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Living Free When UnFree

Quoting wholecloth from Prof Camille:

Philip Yancey describes my European cousins demonstrating grace in a godless culture–dancing a kind of graceful and irresistible polka amid the ungraceful, goose-stepping soldiers. What would happen if we Christians extended our hand to (instead of waving our fist at) the lost and dying world? What would happen if we stopped viewing ourselves as pilgrims just passing through and started acting as God’s children relishing and sharing His gifts?

For many years dissidents in Eastern Europe met in secret, used code words, avoided public telephones, and published pseudonymous essays in underground papers. In the mid-1970s, however, these dissidents began to realize that their double lives had cost them dearly. By working in secret, always with a nervous glance over the shoulder, they had succumbed to fear, the goal of their Communist opponents all along. They made a conscious decision to change tactics. “We will act as if we are free, at all costs,” Polish and Czech dissidents decided. They began holding public meetings, often in church buildings, despite the presence of known informers. They signed articles, sometimes adding an address and phone number, and distributed newspapers openly on the street corners.

In effect, the dissidents started acting in the way they thought society should act. If you want freedom of speech, speak freely. If you love the truth, tell the truth. The authorities did not know how to respond. Sometimes they cracked down — nearly all the dissidents spent time in prison — and sometimes they watched with a frustration bordering on rage. Meanwhile the dissidents’ brazen tactics made it far easier for them to connect with one another and the West, and a kind of ‘freedom archipelago‘ took shape, a bright counterpart to the darkling “Gulag archipelago.”

Remarkably, we have lived to see these dissidents triumph. An alternative kingdom of ragged subjects, of prisoners, poets, and priests, who conveyed their words in the scrawl of hand-copied samizdat, toppled what seemed an impregnable fortress. In each nation the church operated as a counterforce, sometimes quietly and sometimes loudly insisting on a truth that transcended, and often contradicted, official propaganda. In Poland the Catholics marched past government buildings shouting, “We forgive you!” In East Germany, Christians lit candles prayed, and marched in the streets until one night the Berlin Wall collapsed like a rotten dam.

Early on, Stalin built a village in Poland called Nowa Huta, or “New Town,” to demonstrate the promise of communism. He could not change the entire country at once, he said, but he could construct one new town with a shiny steel factory, spacious apartments, plentiful parks, and broad streets as a token of what would follow. Later, Nowa Huta became one of the hotbeds of Solidarity, demonstrating instead the failure of communism to make just one town work.

What if Christians used that same approach in secular society and succeeded? “In the world the Christians are a colony of the true home,” said Bonhoeffer. Perhaps Christians should work harder toward establishing colonies of the kingdom that point to our true home. All too often the church holds up a mirror reflecting back the society around it, rather than a window revealing a different way.


November 28, 2006  |  Comments (2)  |  TrackBack (0)  |  Permalink



Soul and Sea

"I must live a little each day, greet the sun as it rises and revel in its setting, swim naked, sip cofee and wine by the shore, generate new ideas, admire myself, talk to animals, mediated, laugh, risk adventures. I must try to be soft, not hard; fluid not rigid; tender, not cold; find rather than seek. I have been embraced by the sea, tested by its elements, emptied of anxiety, cleansed with fresh thought. IN the process, I have recovered myself."

--Joan Anderson, A Year by the Sea


November 25, 2006  |  Comments (0)  |  TrackBack (0)  |  Permalink



Callooh! Callay!

My sister and her kidlets are flying in tonight. They'll be landing at the airport in just two hours. . . Hubby is picking them up. *grin* My folks drive in on Wednesday. I'm really super-excited. My inlaws are hosting all of us for Thanksgiving dinner.

Annnnnd. . . two boy-birthdays are this weekend, and rumors of bikes and Sea World are floating around.


November 20, 2006  |  Comments (6)  |  TrackBack (0)  |  Permalink



Boys’ Step-By-Step Guide To Cleaning the House

In the past six months or so, we've gone from barely-keeping-up to staying-on-top of the daily messes and clutter. One of the biggest changes is how the boys are now at an age at which their daily activities don't result in a net-mess.

One of the tools we use is the below outline I wrote up and posted on the fridge. We don't do all of these every day, but it is the guide we follow when we do a weekly housecleaning or before we have guests. This list is primarily for the boys to do the basic cleaning, and I follow up taking care of details and things that I see that are overlooked by those who are only 4 feet high.

While the list looks long, we tackle each section at a time. Four boys can do a numbered section in less than 10 minutes when they are working together.

Boys’ Step-By-Step Guide

To Cleaning the House

1. Throw Away All Trash!

a. Empty trash cans in both bathrooms, kids’ bedroom, and kitchen.

b. Gather any and all trash from the floor—bedrooms, public areas, bathrooms, under furniture, in corners.

c. Take trash out to bins in garage—make sure trash gets put in the bin and the lid closed!

d. Sort the recycling in the garage.

2. Gather All Clothes!

a. Pick up all clothes and shoes from the floor—check bedrooms, public areas, bathrooms, and closets. Fold and put away clean ones.

b. Put dirty ones in the hamper (not on the laundry room floor!)

c. Check in and on the dryer. If you see your clothes, fold them and put them away!

d. Are all shoes put away neatly in the closet? Play shoes in one bin, church shoes in the other bin.

3. Books!

a. Gather all books from the floor, under beds and in bathrooms.

b. Mommy/Daddy books put on top of living room bookshelf.

c. Library books put in bin by the door.

d. School books go on the school shelf. Set them up neatly!

e. Kids’ books go on kids’ shelf or under-bed shelves. Set them neatly—like Daddy’s bookshelves.

4. Clean the Kitchen

a. Gather any food, plates, or utensils from anywhere they are in the house.

b. Empty dishwasher. If something still isn’t clean, use the scrub brush!

c. Load dishwasher.

d. If anything is on the counter tops, put it away where it belongs!

e. Squirt counter tops, stove top, and cupboards with vinegar. Wipe down!

f. Sweep kitchen and kitchen office.

5. Wash the walls.

a. Use a slightly damp, clean cloth to wipe walls. Look for fingerprints! Look for scuffs from toys!

b. Pay extra attention to doors and the walls around the doors.

c. Mommy or Daddy will use Magic Eraser.

6. Clean the bathroom.

a. Put away, where they belong, any items that don’t belong in the bathroom.

b. Put away in the cupboard any items that DO belong in the bathroom.

c. Use some dishwashing soap—just a little squirt—to fill the tub with bubble water. Let it soak.

d. Wipe down all surfaces. Use either a cleaning cloth that is wet and wrung out from the soapy water in the tub, or use Clorox wipes. Wipe down counter, cupboards, door, shower walls, and floor.

e. Wipe down toilet with Clorox wipe. Start with the cleanest areas, move to the dirtier areas. Be sure to wipe floor around the base of the toilet!

7. Clean the Floors!

a. Sweep the public areas.

b. Let Daddy or Mommy mop.

c. Inspect for vacuuming—office and bedrooms.

d. Vacuum. Be careful of money, legos, and rubber bands.

e. Put small attachment on and vacuum next to wall and hard to reach areas.

8. Clean Bedroom

a. Make beds—sheets on properly, blankets spread nicely, pillows on.

b. All trash, clothes, and books should already be picked up from earlier work. Double check.

c. Clean closet. Any toys in closet put away. Shoes organized.

d. Clear out everything under beds, under shelves. Put away properly.

e. Straighten shelves. Books neat!

f. Clean out your own dresser special-drawers.

g. Inspect for vacuuming.

9. Have Daddy or Mommy Check!


November 18, 2006  |  Comments (7)  |  TrackBack (0)  |  Permalink



Ezzo.Info Updated

The long-established, carefully documented website about the parenting teachings of author Gary Ezzo has been updated and reorganized.

I've been browsing through the site this evening and really like how easy it is to find key information.

Check out these sections:
For Pastors
Quick Start Page
Concerns About Divisiveness
Voices of Experience (Updated!)

If you are a parent who is using Babywise or other materials by Gary Ezzo and wonders "what's all the fuss about," I encourage you to take some time and surf around Ezzo.Info.

Consider the stories of other parents, like you, who liked and used Ezzo's materials and then discarded them. Take note of the documentation and references. And remember that more than any "parenting philosophy" out there, children grow up well when surrounded by parents' love and God's grace.


November 18, 2006  |  Comments (13)  |  TrackBack (0)  |  Permalink



Cooking Coq Au Vin and Christmas

Had a nice evening making Coq au Vin, drinking shiraz (used instead of burgandy), wearing my WIC Have You Hugged A Presbyterian Today? apron and listening to Harry Connick, Jr's, Christmas album. Usually I am a strict constructionist when it comes to Christmas--doesn't start until Advent and/or after Thanksgiving. But I had this cd from the library, and after thinking about Roger Whittaker yesterday, well. . .

I'm making Coq au Vin for a birthday potluck tomorrow. I bought a crock pot today for this very reason. I have wanted one like the one my Mom bought me before we moved to Ukraine. Unfortunately, even with the transformer, it wasn't happy with the electrical current there. Still, it had a removeable pot and all-glass lid, and so could be used in the oven and on the stovetop. So, that's what I wanted if I bought another crock pot. Do you know how hard that is to find?

Washing dishes by candelight is the best way to do it.

My bil is here, helping Hubby repair our recalcitrant laptop.

T8 is begging to read LOTR. Hubby wants him to wait until he's older, not because it is "too much" but because he wants him to really be able to appreciate it So, we're encouraging him to read The Hobbit first to get used to J.R.R. Tolkein's style.


November 12, 2006  |  Comments (9)  |  TrackBack (0)  |  Permalink



Amazon Christmas Order Excitement!

I ordered my absolute most favorite Christmas album on cd last year through Amazon. I listened to this cassette over and over and over again when I was younger, and not just at Christmas.

My order last November was delayed because Amazon didn't have it in stock and couldn't get it in stock. Every few weeks, I'd get an e-mail, "Do you still want us to try to fulfill the order?" I kept selecting yes so it's been in my "order history" for ages.

(The year before I was careless in ordering, and inadvertantly bought the wrong album, right artist. Since we were in Ukraine, I didn't bother trying to trade it for the right one.)

Today I received and e-mail--it's been shipped! Woohoo! I'll be all set for Christmas this year! It's only taken three Christmases.


November 11, 2006  |  Comments (7)  |  TrackBack (0)  |  Permalink



Teleological Psychology

I've been listening to a series of lectures through UC/Berkley (hi, Dan!) on Human Emotion, and tonight's lecture had some interesting tidbits about oxytocin and monogamy.

Very interesting stuff.

I'm in awe at how God has designed us, the complexities, the subtleties. Learning more about both body and soul feels like putting together a puzzle, one which I know I'll never have all the pieces. The "picture" gets bigger and clearer, but I still know I'm only getting a glimpse of His amazing design.

What a glimse, too? Read this about Mommies, Babies and Attachment.


November 08, 2006  |  Comments (6)  |  TrackBack (0)  |  Permalink



Kyiv Memories: From The Window

R Looking Out the Window

R7 (when he had just turned 6) is standing on the radiator and looking out of the boys' bedroom window in Kyiv. That flat was on the 15th floor, and provided a great view of the construction of the yellow/triangular-roofed building.

Out the Window

(Kyiv, March 2005)


November 08, 2006  |  Comments (2)  |  TrackBack (0)  |  Permalink



Music / Listening and Watching

Singer/songwriter Pat Gahn has a new website, which y'all just have to visit. You can listen to bits of his americana/folk/blues online, but you still have to buy his album via snail mail. And if you are in the southwest, try to catch a show live.

While it's easier to catch Chris Thile live, he's not touring in Florida anytime soon so I've been watching/listening via YouTube. (This isn't for the faint-of-connection-speed.)

Next in my to-buy queue is O How the Mighty Have Fallen from my sentimental, long-beloved band, the Choir.


November 06, 2006  |  Comments (2)  |  TrackBack (0)  |  Permalink



Hiating or Not?

So I was asked. . .

Does this mean you're back...??? I was so sad to see that you were going on hiatus (even though I understand). I'll keep peeking in, just in case.

Ummmm. . . yes and no. Sorta. Still kinda on hiatus, especially from mega-online involvement. But a little blog posting--pics and odd thoughts and the like--well, this is just the best outlet for that. *grin*

This is our vacation week, and we have some wonderful New Orleans photos. (But Hubby has them on the laptop, so that will have to wait. . .) And I anticipate posting other bits and pieces this week, too.


November 05, 2006  |  Comments (5)  |  TrackBack (0)  |  Permalink



do, doing, done

What have you done?

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside outside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said “I love you” and meant it
09. Hugged a tree
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game (and survived the crush afterwards)

16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby’s diaper

21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity

25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can

32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk.
42. Had amazing friends
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched wild whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe.
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach

50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your CDs
57. Pretended to be a superhero
58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Played touch football
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater

66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an “expert”
83. Got flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark
88. Kissed on the first date
89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently
95. Performed in Rocky Horror
96. Raiseding children
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Touched a stingray
110. Broken someone’s heart
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse
119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about

130. Gone back to school
131. Parasailed
132. Touched a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad - and the Odyssey
135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read

136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language

139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head
149. Caused a car accident
150. Saved someone’s life

(Via Amy and Thicket Dweller)


November 01, 2006  |  Comments (6)  |  TrackBack (0)  |  Permalink



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