who were the most adamantly opposed to God came off as being a bit bigoted in their own way.  I liked that they didn't give us any definitive answers, at the end of the episode one of the young men was still struggling with believing, because in real life these issues aren't solved and put into a nice neat package at the end of fifty minutes.

Two things that really struck me (and please understand these are not exact quotes but as close as I can remember them) was a conversation between Kurt and Mercedes.  Kurt is hurting over the illness of his dad and very outspoken against any forms of faith, Mercedes says to him, "I know you don't believe but I feel like if you close yourself off to anything spiritual your going to miss out on a whole other world.  Life's too hard to go through it alone." Can I get an Amen?! How many of us, even Christians, are not experiencing every thing there is, every thing God wants for us?  The second thing was Sue Sylvester (the evil cheer leading coach) was talking about how she had lost her faith because when she was young she had prayed that her special needs sister would be healed. She said "I realized that it wasn't that I wasn't praying hard enough, it was that no one was listening" this really struck of cord with me and I'm sure we've all been there but the amazing thing was that her sister basically tells her that God doesn't make mistakes and that she wasn't healed because she was perfect the way God made her.  Tears even as I write this! How many parents have had to learn this truth the hard way?  How many Christians have refused to believe this in order to stay comfortable with the way they think things should be?????

The best quote, I thought, of the entire episode was when the guidance counselor says to Finn, "The big questions are big for a reason.  Every one struggles with them." They ended the episode with Alanis Morissett's song What If God Were One of Us. And it's this music that's been playing in my head all week (When this song was popular my mom really hated it, but the more I listen to the lyrics the more I feel like it's not anti-God it's just a song expressing one of those "big questions" and isn't that what art is for?) also I took out the chorus b/c that's not what I wanted to talk about:

If God had a name what would it be?
And would you call it to his face?
If you were faced with him in all his glory
what would you ask if you had just one question?

If God had a face
What would it look like?
And would you want to see
If seeing meant that you would have to believe
In things like heaven and Jesus and the saints
and all the Prophets

What if God was one of us
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Trying to make his way home
Just trying to make his way home
Back up to Heaven all alone
Nobody callin' on the phone
cept for the Pope maybe in Rome

What a simple way to ask such tough questions.  And the thing is I could give you scriptures to answer so many of these.  God does have a name, it's father (psalm 69:30), You can talk to God and you don't need a phone (John 9:31), God IS one of us, he is here all around us (John 14:16). But that's not really the solution is it?  The real problem is:
      If God had a face
     What would it look like?
     And would you want to see
     If seeing meant that you would have to believe
     In things like heaven and Jesus and the saints
     and all the Prophets
The real problem is deciding if you want to believe.  Believing in God means changing your life, it means giving things over to him.  So many people are looking for an excuse NOT to believe because they're scared, or selfish or they like their life the way it is.  Faith is scary and when it really comes down to it you either decide to believe or you don't, no amount of evidence either way is going to change that. Living for God does open up an entire new world but some times it means closing doors on things in this one and that can be too hard for some people to handle.  I just wish that more people could know what God truly wants for them all that he has to offer.

So you all suffered through my ramblings on a musical television show.  Where are some unusual places you've seen God, or spirituality?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Better Homes & Gardens Saga Volume I

I love cheesy things.  Both of the dairy and emotional variety.  I can not help but pick up super cheesy cook books and the like if they have those illustrations from the fifties.  Following is the beginning of my Better Homes and Gardens Handyman's Book from 1951 put in my own prose.

Chapter One:

"Oh I'm so lucky to have a handyman for a husband!" Emily thought to herself dreamily, "even if I did have to marry a giant! Just look at his bulging tricep. Maybe he'll notice my ridiculous shoes and huge pockets."

"Is my miniature wife looking at me?" Jim asked while chewing on his pipe. "Good, I was hoping she'd notice my giant muscle." then, thinking to himself; "Flex Jimmie Flex! Oh yea I am awesome!"

Coming soon chapter two...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I got new windows!

Isn't that exciting?  Well, it is to me you see we have three huge living room windows that do not open! They are only one single pain of glass so they are cold in the winter (you can seriously feel the winter air blasting right through them) and in the summer there is no cross breeze! Ugh, I've hated it since we moved in and honestly they're a little modern looking for my tastes.

So after we had our bathroom remodeled which was a huge improvement in the house and a big "grown up" step for us we had some money left over with which my husband suggested we replace the two, slightly smaller windows in the living room.  I did a dance and kissed him.

It is crazy how something as small as windows can change the look of your house! These windows have pains which is way more my style (because I'm a pain in the butt! Get it! That one was for you dad).  They open and close and can tilt in for easy cleaning (which means they will get cleaned at least twice as much as they had before since I'm pretty sure they've been cleaned once in four years).  Windows are pricey though, the cost of these with installation was in the $700 range and all our windows are old so I think it will be a slow process of changing out two a year. Oh my some day I'll be able to open the windows with out having holes in the screens so large squirrels can get in (just kidding they're not that big... or maybe they're just afraid of the dog).

Now that the outside of my house looks great, and I have great new windows I have to get new curtains! I've hated these curtains for so long; now they're even worse! Oh if only the list of things I need was smaller then the amount of money I do have... mom, if I don't get new curtains before christmas (which I hope to) add that to my christmas list.

What look of curtain do you all think I should go for?  I'm thinking a blue to pick up some of the blue in my cool chair or maybe an oatmeal with texture? I'd love your opinions.

Friday, October 1, 2010

This is going to get weird.

I'm not sure why, but what I want to share with you today is strange but it's been on my mind for a while.  I want to begin by saying I am NOT a biblical scholar I am NOT an expert on Ancient Hebrew traditions.  I am a Christian woman who loves to study the scripture I am also an american woman who at times is conflicted over seeming discrimination in the pages of scriptures.  I have tons and tons to say on this very broad topic but today I want to talk about Leviticus 15:19-33

19 " 'When a woman has her regular flow of blood, the impurity of her monthly period will last seven days, and anyone who touches her will be unclean till evening.

 20 " 'Anything she lies on during her period will be unclean, and anything she sits on will be unclean. 21 Whoever touches her bed must wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he will be unclean till evening. 22 Whoever touches anything she sits on must wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he will be unclean till evening. 23 Whether it is the bed or anything she was sitting on, when anyone touches it, he will be unclean till evening.

 24 " 'If a man lies with her and her monthly flow touches him, he will be unclean for seven days; any bed he lies on will be unclean.

 28 " 'When she is cleansed from her discharge, she must count off seven days, and after that she will be ceremonially clean. 29 On the eighth day she must take two doves or two young pigeons and bring them to the priest at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. 30 The priest is to sacrifice one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. In this way he will make atonement for her before the LORD for the uncleanness of her discharge.

Ok right about now your thinking I've lost my mind but please stick with me.  This passage has always bothered me, it bugs me that we're considered "unclean" over something we have no control over and over something God himself gave us.  It bothers me that this uncleanness comes with headaches and cramps and fatigue and that if it weren't for this whole thing there would be no new life.  How can something so "vile" be the thing that brings babies into the world?

On the other hand I have always believed that most GOD ordained (not man ordained) things in scripture have a dual purpose, especially in the Old Testament, first to make God's people visible to those around them (circumcision makes them physically different) but also to keep them physically more safe and healthy (there is less risk of infection to a sensitive area during a time when there were no daily showers).  Take not eating pork for example; first other cultures notice that the Hebrews don't eat pork but also pork can be deadly if not cooked properly which is made even more difficult if you are cooking over a camp fire.

So this is the back ground to what lead me to where we're headed.  My husband is reading through the Bible in a year and happened upon the above scripture.  We talked, joked mostly, about it a little as it's a very sensitive topic for my husband (I grew up with a biology teacher for a dad, a mom and two sisters I am not sensitive about this topic) and we happened upon the fact that in ancient Hebrew culture the women would go to "the red tent" during times of child birth and their monthly period.  A day or two later I was hiding in the bathroom (did I say hiding? I meant cleaning that sounds less pathetic right?) while the children were running wild.  And it occurred to me, women in ancient cultures had it a lot tougher then me.  They had no bathrooms to hide in (I mean clean).  I don't think they went on many dates with their husbands. They had to sew, grind grain, make food etc, and usually had way more kids then we do with out the luxury of a basement to run and escape the noise (what did I come down here for any way? Oooh my secret chocolate stash!)

So maybe the fact that they "had" to leave their insanely small houses or tents full of children and husbands to go be alone with other women wasn't such a bad thing.  Think about it; they had to leave no one could make them feel guilty for going.  They got to spend a week chatting with other women learning from other women.  During the time of the month when you're not feeling so great at least your not being demanded on by six small kids.  Think back to that first scary horrifying period you had, wouldn't it have been great to not have to face your brothers or dad and be surrounded by other older wiser women who would care for you and explain the miracle of it all?  How about when you have your children? In a culture with out hospitals and epidurals who better to care for you than other women?  Women who have been there, what an amazing way for a young woman to learn about life! For a good two weeks after you give birth your with other women who will help you and let you sleep and show you the ropes of breast feeding!

The term "unclean" can mean a lot of things.  Let's be real having your period isn't very clean, especially before Tampax and Always came along.  It's in our mind that God is saying there is something spiritually unclean about menstruating but maybe he's just saying it's messy.  Before washers and dryers and back when you were living in such close quarters you would need to be careful about spreading germs and disease, but God did not design the cycle of life to hamper our spirits.  Having your period does not make you sinful!  God knew that women were going to have a hard time, that the demands made on them would not always be fair and that they would not always be treated fairly, he also designed us to need fellowship with other women and that is why I think there was a wonderful joyful dual purpose in the red tent.  God ordained that women would take time away from their duties as wife and mother and spend real quality time with other women.  I think that is really amazing.