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Testing Some Images

me, Anna
I can't believe I haven't posted here in MORE THAN a YEAR!  So much has happened!  And I haven't done much posting anywhere else either.

Anyway, I'm talking with my friend flowerppot and she's having some issues inserting images from Flickr.  I've forgotten how all this works here, so I'm testing.

Here's some Cranberry Bread that looks really good:

Cranberry Nut Bread

I should make some of that!  Soon.  Helpful tip: always keep cranberries in the freezer!

All right, I think she figured out what she's doing, and I've refreshed myself on how this works here - Hey! things are a bit different here than they were last time I was here!  I mean, it's just been more than a year.  Why would things change?

Another picture.  Because I can.

On the Beach

We Want to Get Rid of the Carpet

money, paid, savings
One of the goals we have for our house, whether we stay in this one or end up moving, is to remove all of the carpet and put in hard surfaces.  Currently we have ceramic tile in the kitchen, dining room, front entryway, and bathrooms, and we have laminate in the kids' bedrooms.  Someday soon we want to rip out the carpet in the living room, hallway, and our bedroom, and put in solid wood flooring.  Yeah, laminate is good enough for the extra bedrooms, but we get hardwood floors, maybe reclaimed wood floors?  I like the idea of being Green and using reclaimed materials.  I guess we'll have to see what we can afford and what we like.

If we lived in Florida, Arizona or someplace like that, I think I'd like TerraCotta Tiles from AncientFloors.com throughout the entire house.  These handmade tiles are gorgeous, but I just don't think terracotta floors are the right thing for Wisconsin.  Maybe I'm wrong because large terracotta tiles were used in the first radiant heating applications in ancient Roma, so maybe those clay tiles could be used to help keep the house warm.  Of course, there would be more to it than just installing the tiles on the floor.  I'm just thinking about how cool they can be in the summer - especially appreciated in areas with really hot summers.  I bet those people down south that are already getting temperatures in the 80s and 90s are appreciating their terra cotta flooring if they have it.  We don't get super hot summers here, but I still think I'd love the feel of these tiles under my feet.

It's not just the coolness or the heat, though.  I think solid wood floors actually fit our house better than Terra cotta tile would - no matter how much I might like the looks of it - and that it's freshly baked and handmade in Italy, France or Spain.  How cool is that? Then again, I could get hardwood flooring made in the USA, and that's important too. This company sells some gorgeous solid wood flooring, and since they own the land, there is no middleman - meaning great wood floors at a better price.

Yep, it will be tough deciding exactly what we want, but we will eventually get rid of all the carpet.  Except probably in the basement.  Either way, this site has plenty of great-looking options.

I Wish My Mother Had Aborted Me?

me, Anna
I really shouldn't read stuff like this - both the article and the comments.  It makes me mad.  So, just some of my thoughts as I'm reading:

What's messed up about this argument - saying, essentially, "I wish my mom had sacrificed MY life so that her life could have been better." - wouldn't the opposite be true?  What if mom sacrifices HER life so that her child's life might be better?

Mom could choose to sacrifice her own life (not to the point of dying, so not exactly the same, but by putting her selfish desires and 'needs' aside and realizing there is now another person to be considered - as a direct result of MOM's actions) so that her CHILD'S life might be better - or, in this case, so that her child might actually get to HAVE a life.  And if she really does not want to 'give up' her selfish little life, it only takes 9 months - and then she never has to see that child again, but at least that child has a chance at a life.

Better to KILL your child than potentially become an abusive parent?  I don't believe abuse is OK, but that doesn't mean it would be better for the child never to be born, does it?  Abortion as an act of courage and selflessness?  Giving the child up for adoption could be classified that way - a few months' 'inconvenience' and then give the child to someone who actually wants a child - but killing your child because you 'can't handle it' or never wanted to be a mom or don't know how to love is just plain selfish and wrong.  If you don't want kids or aren't ready to have kids, you already know that - before you ever get pregnant.

Anti-choice?  NO, I believe you should be ABLE to make a choice.  Just make it BEFORE there's another person involved.  Maybe now that birth control is supposed to be free, those women who don't want to become mothers will actually make the choice to use it and avoid the need to try to convince themselves and everyone else that 'it's nothing more than a conglomeration of cells' and therefore not actually a person.  No baby is created, and they can go on about their selfish little lives just as before.

OK, moving on...  I know better than to click those things.

Those Two Words Don't Go Together

rose, bible
A question on facebook this morning - "Do you support gay marriage?" got me thinking:

No, I really don't support gay marriage.  To me, those two words just don't go together.

I have a hard time distinguishing in my mind between marriage as a covenant between a man and a woman that was ordained by God, and marriage as a contract sanctioned by a state/government that wants nothing to do with God.  They really aren't the same thing.  Government never should have been involved in marriage in the first place.  That's something that is between a husband, a wife, and God.  A civil contract - that's different.

So when someone says 'gay marriage' I can't help but think, "But marriage IS between a man and a woman!" That's what marriage IS."  And not being ready to change the very DEFINITION of marriage isn't really about hate (as always seems to be thrown out there) or trying to deny people their rights.  

Maybe, instead of trying to redefine marriage, we should stop trying to call the government sanctioned contract 'marriage' - for everybody.  My husband and I would have been MARRIED regardless of what the government had to say. Just call it a civil contract or a civil union and be done with it.

Does the terminology really make a difference?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  But maybe it would be easier for people to separate in their minds between actual marriage - before God - and something that's been called marriage but really has absolutely nothing to do with God or beliefs, something that's just a contract that comes with the resulting responsibilities and benefits.

Most of the people who want to change the definition of marriage don't want anything to do with God, anyway - so why try to enter into something that was originally ordained by Him?  They just want the contract and the benefits.  (and we're not just talking about gay people here, either)

So, no - I will not be supporting 'gay marriage' but I also won't be actively opposing it.  If somebody asks me to define marriage, I'm still going to define it as being between a man and a woman - because it is.  That's not hateful; that's just stating my belief. 

(I looked up the definition of marriage on dictionary.com - and they have already attempted to redefine the term.  Oh well.)

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Tommy

rose, bible
From my email:


I HOPE YOU ENJOY THE STORY LINE AS MUCH AS I DID....................


John Powell, a professor at Loyola University in Chicago, writes about a student in his Theology of Faith class named Tommy:

Some twelve years ago, I stood watching my university students file into the classroom for our first session in the Theology of Faith. That was the day I first saw Tommy. He was combing his long flaxen hair, which hung six inches below his shoulders.

It was the first time I had ever seen a boy with hair that long.

I guess it was just coming into fashion then. I know in my mind that it isn't what's on your head but what's in it that counts; but on that day. I was unprepared and my emotions flipped.

I immediately filed Tommy under "S" for strange... Very strange.

Tommy turned out to be the "atheist in residence" in my Theology of Faith course.

He constantly objected to, smirked at, or whined about the possibility of an unconditionally loving Father/God. We lived with each other in relative peace for one semester, although I admit he was for me at times a serious pain in the back pew.

When he came up at the end of the course to turn in his final exam, he asked in a cynical tone, "Do you think I'll ever find God?"

I decided instantly on a little shock therapy. "No!" I said very emphatically.

"Why not," he responded, "I thought that was the product you were pushing."

I let him get five steps from the classroom door and then I called out, "Tommy! I don't think you'll ever find Him, but I am absolutely certain that He will find you!" He shrugged a little and left my class and my life.

I felt slightly disappointed at the thought that he had missed my clever line -- He will find you! At least I thought it was clever.

Later I heard that Tommy had graduated, and I was duly grateful.

Then a sad report came. I heard that Tommy had terminal cancer.

Before I could search him out, he came to see me.

When he walked into my office, his body was very badly wasted and the long hair had all fallen out as a result of chemotherapy. But his eyes were bright and his voice was firm, for the first time, I believe.

"Tommy, I've thought about you so often; I hear you are sick," I blurted out.

"Oh, yes, very sick. I have cancer in both lungs. It's a matter of weeks."

"Can you talk about it, Tom?" I asked.

"Sure, what would you like to know?" he replied.

"What's it like to be only twenty-four and dying?

"Well, it could be worse.

"Like what?

"Well, like being fifty and having no values or ideals, like being fifty and thinking that booze, seducing women, and making money are the real biggies in life.

I began to look through my mental file cabinet under "S" where I had filed Tommy as strange. (It seems as though everybody I try to reject by classification, God sends back into my life to educate me.)

"But what I really came to see you about," Tom said, "is something you said to me on the last day of class." ( He remembered!) He continued, "I asked you if you thought I would ever find God and you said, 'No!' which surprised me. Then you said, 'But He will find you. I thought about that a lot, even though my search for God was hardly intense at that time. (My clever line. He thought about that a lot!) "But when the doctors removed a lump from my groin and told me that it was malignant, that's when I got serious about locating God. And when the malignancy spread into my vital organs, I really began banging bloody fists against the bronze doors of heaven.

But God did not come out. In fact, nothing happened. Did you ever try anything for a long time with great effort and with no success?

You get psychologically glutted, fed up with trying. And then you quit.

"Well, one day I woke up, and instead of throwing a few more futile appeals over that high brick wall to a God who may be or may not be there, I just quit. I decided that I didn't really care about God, about an afterlife, or anything like that. I decided to spend what time I had left doing something more profitable. I thought about you and your class and I remembered something else you had said:

'The essential sadness is to go through life without loving.

But it would be almost equally sad to go through life and leave this world without ever telling those you loved that you had loved them.

So, I began with the hardest one, my Dad. He was reading the newspaper when I approached him.

"Dad. "

" Yes, what?" he asked without lowering the newspaper.

"Dad, I would like to talk with you."

"Well, talk.

"I mean. It's really important."

The newspaper came down three slow inches. "What is it?"

"Dad, I love you, I just wanted you to know that." Tom smiled at me and said it with obvious satisfaction, as though he felt a warm and secret joy flowing inside of him.

" The newspaper fluttered to the floor. Then my father did two things I could never remember him ever doing before. He cried and he hugged me. We talked all night, even though he had to go to work the next morning. "

It felt so good to be close to my father, to see his tears, to feel his hug, to hear him say that he loved me."

"It was easier with my mother and little brother. They cried with me, too, and we hugged each other, and started saying real nice things to each other. We shared the things we had been keeping secret for so many years. "

"I was only sorry about one thing --- that I had waited so long. "

"Here I was, just beginning to open up to all the people I had actually been close to..

"Then, one day I turned around and God was there.

" He didn't come to me when I pleaded with Him. I guess I was like an animal trainer holding out a hoop, 'C'mon, jump through. C'mon, I'll give you three days, three weeks. "

Apparently God does things in His own way and at His own hour.

" But the important thing is that He was there. He found me! You were right. He found me even after I stopped looking for Him. "

"Tommy," I practically gasped, "I think you are saying something very important and much more universal than you realize. To me, at least, you are saying that the surest way to find God is not to make Him a private possession, a problem solver, or an instant consolation in time of need, but rather by opening to love..

You know, the Apostle John said that. He said: 'God is love, and anyone who lives in love is living with God and God is living in him.

"Tom , could I ask you a favor? You know, when I had you in class you were a real pain. But (laughingly) you can make it all up to me now. Would you come into my present Theology of Faith course and tell them what you have just told me? If I told them the same thing it wouldn't be half as effective as if you were to tell it..

"Oooh.. I was ready for you, but I don't know if I'm ready for your class."

"Tom, think about it. If and when you are ready, give me a call."

In a few days Tom called, said he was ready for the class, that he wanted to do that for God and for me.

So we scheduled a date.

However, he never made it. He had another appointment, far more important than the one with me and my class.

Of course, his life was not really ended by his death, only changed.

He made the great step from faith into vision. He found a life far more beautiful than the eye of man has ever seen or the ear of man has ever heard or the mind of man has ever imagined.

Before he died, we talked one last time.

I'm not going to make it to your class," he said.

"I know, Tom."

"Will you tell them for me? Will you ... tell the whole world for me?"

I will, Tom. I'll tell them. I'll do my best."

So, to all of you who have been kind enough to read this simple story about God's love, thank you for listening. And to you, Tommy, somewhere in the sunlit, verdant hills of heaven --- I told them, Tommy, as best I could.

If this story means anything to you, please pass it on to a friend or two.

It is a true story and is not enhanced for publicity purposes.

With thanks, Rev. John Powell, Professor,

Loyola University, Chicago

___________________________


The Sad State of Marriage

help, whoops, scared, Horton
The other day I made a comment on facebook regarding the sad state of marriage in today's society: (triggered by an interview on The View)
 

Sex between a man and a woman, within the context of marriage, is good. Unfortunately, this society has lost sight of that and wants us all to believe that sex in any context is good. People seem to think it's odd to save something that special for the one person you will spend your life with. That's another thing - marriage = one man, one woman, FOREVER - not just until you don't feel like it anymore or until you 'drift apart' whatever that means.

It just gets so frustrating seeing so many couples splitting up and hearing lame excuses like, "we drifted apart" or "we just weren't happy."  OK, so most of the time these are celebrities - who aren't actually a reflection of real people, right? - but still.  It has me wondering why they even bother to get married anymore.  Did somebody change the whole idea of marriage somewhere along the line?  Is "Till Death do Us Part" still part of a marriage ceremony or did they change it to "Until we don't feel like it anymore or drift apart or just get tired of being married to each other" or something along those lines?  I'm thinking that what we call marriage in this society doesn't bear much resemblance to real marriage. 

I mean, I don't like the whole 'till death do us part thing either.  Do we really mean it when we say that?  I don't think we actually want to face that possibility - that one of us will die, leaving the other behind to face life alone.  My grandparents were married 70 years.  The day we buried Grandpa, Grandma told me she 'wasn't ready to say good-bye' to him.  One of my friends commented on facebook that 'FOREVER is only for this lifetime' which is true - but how many of us are really ready for the lifetime to end?  I think when we get married, we are thinking of forever.  But maybe that's just me....


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