Saturday, October 30, 2010

1,2,3 Gifts That Count

The holiday season is just beginning but I am well aware there are organized individuals already making their Christmas gift lists. Some have already been purchasing and wrapping.

Missionary friends made a poignant, but gentle reminder, that we, who live here in the land of plenty have plenty to give. Many reputable organizations make giving gifts to our loved ones a double value by also benefiting others. Here are four of mine; list your favorite organization in the comments and I’ll draw one name on Friday and send a $5 bill just for taking the time to share.  Be sure to leave contact information.

World Crafts  Put on your holiday gift list items from groups that sell goods like World Crafts.

Heifer International  Help purchase farm animals through Heifer International.

Samaritan’s Purse Perhaps you would rather they give your gift in the form of a shoebox to a child through Samaritan’s Purse. 

Compassion Child  Provide food and education through Compassion Child.

Christmas is a great opportunity to teach children, and adults, how they can actually provide for other’s physical needs. Be well informed, reputable organizations make their financials available; don’t throw your seeds into the weeds; but don’t forget to cast them either as the result is the same.

Matthew 5:14-16 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." NIV

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pascal & Me

My husband is a Church History professor and keeps a finger on the pulse of religion and culture in the media. Recently he showed me an op/ed piece from USA Today titled Religion and Science Aren’t Friends.

The opinion in this piece is a common one. Believers cannot prove religious "truth" and science is a multicultural search for truth. The piece adds much more about the differences between science and religion and where believers have it wrong. This is an opinion and the writer is welcome to it. For the cyber surfers and my small band of subscribers and followers, this is my opinion.

This discussion is a short one when the resources are not accepted by both parties. The Bible is the believer’s source, the word of truth. Being classified as a believer it is “believed” that the Bible is true. All roads lead back to the Bible, what it contains is the truth therefore it is the solid rock on which the believer stands. If the Bible is not an accepted resource by the opposing debater then the discussion stops here. No agreement will be reached.

This discussion not only stems from different resources but from different mental approaches. The op/ed writer wants to approach from logic and many believers approach from feelings. From the logical angle I defer to Pascal and his wager. The gamble is this: (excerpts from Pensées, part III, note 233):

1. "God is, or He is not"
2. A game is being played... where heads or tails will turn up.
3. According to reason, you can defend neither of the propositions.
4. You must wager. It is not optional.
5. Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that god is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain eternal life; if you lose, you lose nothing.
6. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is. (...) There is only a happy life to gain, and at the end, nothing to lose.

From the feeling approach, which science still struggles to test and evaluate, quantify and qualify, belief comes in stages. There is an initial choice to believe in God, even when all else is in opposition. This is a conscious choice of will to suspend what we see and have faith in what is unseen. Within this “chosen belief” the miraculous happens, (another stumbling block to scientific exploration). God reveals himself to the believer, and from my own experience, the more I seek Him through prayer, study and obedience to His commands (found in the Bible) He is revealed more clearly and substantially until the epiphany, a moment when the choice is no longer a suspension of things seen but a certainty of that which is unseen.

Those who have experienced this know of which I speak. Those who have chosen to believe are seeking that day. Those who don’t understand; choose not to understand; may never understand, no agreement will be reached.

They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. John 16:3 (NIV)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Same Music: Different Age

The Friday Summer Concert Series that the Today show runs is always interesting. I’ve never been a music fan, listening to the Top 40 or favorites of friends and family.

I do know the importance of music in culture, the important role it can play in a person’s life and the effect it can have on individuals and crowds. The Today show offers a quick glimpse of what is currently popular and what the culture is thinking, or singing, about.

On the occasional Friday the lyrics from the #1 song of the highlighted artist filters through my preparations for the day. Generally, it is something in the lyrics that catches my attention and sends me into a myriad of thoughts on the psychology of music. It happened on a recent Friday and this is what I thought:

Katy Perry, “I Kissed the Girl”

I kissed a girl and I liked it/the taste of her cherry chap stick
I kissed a girl just to try it/I hope my boyfriend don’t mind it
It felt so wrong, it felt so right, don’t mean I’m in love tonight
I kissed a girl and I liked it, I liked it

I was initially surprised at such lyrics but a little thought and lyrics from the past flooded my memories.

1990, The Divinyls:
“I Touch Myself.”
The title suffices and it caused some controversy but made it to #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Reaching back to 1972 there was plenty to raise an eyebrow about.
Billy Paul, “Me and Mrs. Jones”
Me and Mrs. Jones, we got a thing going on
We both know that it's wrong
But it's much too strong to let it cool down now

Later, I was driving and put in the soundtrack to “The Music Man,” 1962, and paid close attention to the lyrics of “The Sadder-But-Wiser Girl for Me”
I flinch, I shy, when the lass with the delicate air goes by
I smile, I grin, when the gal with a touch of sin walks in.
I hope, and I pray, for a Hester to win just one more "A"
The sadder-but-wiser girl's the girl for me.
The sadder-but-wiser girl for me

Which took me back to 1950’s Paul Brown and “Butcher Pete”
(This is featured in the 2008 Fallout 3 soundtrack, for those thinking, “Where have I heard that?”)
Butcher Pete's got a long sharp knife
He starts choppin' and don't know when to stop
All you fellows gotta watch your wife
'Cause Pete don't care who's meat he chops

Clearly, a central topic runs through our culture and spans the ages in music. Each generation has their own way of putting the idea into words and with different levels of shock value. The end assessment is that every generation has their songs on this topic and they can be shocking at any time to anyone.  The trend will continue with future generations adding their music to this mix, using their own vernacular and shocking past and present alike.

Friday, October 8, 2010

College On My Mind

In an effort to post regularly I've discussed pertinent Biblical lessons and our efforts at weight loss and good eating.  What other things are on my mind? Today it is the college application process.

We are in the midst of college applications and early decision dates. Most applications ask for the same information in a slightly different format. The efficiency of the ‘world wide web’ has produced the concept of the common application. This is common to a select group which does not include our little group of three, ergo, I’m sharing our numerical statistics (3 times) + the scarce state of our collegiate financial situation (3 times) + the supplements each institution requires because they are not common.

While I am busy digging out the past, present and future our senior is preparing, studying and testing for the separate test requirements. His anxiety level ebbs and flows with each passing event. Tomorrow concludes this process and I’m thinking a “Whew, It’s Done” party is in order, a celebratory event before the vigil for acceptance letters begin.

This process has turned into an emotional roller coaster because of our anticipation of acceptance into a major research university that will require several essential pieces fall into place, that, and an early seasonal head cold we’ve been passing around.

My one advantage; I’m an emotional NON-eater. Goal weight maintenance is, momentarily, a non-issue.

What is on your mind today?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Zero Never Tasted So Good

Apparently my mind is on food lately but a good discovery needs to be shared. Weight Watchers has a Zero Point Soup that is a meal maker on several fronts.

Once we cleaned our digestive systems of pre-processed foods, the abundant flavor found in fresh fruits and vegetables was really rather astounding. We started with the Zero Point soup as filler at meal time and in-between. It wasn’t long before we found that using this soup as a base made many other calorie friendly meals.

Puree some soup in a blender to use as the base for spaghetti sauce, chili macaroni, or any recipe that you would use tomato juice. We made delicious bisque by adding ½ cup half and half, Cajun seasoning and salad shrimp to a base of pureed Zero Point Soup.

Zero Point Soup has become a staple in our refrigerator. If you are not a vegetable fan be courageous and try this as a base to other meals, it’s good for your taste buds, your waist, and your health.