Friday, May 29, 2009

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


This picture says a lot about our life in the month of May.

The lilac is leafed out, but the rose-of-sharons are just starting to bud.

Our pool is open (my goal in life is to have blue water outside my window as much as possible), but our neighbor's pool is not.

Our pool ladder has not yet been installed. Obviously, this is because it is too cold to get in the water.

Our neighbor has constructed a row of large wooden planters.

We need to screw down a loose board on our deck.

Laura and DJ are trying to soak up some rays. However, it is so cold that DJ is wearing long jeans and Laura is wearing a down vest.

Laura is studying for an AP exam. She is done with those now!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Prom pictures if you persevere to the end...

Today was the last Bible study class for the season. We ate a buffet breakfast together and exchanged gifts (they are far too generous to me), and I answered questions (or at least, I tried) and reviewed the major truths we learned this year.

Life is a smorgasboard of events: good ones, bad ones, happy ones, embarrassing ones, exciting ones, tear-jerking ones...all rolled up into one life that God planned for each of us, according to our needs, our idiosyncrasies, our unique paths. I go to Bible study and bask in the love of the Lord. I come home and face a dirty house and a weedy garden, good news about grades, bad news about school discipline, and a tasty homemade meal of Mexican chicken. These are the pieces of life that fit together to make, as one blogger says, "a quilt of grace."

There were really only two questions they had at the end of our study on 1 and 2 Peter. One was about the New Heavens and the New Earth (2 Peter 3:10-13). I am afraid I may have been lacking in compassion about that, because I don't really understand the question. I think it has to do with trying to look at this from a linear time perspective, which you can't do, but it is hard to imagine being outside of time, and so we become troubled about what happens to people who die before the second coming, wondering whether they are in heaven or not. Because if heaven is really a New Heaven and a New Earth, then does it exist yet, or doesn't it? To which I just want to say, "It doesn't matter... it's going to be great, however God works it all out."

I tried to explain that once we are free from our present physical bodies, I believe that we all arrive at The Day of the Lord at the same time, essentially. So people who have died are not in the ground waiting to go to heaven; they are already there, in their new bodies (2 Corinthians 5:2-5). But we are there, too: their present and our future are miraculously combined. I tried to say, "We all leave at different times, but God works it out so we all arrive at once." Which I don't think I explained very well at all, but it was hard for me to get deeply into it, because the exact logistics are not all that important to me. We will be with God in heaven for all eternity. That's what the Bible teaches clearly. The rest is mainly conjecture and, I think, not particularly important.

The other question was about eternal security (2 Peter 3:17--don't fall from your secure position). Augh. Nothing easy!

I, personally, think that much teaching on eternal security lulls many unsaved people into a false sense of security, a false assurance that something is settled and fine when it really isn't at all. This is one of my soapboxes.

At the same time, I do think that those who are foreknown, predestined, called by God (1 Peter 1:1-2, Ephesians 1:5,11), whose names are written in the book of life (Revelation 13:8), whom Jesus called His own (John 17) are in no danger of being lost. That's what Jesus was talking about when He said, "...He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out. When He has brought out all His own, He goes ahead of them, and His sheep follow Him because they know His voice." (John 10:3b-4) This is what eternal security is: to be called by the Lord and to follow Him, the one who is your good shepherd. The good shepherd does not lose sheep! But... the sheep follow Him. This is significant.

Matthew 7:21-23 clearly explains that there are people who think they belong to the Lord and who actually do not. I don't know if there is a huge difference in whether we worry about the question, "Am I at risk of losing my salvation?" or whether the question that plagues us is, "Am I really, truly, genuinely saved?" Either way is basically the same to us (and scary), except for one "slight" difference: The second question trusts in the sovereignty of God more; it depends on Him and not on us, what He has done, not on what we are able to continue to do. It looks to Him for assurance and to His Spirit to work in us, rather than depending on deeds we perform in our own strength. And that is definitely a preferable place to be!

How do I know I am saved? According to 1 and 2 Peter, I know I am saved when I suffer grief in trials and emerge refined. I know I am saved when I love Jesus without seeing Him. I know I am saved when I set aside my former evil desires in order to become holy as He is holy. I know I am saved when I believe with confidence and thanksgiving that God is God, Jesus is His own incarnate Son who died for my sins, and God raised Jesus from the dead so I can share in His glory. I know I am saved when He fills me with love for other believers. I know I am saved when I discover a spiritual gift that God has given me, and I have the privilege of using it to edify the church. I know I am saved when I discover evidence that God is growing me in faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverence, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love. I know I am saved when I look forward to the day when Jesus returns to take me to heaven to be with Him forever.

If, instead, a person lives a life of craving sin and seeks to see how many questionable adventures he can get by with and still make it into heaven, his heart probably does not belong to God. Just saying. Those who belong to God love God.

That is eternal security. 2 Peter 3:17 says, " on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position." But Jude 24 says, "To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy--" My point is that although we need to be on guard (particularly against false teaching), it is ultimately Jesus who keeps us from falling, purifies us, and presents us faultless before the Father. And we can trust Him.

So... just a few "simple" questions to deal with today. And they want to do Revelation next fall. I really need to pray about this. It's rather overwhelming.

So... I will take a breather and post some prom pictures of Laura.

Laura and Zach

Laura and Zach

But she is still really Daddy's girl. For sure.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


I don't know why this year seems different, but it has been a glorious spring.

It came early, for one thing. We had gorgeous daffodils followed by sumptuous flowering trees. Then came the tulips, which are just now starting to fade. The colors have been so intense you can almost taste them, unlike our usual gray, rainy springs that make even the brightest yellow blossoms look muddy and dull.

On Monday the girls and I attended Jonathan's track meet. It was the first meet we were able to get to, and he seemed very pleased to see us. I love how Jonathan smiles with his whole face. He is nearly six lanky feet tall now, and when he runs, he looks like he is loping around the track, his arms and legs so much longer than the others that he overtakes them with a seemingly languid effort. The grass was an intense green, the sky an equally bright blue, and the track a vivid reddish orange. It reminded me of when I play with pictures in photoshop and bump up the color saturation. Of course, I had forgotten my camera.

The pool is open, which means that we took the ugly black winter cover off and cleaned the water so it is a sparkling blue. Everything out the windows is happy and leafy, growing and vibrant. This is the best time of year, because later in the summer it will get dry, and there will be more brown. Right now, everything is newly back to life, fresh and juicy with the youth of the season.

Of course, I still blow it. Last night, I stayed up way too late. This morning I awoke late, got up later, and took forever to get in gear. In the end, I did do a little tidying, a little vacuuming, a little shopping and a little laundry, so it was not a wash. But I wish I had gotten going more quickly. I will try to do better tomorrow. There is so much to do if we are going to have a graduation party for David.

Yes, David is graduating. Also, he lost his cell phone, which is a very sad thing. He is pretty sure someone stole it, and I am pretty sure that if this is the case, that same someone also smashed it for fun. What else would you do with a cell phone? David agrees. As I said, it is a sad thing. Especially when you start looking at what it will cost him to replace it.

Shannon is done with college for the year and waiting to hear where she will be doing research this summer. It is nice to have her at home. It is also nice that she is incredibly decent about sharing her car and helping me pick people up in different places.

Tonight Shannon took Laura to the dress shop to pick up her prom dress now that it has been altered. Laura goes to prom on Saturday. I'll post some pictures when it happens...

New leaves, pretty blossoms, track meets, graduation, six-packs of sweet allysum, tests out of the way, prom... This is spring 2009.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A Rant (sorry)

What is the deal with the bottled water industry?

They say there's something in the plastic (PCBs?) that breaks down and causes cancer, particularly breast cancer. Hence, you should never, NEVER refill a water bottle with tap water.

This smacks of marketing and sounds suspiciously like a copywriter's idea for compelling people to continue to buy case after case of bottled water, even though each case yields 12-32 bottles and people nearly always have a copious supply of clean tap water in their homes.

My first question, obviously, was, "If the plastic causes cancer when the bottle is refilled, why doesn't it cause cancer in the original use?" My son answered by explaining to me, "It's like a tuna fish know, how after you open it, if you leave the tuna in the can in the refrigerator, the inside of the can oxidizes and gets black and gross. After you break the original seal on the water bottle, the decomposition process begins." Maybe this is true. Maybe not.

So, plastic oxidizes? No, I know I'm being overly simplistic here, but assuming that they are telling the truth, and the bottles begin to give off carcinogenic substances after the original airlock is broken...

Would this not indicate a terrible problem in our landfills, which contain thousands upon thousands of these very bottles, used and discarded because they are unsafe to be used twice? So they sit in the landfills, decomposing into carcinogenic particles, which presumably must seep down into the ground, poisoning the very ground water upon which we all depend with these very same carcinogenic particles that we were trying to avoid by throwing them away...

Also, they say that freezing water in water bottles, even before they have been drunk the first time, also causes the breakdown of PCBs. Excuse me??? Have you ever walked through the frozen department of a supermarket? Have you ever noticed how many frozen products are packaged in plastic? Do we have a problem here, or don't we? I know there are different types of plastic, but shouldn't that indicate that the unsafe varieties would be banned in favor of safe varieties? What is going on here?

It is all about making money, people. When packaging products in plastic nets money to big corporations, it is fine, legal and "safe." When reusing a plastic product promotes a risk to the profits of a large corporation, it suddenly causes cancer.

Which is true? I don't know. I'm not a chemist. My daughter Shannon is, and just ask her about aspartame (a.k.a. nutrasweet). It is poisonous. At warm temperatures (~86 degress farenheit), it breaks down into formaldehyde (a carcinogen) and methanol (which causes neurological damage and blindness). Everybody in chemistry knows this and has known it for many years. The controversy is not over whether this is true, but only over "How much aspartame is enough to be detrimental?" Are you serious? Antifreeze is poisonous. A a local woman was recently convicted for murdering two husbands with it. It tastes good when added to a drink, and the lethal dose is approximately two tablespoons. Does this mean that we could say that if only 1/4 of a teaspoon were added to each of our drinks, it would be fine? Because that amount "is not enough to be detrimental..."?

I'm sure if Shannon ever becomes prominent in her field, Monsanto will find a way to gag her. (Monsanto is bad for the world, and I coud easily find stronger words to use about them than that.)

We are on our own, people, we are on our own. Our government does not protect us; our government and judges have sold out to whomever is the highest bidder, certainly not the common man. We cannot trust the FDA as far as our noses are from our faces. If you want to know what is safe, study it yourself, and if you want to eat food that is safe, you'd better raise it yourself.

And drink out of glass glasses instead of plastic bottles. But if you have to drink out of plastic, don't worry too much, because the hype is probably mostly only due to marketing.