Friday, January 16, 2009

Frosty Friday Five

A sprinkling of the stuff on my mind this morning:

1. I caught up on my workout blogging - Sweat Report. At the gym today I heard an old favorite by Van Morrison. Gotta love Van Morrison!

Wild Nights - Van Morrison

When I headed out to the gym this morning the windchill was -27F. Now that is COLD.

2. Researchers studying how hormones influence behavior reported this week that women with higher levels not only feel prettier, but they appear more attractive to others. Earlier this week, U.S. and British researchers showed that male financial traders whose finger lengths indicate high testosterone levels in the womb made more money.

3. I always wonder who is it who wants to be hired to be a sniffer for sweat studies? This week a report was released about a pheromone study done by Rice University psychologist Denise Chen and her colleagues. 20 heterosexual males were asked to stop wearing deodorant and scented products for a few days. Cotton pads were placed in their armpits and they watched some arousing fare. Those sweaty pads were removed and new pads were put in place to be worn while the men weren't stimulated. 19 courageous women were recruited to sniff the pads while simultaneously undergoing brain scans. According to the study, "Sure enough, the women's brains responded very differently depending on which sweat they sniffed. (And no, none of them passed out.) The sexual sweat, but not the normal sweat, activated the right orbitofrontal cortex and the right fusiform cortex, brain areas that help us recognize emotions and perceive things, respectively."

Basically, the gist of it is that you can probably smell someone is interested/in the mood whether it is something he wants to divulge or not.

Interesting factoid: A quarter of all people with smell disorders find that their sex drive disappears. To me that says that not all people with smell disorders have their pheromone receptor damaged. Definitely an fascinating science to explore.

I wonder how much sweat sniffers get paid? It's a pretty stinky job!

4. According to the Associated Press, booze sales are not recession proof. As the economy has slumped, so have beer sales.

5. I am reading a wonderful book: "A Stroke of Insight" by Jill Bolte Taylor, PHd. At age 37 this neuroanatomitist had a hemorrhage in her left brain. Being a brain scientist, she knew what was happening to her and was amazingly able to keep it together to get help. Within just a few hours she could no longer walk, talk, read or write. The book chronicles what it was like over the next 8 years - and what incredible lessons she learned. Turns out the Oprah did a piece about her and you can view it here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Thoughts on a piece by John MacArthur, etc.

I'm planning on writing about false unity in the church, but this article by John MacArthur entitled "Raising the Error Alert" caught my attention today. Here is a snippet (click on the link for the full article):

Bible teaching, even in the best of venues today, has been deliberately dumbed-down, made as broad and as shallow as possible, oversimplified, adapted to the lowest common denominator-- and then tailored to appeal to people with short attention spans.

Sermons are almost always brief, simplistic, overlaid with as many references to pop culture as possible, and laden with anecdotes and illustrations. (Jokes and funny stories drawn from personal experience are favored over cross-references and analogies borrowed from Scripture itself.) Typical sermon topics are heavily weighted in favor of man-centered issues (such as personal relationships, successful living, self-esteem, how-to lists, and so on)--to the exclusion of the many Christ-exalting doctrinal themes of Scripture. In other words, what most contemporary preachers do is virtually the opposite of what Paul was describing when he said he sought "to declare . . . the whole counsel of God" (Acts 20:27).

Not only that, but here's how Paul explained his own approach to gospel ministry, even among unchurched pagans in the most debauched Roman culture:

I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)

Notice that Paul deliberately refused to customize his message or adjust his delivery to suit the Corinthians' philosophical bent or their cultural tastes. When he says later in the epistle, "To the Jews I became as a Jew . . . to those who are without law, as without law . . . to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some" (1 Corinthians 9:20-22), he was describing how he made himself a servant to all (v. 19) and the fellow of those whom he was trying to reach. In other words, he avoided making himself a stumbling block. He was not saying he adapted the gospel message (which he plainly said is a stumbling block--1:23). He did not adopt methods to suit the tastes of a worldly culture.

Paul had no thought of catering to a particular generation's preferences, and he used no gimmicks as attention-getters. Whatever antonym you can think of for the word showmanship would probably be a good description of Paul's style of public ministry. He wanted to make it clear to everyone (including the Corinthian converts themselves) that lives and hearts are renewed by means of the Word of God and nothing else. That way they would begin to understand and appreciate the power of the gospel message.

--I've heard some try to say in his Mars Hill discourse that Paul was appealing to the culture by adapting to it yet he was not. He used a piece of their culture to point the way to God. That false understanding is often used to justify "seeker friendly" churches where outsiders can feel comfortable about all this Jesus stuff. Guess what? It's not comfort that leads us to Christ - it's stumbling. It's falling headlong into Him and denying ourselves. He's a stumbling stone and a rock of offense according 1o 1 Peter 2:8.

Itching ears crave to be tickled, so easy listening from the pulpit is trendy and hearing the "whole counsel of God" is not. Here's what John MacArthur says about "seeker friendly" churches in this article taken from his book "Ashamed of the Gospel."


And on another note -

People are frail. People trip up, they fall, they sin. What happened to grace? What happened to mercy? And what happened to standing up for what is right and true? What happened to bearing with one another, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave us? It seems like Colossians 3:13 and Ephesians 4:32 are too often tossed out like yesterday's news.

A friend called the other day hoping for help finding a good church in the area. Recently their pastor was forced into resignation by a board that has done this before. From all accounts this man's service really turned around that church after a very low time - and yet a group of power members under the banner of "church leadership" did not consult the rest of the Body or ask them for prayer about this decision (feeling they did not have to) and made a decision that has emptied their church. The rest of the body was expected to accept that decision and show unity...or leave. Most chose to leave. I definitely understood what she was going through - I told her we must live in parallel universes.

It gets very disheartening to hear once again of a church stabbing its own. It's shameful really - and so often it is done in the name of "church unity" and "obeying the leadership." How often do we see something done to someone else, something that seems terribly unjust and no matter how the Scriptures are bent and twisted, it just doesn't seem quite right. And yet we stick around - for all the wrong reasons. For fellowship, out of obligation, etc. Chances are that the discernment which screamed "This is wrong" will still be inside, crying out until you find out in the hardest way possible that you should have listened. Or worse yet, you might become numb to that voice. That deafness, I believe is, far, far worse.

If you do stick around, yet make your feelings known that you are not in agreement and don't want to be party to that sort of bogus Christianity, then guess what? You can expect to be an entertaining source of gossip. You will be called "poison" and other things. Unless you're willing to sit back and see injustice and all its ill fruits, you can expect a target drawn neatly on your back. It shouldn't come as a shock, after all Christians have a reputation for shooting their own wounded.

The - for want of a better word - cool thing about that is that when you find yourself being persecuted, there can be an amazing peace. What an opportunity it is to identify even in the slightest way with the mockery and suffering that Christ was up against! When you find yourself betrayed by those you thought were friends, who led you to trust can rejoice knowing that it was a friend that betrayed the Lord. As the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 8:18 "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us."

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Porpoise Driven Life?

I couldn't resist. There's nothing like well-done satire.

Snow, dreams, etc.

I love shoveling snow. I shoveled mid-morning and we had a good 7". I wanted to get the driveway cleared for Pat so it would be nice for him when he got home from the doctor. When he did come home he grabbed a shovel and helped me clear the sidewalks plus made a path for the garbage cans. I'm about ready to go out and do another round of it.

While I was shoveling I was thinking about the book I picked up from the library - "You Can Do It! The Merit Badge Handbook for Grown-up Girls" by Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas. As the back cover says it "offers all the practical information, how-to-support and kick-in-the-pants encouragement you need to accomplish your dreams."

I started to think about some of the things I already have done and the things I might want to do.


Running - Run a marathon. 26.2 miles between Akron and Cleveland on the Towpath Trail (turned out to be more after Julie & I took the wrong fork in the trail). Thanks to autoimmune disease my doctor doesn't think that running another marathon would be a good idea for my immune system. It might just wig out again - and that is *not* a pleasant thing.

Dance - I took lyrical ballet with my daughter for a couple of years and also a tap class. I even performed in the recital. I would like to get back into that.

I would also like to continue in belly-dancing training. I think, should finances allow, that I'll sign up for an intermediate class up at the college. I had been doing it regularly and somehow got out of the habit. I came across one of my coin skirts today while cleaning and thought...yeah, I should dance later.

Public speaking - I was a guest speaker at NEOUCOM's M-1 orientation for three years in a row. I also put on a "Get started in homeschooling" seminar twice with my friend, Jan.

Personal training - I always wanted to earn my personal training certification and after completing 500 hours of coursework, I passed my exam with flying colors. I just need to go get my CPR/First Aid re-certification before I "do" much of anything with it.

So those are some of the things I've always wanted to do and have done. So what about the things in this book that are sparking an interest in me?

Dream possibilities:

Hiking - Pat & I have both always wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail. It doesn't have to be the whole thing, just bits and pieces. I'd also like for us to climb "X" number of mountain peaks.

Gardening - That is something which requires patience and that would be a good virtue to cultivate. I've been able to grow one absolutely perfect pumpkin and keep some flowers alive. That's the extent of my gardening at this time.

Cooking - I like to cook and am a pretty good cook. I wouldn't mind learning to be extra creative. With the food allergies around here, it would be great to have the confidence to be creative with the foods that are safe.

Acting - I love to act and actually do sporadically at the medical school. I've casted/directed/produced half a dozen Christmas plays - and made the sets. Not to mention the sets I've made and the skits I've written/performed for vacation Bible school over the years. I keep telling myself that I'll take the step toward getting involved in community theater. I really enjoy building sets and making things "work" with whatever I find at hand.

Martial Arts - I would love to kick some butt! However, I'm a bit unsure about being thrown to the ground. This is one I'll have to think over a bit better - and consult my chiropractor about.

Figure competition - Right now Jenna and I are training to burn off the remnants of body fat and show all the muscle we've built underneath. Figure is softer than bodybuilding and doesn't require the gymnastics ability that fitness competition requires.

Volunteering - This is something I do all the time. However, I've always wanted to help at a crisis pregnancy center. I would like to learn the ins and outs and how to really, truly help someone get the hand-up that they need.

I can definitely say there are things in this book that DO NOT interest me. If I dreamed of these things, it would be in nightmares.

Definite No-s:

Car care - Ick. I have no interest and no mechanical ability to speak of. If there is a man available to do it, let him have at it. I'm blessed with Pat who is AMAZINGLY skilled.

Skydiving - Uhm, that would be a resounding "NO" on that one.

Wine appreciation - Laughable - I don't drink and don't want to.

Do-It-Yourself Handyman - Another one that is most decidedly not up my alley. Again, I'm blessed with a husband who can do pretty much anything.

Scrapbooking and Stamping - I'm lumping those together. I despise them both and will refrain from getting on my soapbox about how much I dislike them.

There are all sorts of "badges" and a world of things to dream about. "You Can Do It!" is certainly an inspiring book. It's nice to look at these possibilities and realize, "I'm not too old to do this! I'm not too old to have fun and to explore life."

The other day I read a poem where the writer was capturing the essence of mid-life depression - it was about all the beautiful things that were past as if they were never to be experienced again - from the romantic like kissing in the dark, lying on the beach staring in each others eyes, to the walking not running, etc. I say, "WAIT!" It's not over. You can still make out in a dark alley or run under a sprinkler. You can lay under the stars and dream; you can splash through puddles. I think we become old when we decide we're too old to do these things.

I'm at a place in my life where I know that the empty nest is just over the horizon. I don't want to be mourning my lost youth thinking that the good old days are all behind me. I want to be able to look back with fondness, but yet still look ahead with expectation.

Maybe I'll go out and make a snow angel now, before I shovel...

Friday, January 9, 2009

A Friday Five

1. Josh Hillis has posted a little blog about the ridiculousness of a crazy spiked hula hoop that is supposedly a new fitness fad. Ouch!

2. And on the topic of fitness fads, I keep seeing advertisements that say, "Flat abs guaranteed! No crunches necessary!" Well, of course I know that crunches aren't the be-all and end-all of abdominal exercises. There is an "abs-travaganza" of other things that you can do. But, please...crunches aren't that bad. There are things far worse than crunches. In fact, I bet I could turn a crunch-hater into someone who would scream for relief, "Just let me do crunches instead!" by just making them do a couple of my favorite ab exercises.

Anyhow - just because an ab workout is advertised as "crunchless" don't be silly enough to think it will be easy. If it does turn out to be easy, I'm 99.9% sure you won't be seeing results. That's because results take E - F - F - O - R - T...effort.

3. Anne Hathaway (The Princess Diaries, etc) will be wearing a ribbon at Obama's inauguration. That ribbon signifies her protest against Rick Warren (Saddleback Church, author of "The Purpose Driven Life") who Obama has chosen as he clergy of choice to give the invocation. Heck, I'd protest Warren, too - but it would be for entirely different reasons. Hathaway finds Warren's views too conservative (laughing, coughing sputtering over here as I type this). She thinks Rick Warren represents (a chuckle here) the religious right. HA. I think evangelicals are far more critical of Warren than the left - because of his watered down gospel, faulty handling of Scripture in "The Purpose Driven Life," etc. (The PDL claims from the get go that "it's not about you, it's about Him" but the more you read the book you find he thinks, yep, it's all about you). Great book recommendation: Decieved on Purpose by Warren Smith.

I actually think he's a great choice for a liberal president to pick. Obama tries to walk a fence between liberalism and conservatism, as does Rick Warren. He's got the ability to be a bit of a bridge. And really, did anyone think with all of the Hollywood liberal posse in town that he was going to pick someone like Franklin Graham or John MacArthur?

4. A read a scary article at Fox News about anti-psychotic Alzheimer's meds and death. While the two drugs the VA psych doc has given my father are not mentioned in the studies, there certainly have given my father trouble. Too much trouble.

5. We're under a winter weather warning and are expecting 6 - 10" of snow tonight. I'm happy it's happening on the weekend and that we have no place we really need to go. I'm hoping we can get bundled up and head out to our favorite sledding hill and actually enjoy this round of the white stuff.


I drove Caren to her appointment today and I am happy to say she doesn't have to get a hard cast. Of course, she's still in the sling and she's not allowed to do anything...but praise God that she doesn't have to have an itchy cast on her arm for weeks!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The grace in disgrace...etc.

We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be. -- C. S. Lewis

The quote above sums up right where the human mind heads when God directs you in an unexpected way. Change is hard. I think most of us cling to the good old status quo simply because of cowardice. We just don't know where God is going with us and if the process is going to hurt or not.

My own personal experience has taught me (and is currently teaching me) that if you don't go the direction God wants you to go that He will find a way to make you go the right way. If it involves using a weak moment or a personal flaw, so be it. And, well...ouch. Chances are that listening and following through at the get-go would still have been painful, but possibly less humiliating.

"FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES, AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES." Hebrews 12:6 Good to know! I believe it was David who said, "It was good for me that I had been afflicted." "Chastisement yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness", especially if you know how to be thankful for it. Because, "All things happen for the good to those who love the Lord."

"Let the righteous strike me; it shall be a kindness. Let him rebuke me; it shall be an excellent oil; let my heart not refuse it." Psalms 141:5

I'm still in the wound-care department of this current self-inflicted injury but I am already catching glimpses of the grace in the disgrace. I feel like Eustace in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader - he was in the form of a dragon because of all the greedy, dragonish thoughts. To become a boy again, he has to allow Aslan to pull away that dragon skin, layer by painful layer. In the end of it, he was fresh and new - transformed.

Here's how the character of Eustace describes it:

"The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I've ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know - if you've ever picked the scab of a sore place. It hurts like the billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away."

A blessing worth mentioning: My husband's awesome support. Not only is he incredibly gorgeous, he a rock. :)


An interesting quote from a theses I read:

"The object of faith is no longer Christ, but our self-esteem; the goal of faith is no longer holiness, but our happiness; and the source of faith is no longer the Scriptures, but our experience. Christian music currently reflects this. We are producing a generation of people that "feel" their God, but do not know their God." Steven John Camp

While Mr. Camp was writing this on the topic of music ministry, it is too often seen within another area of the worship service: the message. People complain if the message is too harsh, if the preacher doesn't have any easy to follow outline, and a number of other things. As a people we've come to want to be entertained - we want the sermon-giver to be likable, personable, to say the things our itchy ears want to be tickled with. Make us laugh. Give us something not too deep, but enough that we can feel like we did our duty in our 45 minutes of pew-warming. The trend says certainly don't make us uncomfortable.

So what happens when the object of our faith is something else? Be it our children's socialization or our own friendships, position, prestige, or perhaps just not wanting to budge from our comfort zone? Nowadays sports is the god of choice in many circles - how many church ministry meetings cancelled or changed because "My kid has football practice on Wednesday night and if he's not there, he can't play."

I'm going to digress a little here - but the moment we start telling our kids that *any secular/recreational activity* trumps a scheduled activity with other believers, young or old, (excluding random, occasional imminent need type things or a once in a blue moon tournament) - then we're giving them the wrong message. If we're doing it ourselves, then woe to us. In our house there was always a rule when the girls played rec league sports and attended dance classes: Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights were reserved for church. Period. If we were told our child couldn't be on a team unless they attended something during one of those times, then tough-luck - no team. Maybe in this God's best is painful, but that instruction and fellowship will have eternal rewards. Basketball or acrobatics won't. Maybe that's the another good thing about homeschooling or being in a small, private Christian school - you aren't subject to as much adult peer pressure to choose sports over church.


A delicious combination: quinoa and natural (no sugar added) apple butter. Delicious!


If you happen upon this posting and are in a praying frame of mind, lift up my dear BFF, Caren. The icy conditions were just plain treacherous yesterday afternoon and she broke her lower arm. It is painful and restricting.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Checking off those resolutions...

The New Year is starting off with a bang. Yesterday was the first day of our 16 week diet/fitness program - I think that my daughter and I are off to a good start. We were definitely sweating!

I resigned from the board of the figure skating club knowing that I do not have enough time to give it the attention it merits.

A decision Pat and I have been wanting to make since October has been made for us, thanks to God and my own faux pas. It is wonderful how we humans can screw up royally and yet the Father uses it for our good. This is one of those situations where I can see right away the blessing in the end result. That's much easier than when it takes longer to have the "Aha!" moment. The sin of me voicing my opinion in the wrong forum has brought about what we delayed by the sin of not listening to what God wanted us to do in a timely manner months ago. I find myself in the midst of mortification feeling a deep sense of relief.

My resolution reading list is awaiting me at the library. All I need to do is go pick up the books.

I also had resolved to spend more time with friends and developing friendships. I'm excited to begin working out with my friend, Caren, in the morning again. I very much missed the times we had together, sweating and shooting the breeze. Plans have also been made with two other friends to get together for coffee and conversation more frequently.

I trust that the Lord will put everything else in order.

An interesting point I'm pondering: Guilt by association. Barack Obama received a great deal of criticism for sitting under the teachings of Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Wright's inflammatory statements haunted Obama's campaign and the connection was expounded upon in the media. Okay, that's a public figure. What about me? If I knowingly choose to sit under preaching from a public pulpit that is irreverent and disrespectful, making light of such an important part of my faith (as in the Christ, the incarnate Deity)...then am I guilty by that association? If I continued under it, wouldn't I be as guilty as Obama has been portrayed? How do we know that Obama never spoke privately to Rev. Wright to express his discouragement or dismay? Perhaps he did - but the world wanted a public denial or nothing. I"m prayerfully mulling over my own actions and inaction over the past few months. I know my guilt as far as out of place vocalization, but what about my guilt by association and my failure to speak out where/when it mattered?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

2009, already?

"Already" said very tongue in cheek as I've been writing "2009" on things for ages and had to convince myself by looking at everyone else's calendars, etc, that it is not now going to be 2010. I don't know when I fast-forwarded the year...but I'm glad I didn't lose 2008 somewhere along the way.

This is the time of year for goals and resolutions. I wasn't going to make any - except for my friend, Becky's, which is "to treat myself better this year." I like that one, it can encompass an awful lot...but without the pressure of specifics. Suddenly, however, the whole resolution/goal thing started spiraling out of control and I'm consumed with the adrenalin-rush of planning.

To start with, there is the figure competitor challenge program that I designed for my daughter and I to complete in 16 weeks. It's going to be tough, but I'm ready for the challenge. It makes it so much easier to have her doing it with me - that support and accountability is priceless. We start on Monday and will complete the program on April 26, 2009. The reward? Besides the obvious, I'm going to get us each an awesome Otomix workout outfit. During this time she should be studying up for her personal trainer certification - I received mine last summer. When she gets her certification and we both get our first aid/CPR cards updated, we'll be launching our personal training business together.

I also have been developing some resolve to tighten our budget. Oh heck, we don't even follow a "budget" per se - at least not on paper. But this time, for the first in our 25 year marriage, we're going to attempt tracking all of our expenses and following a real, honest-to-goodness budget plan. The spreadsheet is ready (free at

As part of this battening-down-the-hatches financially resolution, I've reserved all three volumes of The Tightwad Gazette and two books by Christian finance guru, Larry Burkett. In honor of tightening the budget, I resisted the urge to order them on Amazon.

And now in the arena of personal development, I'm thinking of joining Project Wonder Woman, which I read about on Maggie Wang's blog. I have reserved the book "You Can Do It! The Merit Badge Handbook for Grown Up Girls" by Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas. It reminds me a bit of trying to be an "accomplished woman" as discussed by Mr. Darcy and Caroline Bingley in "Pride and Prejudice." It's a book about pursuing your dreams, not putting them on the shelf, while you're balancing wife-dom, parenthood, home and career. Sadly, the author died aboard United Flight 93 on 9/11. Somehow working for badges, virtually or not, is just the sort of inspiration I need to finally do some of the things I've thought growing a garden, for instance. And who knows? If I manage to get our budget under control and through thriftiness save some extra money, I might be able to try the ones that aren't free or next-to-nothing!

As for spiritual development, once again I will be following Discipleship Journal's excellent
Bible Reading Plan. I try to go through it every couple of years. It is the best, easiest to follow plan that I have ever used. You read from four portions of the Bible each day, 25 days of the month (giving you days off, days to catch up if you missed a day, etc). Reading from different areas helps me not to feel bogged down, like in Leviticus.

I am also resolving to finish working my way through the Bible study for "
Lies Women Believe." I started it months ago and then life just snow-balled, leaving it collecting dust.

Dust...that's another area where I have goals for 2009. I have got to do some purging. Of course, I have to have cooperation for that and Pat isn't too keen on getting rid of anything. However, things will need to be sorted through and cleared out, some way, some how. I'd like to lean a teensy bit toward "voluntary simplicity." A teensy bit - I don't know how far I could really go that way. I like gadgets, books and such too much to do away with semi-necessities.

I'm sure there are other fledging goals waiting to take flight, but those are enough for now. I'm enjoying the spirit of it all - I love the plan stage as much as I love the attack phase. Within the next few days, a stack of books will be awaiting me at the library and I'll jump into this all gung ho. Until then, however, I can start on the "treat myself better" resolve.
A way to be nice to myself, I decided, is to cut out some of the excess busy-ness, starting with the skate club board position.