Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Peek-a-boo Menstrosity

Hang up the phone gentlemen! This one's for the ladies and it's all about "menstrosity." That's a word I made up to assemble into one conjunction the concepts of "menstruation" and "monstrosity."

Here I thought I was having a light-by-comparison visit from my Aunt Flow, relishing the fact that this must be my "nice ovary period" and then that bloody bitch had to go and play a game of peek-a-boo.

Just when I thought it was safe to downgrade to Regular grade tampons, the flood returned. Shrewdly, disaster was averted with the use of my EWD System. That's my Early Wetness Detection System. I narrowly avoided the bloody deluge, and ruining a pair of good work pants for that matter, by narrowly extricating myself from a conversation with a verbose township patron.

Thank goodness I'm always prepared with the proper necessities and accoutrements to handle such silly shennanigans on the part of "The Curse." You never known when she'll jam you up and ruin a perfectly good pants suit.

It just goes to show, you can never trust your flow to be anything but faithfully awful and oftentimes unpredictably presumptuous. Your period doesn't care if you're at work or running errands. You could be trying to squeeze in one last romantic moment with your husband, and WAM! Like a relative, come a-visiting...

"Ding Dong! It's your Aunt Flow! I know I'm a day early dear but you see I had the opportunity to catch an early flight, and so...HERE I AM! My usual room dear?"

"Yes thank you."

"Your uterus? That room with the lovely view?"

"That's right. Come on in Aunt Flow! Good to see you? How've you been?"

"Wonderful dear. I hope I'm not interrupting anything important?"

"No. Not at all (grinding teeth). Right this way. Let me show you to your room."

And like any good hostess, you're always always ready for unexpected company.

Semper Paratus ladies. Always Prepared. Always Prepared.

If your flow is fickle, like mine she may choose to play a game of peek-a-boo with you. That's why you always keep your dynamite at the ready. And when I say "dynamite," I mean tampons, oh, and a goodly supply of backup shielding in the form of those winged knights I call "Always pads with wings." Two varieties, regular and overnight when your company is overly demanding.

Why can't you keep stories like this to yourself you say? Hardly. It's too much fun to write about, and you always have the choice of not reading this post.

Just remember ladies, when the curse comes a-calling, have your arsenal at the ready, so you're prepared for that fickle menstrosity and her occasional game of peek-a-boo.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Lost in TV Land

I'm spending a Sunday evening baking my brain in front of the TV and relaxing on the couch. Goodtimes. I love the holidays. Tomorrow, I go back to work for three days and then I can enjoy another 4-day weekend. The only "bad" thing about tomorrow is that I have to weigh in at the gym. I went off the diet over this last week. I don't think I gained anything, but I didn't lose. If I'm lucky, I just maintained my weight loss. I may have gained a couple of pounds because Aunt Flow is here for a visit. That would suck, but it's not the end of the world. I've eaten too many carbs. I love carbs.

Friday, December 26, 2008


It's been a quiet morning in Telford, PA. At least, it has been in the Schoonover household. Jeff and I are enjoying a morning to ourselves. Even the cats are amusing themselves, lingering nearby...watching us with their great golden and green eyes.

Jeff has left a pot of soup to simmer on the stove. I'm catching up on email and hearing news from the rest of our family and friends in the aftermath of another Christmas come and gone.

I was just accosted by a whirlwind of news that manifested itself over the Internet, in person and over the telephone. My Aunt Judy, recovering from a brain aneurysm had a fall and banged her head and is back in the hospital. A friend's grandmother passed away at 93. Another friend was delivered of her baby in the wee hours of the morning. My nephew is celebrating his first birthday this weekend and all is calm and bright. We're not getting company this weekend. Instead we're getting double the company next weekend. It promises to be a bustling holiday season.

On the bright side of that moon...I get another week to recover from my cold before being hostess to the next wave of familial guests. It will be good to see them and to not have to sneeze on them. I'm sure that sentiment is mutual.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Celebrating Christmas

This year, Jeff and I simplified...no tree, no Christmas cards, just gifts, our annual family progressive dinner and some Christmas cookies. I just didn't make time to get to it all this year, and I'm only a little bit sorry, not much, just a little bit.

The Christmas Cantata at church was uneventful this year. No one in the choir fainted and fell off the risers, and almost everyone smiled. I don't think anyone fell asleep during the message and pastor preached a good sermon. I can't tell you what it was about, but I know it was good. It almost certainly had something to do with salvation, because it was one of two times a year he gets to preach directly to the twice-a-year-attending Chreasters, those who attend at Christmas and at Easter.

The poinsettia plants that honor the living and remember the dead decorated the entire front of the sanctuary. The candelabras glowed with holy candle light as we celebrated the birth of our Savior, the baby Jesus, born of a virgin and laid in a feed box, on that holiest of days in December.

We will officially celebrate on the 25th day of the month, commemorating the occasion when Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, the firstborn son of Mary, the mother of God. His birth was foretold by the prophet Isaiah. The Messiah was born so he could die to take away the sins of the world and so believers can live in eternity with God.

Over a thousand years ago, shepherds and wisemen came to worship the Christ child. On Thursday the 25th of December, we will celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ and remember this occasion as the time when God became a man and the Word was made flesh.

My favorite Christmas hymn is "Lo, How a Rose Er Blooming." An oldie but a goodie. I've published the words of this hymn for you below. I wish you a Merry Christmas with your families. May you days be merry and bright, even if your Christmas isn't white.

Lo How a Rose Er Blooming

Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming from tender stem hath sprung!
Of Jesse’s lineage coming, as men of old have sung.
It came, a floweret bright, amid the cold of winter,
When half spent was the night.

Isaiah ’twas foretold it, the Rose I have in mind;
With Mary we behold it, the virgin mother kind.
To show God’s love aright, she bore to men a Savior,
When half spent was the night.

The shepherds heard the story proclaimed by angels bright,
How Christ, the Lord of glory was born on earth this night.
To Bethlehem they sped and in the manger found Him,
As angel heralds said.

This Flower, whose fragrance tender with sweetness fills the air,
Dispels with glorious splendor the darkness everywhere;
True Man, yet very God, from sin and death He saves us,
And lightens every load.

O Savior, Child of Mary, who felt our human woe,
O Savior, King of glory, who dost our weakness know;
Bring us at length we pray, to the bright courts of Heaven,
And to the endless day!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

When it Hits the Fan

Forwarded to me by my friend Jynell... Author Unknown

Are you a carrot, an egg, or a cup of coffee?

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up, She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil; without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, 'Tell me what you see.'

'Carrots, eggs, and coffee,' she replied.

Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg.

Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, 'What does it mean, mother?'

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak.

The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.

The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

'Which are you?' she asked her daughter. 'When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

Ask Yourself:
Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate yourself to another level? How do you handle adversity?

Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

Author Unknown

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Killing Time...on the Internet

What do you do to kill time when you surf the internet?
Here is my list of top 10 things I do to kill time while catching e-waves.

1. Randomly follow links from one web page to the next.

2. Read various blogs and leave various snarky, witty comments.

3. Read various blogs and leave insightful, thoughtful comments.

4. Fill your shopping basket with items you have no intention of purchasing and then indiscriminately close your browser.

5. Facebook until you can't tell people "What are you doing right now" anymore because they already know. You're killing time.

6. Add things to your Amazon wish list.

7. Add things to your Universal wish list.

8. Create superfluous aliases to your multitude of email accounts having no intention of checking any of them... ever.

9. Find images via Google.com to use in future blog posts.

And the 10th thing you can do to kill time on the internet....

Send flowers to people you love...just because.

Now it's your turn. Post a reply with the top three things YOU do to kill time online.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Hind Leg Off a Horse

Do you see that giant lizard attacking the town? That was me at about 4 o'clock this afternoon. You might have seen me on the 5 o'clock news. "Hunger-driven Dieter Terrorizes Telford."

It's day two of my diet. My stomach is still in "the shrinking phase" so I feel hungry when I should feel full. I met with my diet counsellor Lori and told her how day two had been tough. She looked at what I had eaten and told me I should try and spread my protein out- perhaps have some in my afternoon snack, and not go so long without eating.

I have to admit, I went 5 hours without food and it was killer. I'm supposed to be eating 6 small meals a day so going 5 hours without food wasn't helpful. Seriously... drinking that protein shake when I got home literally saved the lives of a group of small children that pass by my house on their way home from afterschool activities. I could have eaten them. Tragedy was narrowly avoided.

I'm looking at different ways of putting my food allowances together tonight in an attempt to avoid the starving wolf hunger I felt today. Lori also said that after a couple more days I shouldn't have such a hard time of things as my stomach becomes accustomed to eating less food...AKA the right amount of food. I lost a little weight between Saturday (when I signed up for the weight loss program) and today (my first counseling session with Lori since sign-up day) and we're going to make it a regular appt. I'll see her every Monday at 5:30 Lord willing and the crick don't rise.

My friend Rachy Rach signed up two to three weeks before me and she has already lost some poundage. I call her Godzilla on the weight bench. This chick is putting me to weight lifting shame. I love it. She's a beast. I tell her so and she laughs. I have plans to order her a t-shirt. Oh yeah. Godzilla.

Well, back to planning. Ciao!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Put Up Your Dukes and Fight Like a Woman in a Weightloss Program

I am so going out on a limb here...

I've decided to not only join a gym again, but to participate in their weight management program. I am officially learning new eating habits and I find this experience, challenging... Yoda might say, "A Cake-walk it is not."

No chocolate. No sugar. No sitting on my butt and eating for convenience. Now I have to fight...for my right....to loooooooooose weiiiiiight.

I want to look and feel good again. I want to have energy and I want to have confidence in my appearance. Right now, I feel like a lumpy frump with a pony tail. One week at a time baby. One week at a time. I'm putting up my dukes for the fight of my life.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Is Your "Hut" On Fire?

The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him.

Every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming.

Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect him from the elements, and to store his few possessions.

One day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, with smoke rolling up to the sky. He felt the worst had happened, and everything was lost.

He was stunned with disbelief, grief, and anger. He cried out, "God! How could you do this to me?"

Early the next day, he was awakened by the sound of a ship approaching the island! It had come to rescue him!

"How did you know I was here?" asked the weary man of his rescuers.

"We saw your smoke signal," they replied.

The Moral of This Story: It's easy to get discouraged when things are going bad, but we shouldn't lose heart, because God is at work in our lives, even in the midst of our pain and suffering. Remember that the next time your little hut seems to be burning to the ground. It just may be a smoke signal that summons the Grace of God.

Monday, December 8, 2008

It's Up...It's Down...Wait, No! It's Back Up Again!

197.4 lbs. One hundred ninety-seven point four friggin pounds.

Darn it all to Hades in a handbasket...I'm fatter again. Notice I didn't say fat, because, well...that never changed. I just got fatter. Sugar...grease and excessive amounts of fat are the Devil. Darn you lack of self-control! And darn you delicious carbs and holiday cookie trays! Shhhooooot. Now I gotta cut out da crap from my diet.

If it has sugar listed among it's first five ingredients...
If it's after 8 pm at night...
If I have one shred of willpower remaining....

This looks like a job for....

But I can't afford for her to yell at me all day long so I'll settle for Lori at Genesis Fitness (but she doesn't yell, but she likes to reschedule). Which reminds me, I need to reschedule my first appointment for diet counseling.

According to my sister and other skinny friends like her...I must pack a healthy lunch...and one snack, and I can have one sweet a day.

Define "one sweet." Are we talking one, singular Hershey Kiss or a piece of cheesecake? I have to know because GI Joe says dats half the battle.

I need to go and get some serious diet counseling. I have a doctors appt. tomorrow with my new doctor, Dr. O'Driscoll. She gets to tell me how fat I am and she doesn't even know me yet. She'll tell me if my blood pressure is too high, and perhaps be able to give me insight into the mysterious pain in my lower left abdomen. It's not my belt cutting into my gut because I wore loose fitting pajamas and it STILL hurt the other night. It's been with me since April and it comes at random times of the month. That's why I don't think it's a problem of a womanly persuasion if you're getting my womanly double speak for period-related woes. There. I said it out loud. In plain English. Menstrual.

Nurturing Yourself

I've been on hiatus for awhile... I technically still am on hiatus... I wanted to share a list with you that my friend Jen put together on Nurturing Yourself as a woman.

She asked her friends to answer the question "What do you do to nurture yourself?" Then she asssembled the responses into different categories and shared them with the group. Her list follows:

responses from: “What I do to nurture myself is…”

Spiritual Activities:
~Observing the Sabbath: “Simple meals; Working harder during the week to rest on that day; Planning something fun for our family to do together or with friends; Making time to read & share what I’m thinking about or reading; Intentionally NOT making lists, cleaning, worrying, or spending money.”
~Stop & pray during stressful parts of the day
~Bible reading (especially the Psalms)
~Practicing the Presence of God
~Meditating on scripture or other reading
~Going to a conference to be renewed

Touch/Physical Outlets:
~Going to the gym
~Exercise followed by a hot shower
~Manicure/Painting fingernails
~Body treatment (i.e. homemade sugar scrub)
~Warm blanket or electric blanket
~Taking a bubble bath with candles
~Taking a dance class

Relational Outlets:
~Going on date (weekly)
~Time with a close friend or family member
~Going out for a meal or drink with a friend
~“Make-up sex”
~E-mailing friends
~Laughing & having fun
~Playing with children & seeing life from their eyes
~Sharing a hobby with others
~Avoiding draining relationships

Relaxing Activities:
~Reading a book or magazine
~Writing a letter
~Window shopping
~Making cards
~Doing a craft that requires focus
~Creative writing
~One evening a week out by myself
~Planning a party
~Listening to music: worship, classical, jazz…
~Deep breathing
~Drinking a cup of coffee, tea, hot chocolate, chai, or wine
~Flower arranging
~Watching a good movie
~Cooking/eating a favorite food (i.e baking bread)
~Creating something new
~Coloring with the kids
~Doing laundry
~Taking a nap
~Go to bed early (to read)
~Playing the piano
~Being silent
~Working a crossword puzzle, sudoku, word search, etc.
~Getting up before everyone else in the house to have time alone
~Thinking about things for which I am grateful
~Finishing something

Calming Surroundings:
~Being in nature; feeling & listening to the wind and birds, being in the woods, by the water,
~Being in front of the fireplace
~Laying down in a room with dim lighting
~Going to a quiet spot, closing eyes, and calming the mind

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

It's Been Awhile

Now you've got that Britney Spears song going on in your head don't you? The title of this post reminds me of Britney's song Break the Ice because it starts out "It's been awhile..." Now I'm not a huge Brit fan, but she's got some moves so I gotta give her props. She and MJ may have some personal problems, but they have talent. Nuff said...

I recently finished my last MA in Ed. class and I'm just waiting for my grade for the class and the beginning of the Spring semester. I'll be student teaching and doing my practicum to complete my MA and teaching certification in El. Ed. I start practicum sometime during the week of January 12th and student teaching on Thursday the 15th. Good times! Lot's of work. Nearly done...

Now it's time to gear-up for Christmas. It's crazy to think about it, but I think we might skip putting up a tree this year. Is that awful? I'm doing a cookie exchange this weekend at my house, and I only have a handful of friends attending. The only other people that might miss seeing our tree are my husband's family. We have a progressive dinner with them on the 20th and I'll be serving the dessert course. I haven't even done my Christmas cards or completed my Christmas shopping, or seen It's a Wonderful Life. I feel like I am missing the celebration. What I really need to do is sit down and read the Christmas story from the book of Luke and all will be well with my soul.

It's really all about Jesus.

What are you doing to celebrate Christmas this year? Give me a short list if you can.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Fall Comforts

What are yours? Mine are:

1. Curling up on the couch under my favorite fuzzy blankie, with a steaming mug of calorie laden hot coco or coffee, or coco-coffee and...
a. a good book
b. my laptop computer for blogging/emailing,
c. watching a favorite movie.

2. A hot bath and a good book

3. A nap under my "fat girl" comforter. Note: Fat Girl Comforter: a big, heavy down-filled comforter that feels like the weight of a fat girl laying on top of you while you're under the covers. Term coined by my mother, who asked me if I wanted a "Fat Girl" for Christmas. I too, did a double take.

4. A chunk of homemade bread and some extra-sharp cheddar cheese with a bowl of homemade:
a. corn chowder (chicken optional)
b. chicken noodle soup
. beef stew

5. Standing in the woods, in the middle of a trail on an Indian summer day, closing my eyes and listening to the wind in the trees as golden and rouge leaves whisper in the air.

6. Hershey's chocolate bar

"Damn" that Slippery Slope

Oh that slippery slope...
Here we go...

"Supreme Court wrestles with dirty words on TV Words that cannot be said on television are not often uttered at the Supreme Court. That may change Tuesday when the court takes up a dispute over celebrities' uses of profanity on live television. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27532414/from/ET/ "

Congratulations, Consolations, Contemplation

Congratulations to our 44th President to be...Barack Obama and VP Elect Joe Biden. Consolations to Senator John McCain and Governor Sarah Palin.

I'm sitting here trying to come up with something poignant to say about this historic moment. It's tremendous that the color barrier has been overcome in this nation and it is something to be celebrated. However, I do NOT feel that the only reason that someone should choose a candidate should be because of color.

There was some disturbing chit chat around the water cooler this morning as we were discussing the election results. A co-worker's teenager was on the bus yesterday. She voted for Barack Obama because she shares his views on several key issues. On her bus ride, she discovered that some of her classmates were only voting for Obama because of the color of his skin. They didn't care about the issues.

Granted, these were teenagers, not consumed by adult responsibilities, but I couldn't help feeling a little nostalgic, and then somewhat annoyed to think that they only cared about voting for a black candidate.

I think people sell themselves short in the political process if they are only interested in voting for someone because of his or her race and I know that there are adults that did that during this election. We need to take stock of what a candidate stands for and then measure his or her values against our own and only then decide how to cast our vote. Use your brain children! Argh! It's not ONLY a popularity contest (thank you for electoral votes Founding Fathers).

It will be interesting to see in what direction President Elect Obama will take our country: economically, morally and politically. I want to see what he can do, and hear about how he hopes to accomplish it without adding to our national debt.

So I say, "Welcome Mr. Obama!" I look forward to the "Change" you will bring to our country. I pray it is for our good as I trust that is your intention.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Couldn't Pass Up Posting This

Forward from a friend...

"Today on my way to lunch I passed a homeless guy with a sign that read 'Vote Obama, I need the money.' I laughed.

"Once in the restaurant my server had on a 'Obama 08' tie, again I laughed as he had given away his political preference--just imagine the coincidence.

"When the bill came I decided not to tip the server and explained to him that I was exploring the Obama redistribution of wealth concept. He stood there in disbelief while I told him that I was going to redistribute his tip to someone who I deemed more in need--the homeless guy outside.

"The server angrily stormed from my sight. I went outside, gave the homeless guy $10 and told him to thank the server inside as I've decided he could use the money more. The homeless guy was grateful.

"At the end of my rather unscientific redistribution experiment I realized the homeless guy was grateful for the money he did not earn, but the waiter was pretty angry that I gave away the money he did earn even though the actual recipient deserved money more. I guess redistribution of wealth is an easier thing to swallow in concept than in practical application...OR IS IT.........REDISTRIBUTION OF SOMEONE ELSE'S WEALTH IS A GREAT IDEA..............or is it just a fools game !!"

I'm not so sure he deserved it more. He may have needed it more.

The Election, Drawing Near the End of the Semester, and Other Thoughts

Election Day, November 4, 2008. Rise and shine campers, it's Voting Day. Have you done your civic duty and voted in this election?

Let's talk about your voting experience. What was it like? I'm planning on voting, but I'm not sure whether or not I will try and brave the crowds before or after work. Probably before.... though that means getting up REALLY early.

After all the voting hullabaloo, all I really want to do is bury myself in a cloud of crisp, autumn leaves and look up at the sky and then close my eyes and listen to the sounds around me while I relax in a quiet moment of silent meditation. Sigh. Instead, me and all the rest of working Americans will trudge to our jobs. I'm glad I have a job to go to, it just makes for an extra long day.

There are four more classes left in the fall semester and everyone in my Research Design class will breath a collective sigh of relief when we are done presenting our research projects on Wednesday, December 3rd. What a day of rejoicing that will be! I still don't have my student teaching placement so I'm getting a bit worried. I have this feeling I'm going to get dumped on some poor teacher that doesn't want a student teacher in his/her classroom. I dread not getting a good placement. I really would like a mentor teacher that has a lot to share with me and knowledge to pass on. As a teacher would you gladly take a student teacher into your classroom?

Today is my parents 35th wedding anniversary. Yup. Married to the same person for 35 years! Congrats Mom and Dad! It's quite an accomplishment in this day and age. In the Marriage Enrichment Sunday school class I have been attending with my husband, we've been talking about what we can do to keep the spark/spice in our marriage alive and well. It's pretty sad, but not too many people were interested in sharing any stories about what works for them. Perhaps they didn't have anything to share. It was 9:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning, and everyone looked tired. What do you do in your marriage to keep that spark alive?

Friday, October 31, 2008

Interesting Letter on Obama

The following is an interesting article a friend forwarded to me on Presidential candidate, Barack Obama published in the"Perspectives" column of www.OneNewsNow.com . Any thoughts?

God and Barack Obama
By: Dr. Paul Kengor

Let me begin with what I hope is a credibility enhancer: For daring to write a book on the faith of Hillary Clinton, I was questioned by fellow conservatives, especially for calling Mrs. Clinton a "lifelong, committed Christian." In the final chapter of that book, I included a brief section on the faith of Barack Obama, where, taking him at his word—based on a major June 2006 speech on his faith—I felt confident in reporting, "Obama is a Christian."

I'm not disputing that here. Since then, however, I've taken a careful look at Obama's faith, and there are quite a few things that stand out as historically extremely unusual, and in some cases unprecedented for a potential president. They are worth knowing, especially given the secular media's adoration of the man.

Indeed, journalists are so worshipful of Obama that they are unfazed by his two decades of membership in the church of a ranting, blasphemous preacher who mocked everything from Bill Clinton to America itself—and who married Obama, baptized his children, and whom Obama considers a mentor and the inspiration for the title of his best-selling book. That double standard has struck even the likes of atheist Christopher Hitchens. After eight years of wailing and gnashing of teeth over a Christian Republican president, secular liberals have undergone a Saul-like conversion.

On rare occasions, however, the press has offered constructive analysis of Obama's faith. The most revealing look remains a glowing profile in Newsweek a couple of months ago. The Newsweek offering was remarkably one-sided, even venturing into evangelical phraseology, the shared-language-of-believers style characteristic of Religious Right publications. I counted ten examples of phrases like, "He found Christ," "accept Christ," "Obama went to Jesus."

Nonetheless, even in this unusually un-critical article, much can be mined about Obama's faith. Most salient is this inescapable conclusion: More than any presidential nominee this close to the White House, Barack Obama's faith is a patchwork of divergent beliefs, philosophies, and influences, from what Newsweek called a "Christian-turned-secular mother"—her own views a product of "two lapsed Christian" parents and a Bill Moyers book—to a "Muslim-turned-atheist African father" to a stepfather with a "unique brand of Islam."

As for Obama's personal path, Newsweek noted how Obama, in his younger years, enjoyed, on one hand, Augustine, and then Nietzsche and Graham Greene. Obama hopped and groped his way through Islam, Buddhism, Catholicism, Protestantism, asceticism, and eventually settled at the political church of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

Most interesting is what Newsweek revealed about Obama and his current family: His wife, Michelle, "also didn't go to church regularly as a child." Neither really began regular attendance until they were married. And only then, their choice was Reverend Wright. On that, Newsweek reported approvingly: "The cross under which Obama went to Jesus was at the controversial Trinity United Church of Christ. It was a good fit."

The couple, writes Newsweek, attended "fairly often—two or three times a month." That changed, becoming less frequent, with the birth of their first child. Normally, the arrival of children is the blessed event that drags young couples to church—the Bushes, the Clintons. For the Obamas, however, the hassle of getting the baby out of the house for a packed service was an obstacle. "So," explained Barack, "that would cut back our involvement."

The Obama girls have never attended Sunday school—a definite contrast with most White House children. Even wayward president's kids like Ron Reagan, a proud atheist, was taken to church every Sunday. Obama explains of his daughters' religious education: "I'm a big believer in a faith that is not imposed but taps into what's already there, their curiosity of spirit."

Once Obama ran for the U.S. Senate, he skipped church for months at a time. Now that he publicly parted ways with Reverend Wright, reports Newsweek with a gentle wink, "Obama is a little spiritually rootless again." Newsweek neglected to mention that Obama often appeared in churches in 2007 for strictly political purposes—i.e., to campaign in houses of worship, a practice that launches liberals into fits of screaming rage when done by Republicans.

On the plus side, there are some discernible spiritual practices in Obama's life: family grace at mealtime, daily prayer, Obama "sometimes" reading the Bible in evenings, and inspirational emails zapped to the senator by his "religious outreach team." Yet, even with that nod to something of a religious routine, one senses that Obama is still trying to reconcile, as Newsweek described his early life, "his rational side with his yearning for transcendence."

After demonstrating at length that Obama's belief system is an amalgam, unorthodox, and undisciplined, Newsweek wrapped up with a shot at his detractors: "Some on the right say his particular brand of Christianity is a modern amalgam—unorthodox, undisciplined...."

No, Newsweek, that's what you say.

One can see here another reason the secular left embraces Obama: His entire religious life, including the spiritual development of his family, is relativistic—an ever-probing quest, a realization of no single truth. The left likes this Democrat more than, say, a lifelong Baptist like Bill Clinton, a lifelong Roman Catholic like John Kerry, a lifelong Methodist like Hillary Clinton, a "born-again" southerner like Jimmy Carter. Here's a believer secular liberals can accept: a relativist in the most expansive form.

A President Obama would bring to the office the most unconventional religious portfolio of any president in a long time, arguably the history of the American presidency.

But to get there, the freshman senator hopes to win just enough of those moral-religious "values voters" who twice made the difference for George W. Bush. Can Barack Obama do that?

Can Obama win the 'values voter'?In 2000 and 2004, it was the churchgoing moral-religious "values voters" that made the difference for George W. Bush. Barack Obama hopes to peel off just enough of those voters. What are his chances? From my vantage, Obama faces five primary obstacles:

First, Reverend Jeremiah Wright remains an albatross, even given the media's best efforts to avoid him. The ranting, raving, blaspheming political sermons by an uncorked, unhinged Wright—with the congregation loving every minute—remains a cruise missile at Obama's bid for moderate to conservative churchgoers. Obama was way too close to Wright to politically extricate himself.

Second—brace yourselves, liberals—a sizable number of Americans suspect Obama is lying about Islamic roots. A Newsweek poll in June found that 12 percent of voters are convinced Obama is a Muslim, and one-in-four believe he was raised a Muslim. Such thinking has intensified with Jerome Corsi's bestselling book and with research by Islam observers like Daniel Pipes—who, though he accepts that Obama is today a Christian, says Obama is "lying" when he denies he was never a Muslim. Additional oddities continue to surface, such as a YouTube video in which Moammar Kaddafi is said to describe Obama as a fellow Muslim.

When I recently shared this factor with some liberals, their faces visibly contorted and they began yelling at me. Nonetheless, perceptions matter. This issue might become statistically important in a close election.

Third, conservative Christians are offended by how the secular left has greeted Obama as a messianic figure. The hosannas during Obama's Europe trip were so over-the-top that London Times columnist Gerard Baker ridiculed the senator's visit as akin to Christ's entrance into Jerusalem. The BBC interviewed a worshipful German who described Obama as his "redeemer." Fox found another who exalted his "new messiah." To the question, "Who do you say that I am?" some Europeans made their choice as Obama swept into their presence.

Given the agnostic left's search for salvation in politics, this is not a surprise, especially in post-modern, de-Christianized Europe.

This has only gotten worse. No less than a U.S. congressman, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), said on the House floor on September 10 that, "Barack Obama was a 'community organizer' like Jesus." (He then added, in reference to Governor Sarah Palin, that "Pontius Pilate was a governor.") And now there's YouTube video of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan calling Obama "the Messiah."

This is backfiring on Obama among the values voters he is seeking. To them, this reverence by the secular left is intolerably hypocritical. Liberals went bonkers when a presidential candidate named George W. Bush merely cited Christ as his favorite philosopher. And now they can compare Obama to Christ?

Fourth, "values voters" are skeptical of this appeal to faith by the Democratic nominee. There has been a well-orchestrated, openly admitted campaign, begun just days after the 2004 vote, especially by Hillary Clinton, Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid, to get Democrats talking faith as much as possible. Actual Democratic Party working groups and colloquia have been established, employing the Christian left's language of "social justice."

Obama himself picked this up early on. In a June 2006 address to the Call to Renewal convention, Obama appealed to religious voters. He recalled how in his 2004 Senate race, his support of abortion rankled his opponent. Obama protested, arguing there were policy issues that proved his Christianity—issues like supporting daycare subsidies and the estate tax.

Obama can protest all he wants, but values voters consider legislation mandating medical care for abortion survivors more important than legislation mandating estate taxes for the wealthy.

Speaking of which, and fifth, abortion is beyond doubt the overwhelming obstacle for Obama. He is the most extremist pro-choicer ever to get this close to the presidency. His stand-alone votes against bills protecting newborn babies who survive abortions were horrible. He calls abortion a "safety net" and vowed to Planned Parenthood in July 2007 that the "first thing" he would do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act, which would nationalize abortion policy and overturn all the perfectly reasonable state-level restrictions on abortion by bipartisan legislatures throughout America. Then there are Obama's revealing statements on the stump—such as how he would hate to see his daughters get pregnant out-of-wedlock and "punished with a baby."

Secular liberals cannot begin to imagine the opposition to Obama strictly on abortion. I've received an email several times, titled, "10 Reasons Christians Shouldn't Vote for Obama." Among the ten, seven are on abortion.

The unprecedented outcry from the religious community is further evidence. The reaction of the Catholic bishops is extraordinary. I've never witnessed them so exercised and committed to leading the flock, and doing so carefully and eloquently, especially among traditional Catholics who still think their party is run by Harry Truman and Jack Kennedy, and literally don't even know Obama is pro-choice. A poll last week by Investor's Business Daily showed a swing of 20 points for John McCain among Catholics, from an 11-point deficit to a 9-point lead. If McCain wins Catholics, he wins the election.

It all adds up to the reality that Barack Obama will have difficulty picking up values voters. His hope that they are not energized by McCain has dissipated with the Sarah Palin pick and the steady emergence of information on his abortion fanaticism.

A summer Pew poll showed McCain leading Obama among evangelicals by 61 to 25 percent, comparable to the margin enjoyed by Bush over Al Gore in 2000. More recently, the respected scholar Dr. John Green released a study finding that evangelicals favor McCain 57.2 percent to 19.9 percent, very similar to Bush's 60.4 percent to 19.6 percent over John Kerry at the same point in 2004.

It remains to be seen where, exactly, this will finish next Tuesday. As in 2000 and 2004, however, the values voters could make the difference.

Paul Kengor's books include "God and Ronald Reagan" (HarperCollins, 2004), "God and George W. Bush" (HarperCollins, 2004), and "God and Hillary Clinton" (HarperCollins, 2007). He is professor of political science and executive director of the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College.

This column is printed with permission. Opinions expressed in 'Perspectives' columns published by OneNewsNow.com are the sole responsibility of the article's author(s), or of the person(s) or organization(s) quoted therein, and do not necessarily represent those of the staff or management of, or advertisers who support the American Family News Network, OneNewsNow.com, our parent organization or its other affiliates.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Can't We All Just Get Along?

All people should have a choice to believe as they will, even if we don't always share the same beliefs. That's why I get along with so many different kinds of people and why I love them so much. Diversity is beautiful!

I haven't voted yet (because PA is not an "early voter" state), but there are things that appeal to me about BOTH candidates. Obama is definitely the more personable candidate with a wider appeal to most Americans. In many ways I identify with so many of his stands on different issues.

I think all American citizens deserve health care and that there need to be reforms to educational policies like No Child Left Behind, though I honestly don't know if he's taken a stance on it yet (if you know, let me know, will yah?). I don't think we should have gotten into a war in Iraq, trying to change a culture's way of life with billions of dollars will not work overnight or otherwise...it truly seems like another Vietnam. But then I think about all the good things that have come out of the war...was it worth it? I suppose it depends on who you ask, an American taxpayer or a person who was freed from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein.

Abortion and Gay Rights are two VERY divisive issues. Where to begin?

People that are decidedly gay or hetero, may create or experience serious conflict with one another. When people discuss issues/beliefs that are foundational to their sense of self, basic human rights and well being, things can heat up quickly, especially when one is intimately connected to people of differing lifestyles. That's probably why you're not supposed to discuss religion or politics in front of mixed company.

Some people genuinely believe that the heterosexual lifestyle is the only morally/biblically/ethically acceptable way of life while others believe that living out your life with your natural, even god-given sexual orientation (be it gay or straight) is right and that the opposing mentality is bigoted, antiquated and/or prejudicial. There may even be a few people who thing straight people are the ones that have it entirely wrong, I don't know. :) I'm not telling you anything you don't already know.

My belief is that our sexual lifestyle is a choice, regardless of our preference or inclination. I also believe that the heterosexual lifestyle within the marriage covenant is the only one (other than celibacy) that is pleasing to God (per the Bible). We all sin and do things that displease God. No one is without sin so we should leave God to do the judging, and love each other in the mean time. If we don't hold the same beliefs, we can share our beliefs with one another but God is the only judge we all have to answer to. Discussions on religion and politics are the two fastest ways to start a feud. It is not my intention to persuade, only to express my own beliefs on a couple of very sensitive/hot topic issues.

With regard to abortion...My belief is that babies that are "unwanted" should be allowed to be born and then adopted, even in horrible cases like rape or incest. Life begins at conception. As a woman who wants a child and hasn't been able to conceive, I can say that if my life were ever in jeopardy when I was pregnant, I don't think I would want to terminate the pregnancy just to save my own life. That would be a heart wrenching decision to make, but then when it comes to the topic of abortion, a big part of this issue is "choice"...and not wanting the government to legislate that decision for a woman. It's a multifaceted issue. What is the role of government in this case? What say you?

There is a divide in people's hearts/values between nature and nurture, personal rights and government intervention...What things should be left up to personal choice and which things should the government be allowed to decide/regulate for us for the good of many? Regardless of when we believe life begins or if sexual orientation is genetic or personal choice judged or not judged by a Creator, we can all come together to respect one another if not our opinions. It's when we are willing to hear each other out, and agree to disagree that we can live more harmoniously, even if we're not in perfect agreement. However, our intention to love one another unconditionally and respect each other does not exempt us from God's mandate to live a righteous life or our need to repent of a sinful lifestyle, admitting our need for a saviour and living a life pleasing to God according to the Bible. Allow me to elucidate a smidgen.

I love people for the sake of loving people, not for the choices they make. If I didn't, my love would be conditional and dependent on spoken or unspoken stipulations. I think God loves his children unconditionally, but there is a penalty for sin because God is just. That's why he sent his son Jesus to die for us on the cross and pay the penalty for all. All we have to do is believe in the necessity of Christ's sacrifice on the cross and take him as Lord of our lives, endeavoring to live according to his word, the Bible. If we believe in Christ as savior, we are spared from spending eternity in hell (the penalty we deserve being born sinners) and we'll live eternally with the Lord in a new heaven and a new earth that is described in the Bible. If we choose to make Christ the Lord of our lives and to live righteously according to his Holy word the Bible, we'll see evidence of our efforts, what the Bible calls "fruit."

That's it, I'm off my soap box. There are entire debates that battle about the validity and relevance of scripture, about the justice and or existence of God and about other very powerful issues that speak to the question of our purpose on Earth. That's another conversation and I've already gone on long enough.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Have you ever seen the movie "It's a Wonderful Life"? In this 1946 Frank Capra movie, a character named George Bailey gets a look at how life on Earth would play out if he had died in childhood. With the help of an angel named Clarence, George sees how the lives of the people in his town and the loved ones in his life would be without him. George gets a tour of "Potterville." I'm home touring my version of Potterville.

One thing that is hard for me to accept is change. There's just something that twists inside my gut to know that "time waits for no man" or woman, and that life and death go on.

On our drive "home" to a small town in western NY state to visit my parents, I saw how much time had changed not just the people, but the landscape.

We no longer stopped for gas at the old Mobile station along one of the now defunct at-grade intersections. A "new" thruway in Horseheads allowed us to bypass the town at 65mph.

Our locally owned grocery store, Big "M" (once owned by the Milburn family) was replaced by a non-descript Save-a-lot.

The town bank is closed.

The local pizza place that once had an eat-in dining room now only allows you to step three feet in the door to a counter to pick up your pie.

A drunken twenty-something woman drove her car into a historic barn off of Clover street and walked away with her life, but the barn burned down around the car, melting it into a lump of metal resembling a four door sedan.

The coffee shop changed hands.

The car dealership closed.

And even as the farm land disappears and the developments take their place, the worst losses to feel are the absences created when the people you love die and they just aren't there anymore.

I'm sitting at the computer at my parents house, writing to you, wearing my pajamas, and my grandfather's old sweater and his Rush Henrietta coaching jacket. It still smells like him. If you smell real close. Mom is washing some of our clothes we are packing to take with us on our flight tomorrow.

This weekend we had just planned to come up for a family picnic. It's turned into an extended mission. Tomorrow morning, Mom and I are flying to Milwaukee, via Baltimore, MD to visit with my Aunt Judy who had an aneurysm last Saturday.

We lost my grandfather almost 10 years ago. My friend Nina died in December, and my Mom's best friend died in July and now her sister is very sick. I never really felt loss until people started dying.

We drove by a cemetery on our way home from the picnic today and saw people clustered around a grave site saying their goodbyes to someone they loved. It was raining, and the whole day wept with them.

The older I get the more I understand loss and the more I look forward to heaven. That's when I'll finally be home, and time will be my friend in the embodiment of eternity. It will be my "always" without death or disease or loss. I will only feel love, joy, peace and happiness and other good things.

I was talking to my mom in the car and I told her sometimes it's hard to believe there's anything after this life. I told her I just wished we saw more supernatural things so that I KNEW there was something tangible to believe in. She told me that somebody once said that if we could glimpse heavenly things that people would be throwing themselves in front of cars and jumping off rooftops to get there. I suppose she's right and I'm just a "doubting Thomas."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I'm Voting Democrat (Psych!)

Posted on my friend's MySpace bulletin (I stole it from Seth):

I'm voting Democrat because English has no place being the official language in America.

I'm voting Democrat because I'd rather pay $4 for a gallon of gas than allow drilling for oil off the coasts of America.

I'm voting Democrat because I think the government will do a better job of spending my money than I could.

I'm voting Democrat because when we pull out of Afghanistan and Iraq, I know the Islamic terrorists will stop trying to kill us because they'll think we're a good and decent country.

I'm voting Democrat because I believe people who can't tell us if it will rain in two or three days, can now tell us the polar ice caps will disappear in ten years if I don't start riding a bicycle, build a windmill or inflate my tires to proper levels.

I'm voting Democrat because it's alright to kill millions of babies as long as we keep violent, convicted murderers on death row alive.

I'm voting Democrat because I believe businesses in America should not be allowed to make profits. Businesses should just break even and give the rest to the government so politicians and bureaucrats can redistribute the money the way they think it should be redistributed.

I'm voting Democrat because I believe guns, and not the people misusing them, are the cause of crimes and killings.

I'm voting Democrat because when someone with a weapon threatens my family or me, I know the government can respond faster through a call to 911 than I can with a gun in my hand.

I'm voting Democrat because oil companies' 5%profit on a gallon of gas are obscene, but government taxes of 18% on the same gallon of gas are just fine.

I'm voting Democrat because I believe three or four elitist liberals should rewrite the Constitution every few months to suit some fringe element that could never get their agenda past voters.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Trusting the Lord

I've received troubling news over the weekend that has my ire up. I have a sick loved one, some serious trouble in a close friend's family, and a relative of a co-worker that was just diagnosed with advanced stage lung cancer that has metastasized throughout his body. Couple that with not getting pregnant, home work, marriage stress, and my husband's birthday this week and I'm tempted by a train load of stresses and worries!

I'm into triage mode right now and that's where I'm going to let myself stay. I cannot get emotionally involved in many of these issues or I will absolutely fall apart. I know we live in an imperfect, sinful world, and that death and troubles are an inevitable part of life. I just wish they weren't.

Sometimes it's hard to "Let go and Let God." Often times I try and accomplish things through my own strength. Make that most of the time....

We are not alone. Emmanuel: God is with us. And there is so much to be thankful for in this life he has given to us. We are to live as God intended; in communion with him. At this, I admit failure, as I do not nurture that relationship as I should. I must live intentionally in my relationship with the Lord as I have undertaken to do with my earthly brothers and sisters.

This weekend, I'm headed home to the Rochester area to visit with family. It will be a time of fellowship and I am hoping, of renewal.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Birfday Partay

Next Wednesday, Oct. 22nd is my husband's 32nd birfday (that's myspeak for "birthday" in case you didn't know). We're having a family dinner for him tomorrow night. Jeff's Mom likes to make each of her kids their favorite dinner on their birthday. It's very sweet and she loves to do it.

The only thing I am responsible for cooking for dinner is the birfday cake. Jeff asked for chocolate chip cheesecake and that is what he shall have. Tomorrow between meeting with my research group in the morning and the birthday party at 5:30, I'll make his cheesy birfday cake. I still have to buy the ingredients and pick up Grammy at 5:15 pm.

It's getting pretty bad. What's getting bad? My memory. I need to invest in a PDA or something. For the second time I have stood a friend up at Applebees, different friend, same restaurant. It doesn't matter how often I write things down on my various calendars (academic or household calendar) I cannot remember appointments when things get crazy...and things have been crazy for awhile now.

I don't think there is any hope for me for the next few months. Between my brain fog from the copious amounts of Splenda and NutraSweet I have been consuming, and lack of restful sleep, I am doomed to forget more appointments with more friends, unless I become somewhat of a hermit and avoid people altogether. Then I won't have any friends to forget. Sigh.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Persecuted in India

I wanted to put this story out there because I think it's important to give attention to news stories that don't necessarily make the western news reports. I received an email this morning from the Christian university where I attend graduate classes. The Christian church is being persecuted in India and people are dying. It's a very volatile situation since some Hindus were killed in an anonymous act of violence and Christians are being blamed. Now there is an unchecked killing spree happening while Indian authorities are trying to regain control of the situation. See the email below.

"Chancellor Hall received this extremely troubling news from a missionary couple (names deleted to protect them) and their churches in Orissa, India. The request came from (name omitted) an associate of HCJB Global. Please read and join together in making this a matter of urgent prayer.

'Dear beloved sponsors and friends of Good News India. We have never seen anything like this. We knew that Orissa was the most resistant and hostile State in India as far as the Gospel is concerned. And we brushed off the continuous threats and harassment we faced as we went about His work. But none of our staff imagined that they would see this kind of carnage... And it seems to be totally under the radar of the Western Media.Let me explain.

A militant Hindu priest and 4 of his attendants, who were zealously going around the villages of Orissa and 'reconverting' people back to Hinduism, were gunned down by unknown assailants in Central Orissa last weekend. Immediately the Christians were blamed. The cry rose up...'Kill the Christians!' And the horror began...

In the past 4 days, we have first hand witness to hundreds
of churches being blown up or burned and many, many dozens of Christian tribals have been slaughtered. For no other reason than they bare the name of Christ.Night and day I have been in touch with our Good News India Directors spread across 14 Dream Centers in Orissa... they are right in the middle of all this chaos.

In Tihidi, just after the police came to offer protection, a group of 70 blood-thirsty militants came to kill our staff and destroy the home. They were not allowed to get in, but they did a lot of damage to our Dream Center by throwing rocks and bricks and smashing our gate, etc. They have promised to come back and 'finish the job.' Our kids and staff are locked inside and have stayed that way with doors and windows shut for the past 3 days. It has been a time of desperately calling on the Lord in prayer. More police have come to offer protection.

In Kalahandi, the police and some local sympathizers got to our dream center and gave our staff and kids about 3 minutes notice to vacate. No one had time to even grab a change of clothes or any personal belonging. As they fled, the bloodthirsty mob came to kill everyone in the building. We would have had a mass funeral there, but for His grace.

In Phulbani, the mob came looking for Christian homes and missions. The local Hindu people, our neighbors turned them away by saying that there were no Christians in this area. So they left. We had favor. The same thing happened in Balasore.All our dream centers are under lock down with the kids and staff huddled inside and police outside. The fanatics are circling outside waiting for a chance to kill. Others were not so fortunate.

In a nearby Catholic orphanage, the mob allowed the kids to leave and locked up a Priest and a computer teacher in the house and burned them to death. Many believers have been killed and hacked into pieces and left on the road... even women and children.

At another orphanage run by another organization, when this began, the Director and his wife jumped on their motorbike and simply fled, leaving all the children and staff behind. Every one of our GNI directors that I have spoken to said: 'We stay with our kids... we live together or die together, but we will never abandon what God has called us to do.' More than 5000 Christian families have had their homes burned or destroyed. They have fled into the jungles and are living in great fear waiting for the authorities to bring about peace. But so far, no peace is foreseen.

This will continue for another 10 days... supposedly the 14 day mourning period for the slain Hindu priest. Many more Christians will die and their houses destroyed. Many more churches will be smashed down. The Federal government is trying to restore order and perhaps things will calm down. We ask for your prayers. Only the Hand of God can calm this storm. None of us know the meaning of persecution. But now our kids and staff know what that means.

So many of our kids coming from Hindu backgrounds are confused and totally bewildered at what is happening around them. So many of their guardians have fled into the jungles and are unable to come and get them during these trying times. Through all this, I am more determined than ever to continue with our goal: the transformation of a community by transforming its children. Orissa will be saved... that is our heart's cry. If we can take these thousands of throw-away children and help them to become disciples of Jesus, they will transform an entire region. It is a long-term goal, but it is strategic thinking in terms of the Great Commission. What can you do?

First, please uphold all this in fervent prayer. Second, pass this e-mail on to as many friends as you can. We must get the word out and increase our prayer base for this is spiritual warfare at its most basic meaning. We are literally fighting the devil in order to live for His Kingdom.

The next 10 days are crucial. We pray for peace and calm to pervade across Orissa.Thank you for taking the time to read this. Please pass it on and help us to get as many people to partner with us on this cutting edge effort to fulfill His mandate: Go and make disciples of all nations...Prayer works!'

Here is a website where you can get up-to-date info on the Orissa, India, prayer request that was sent out today. Check out http://www.gfa.org/orissa-update
Gospel for Asia: Orissa Updates. Articles, photos, and video are available. Thank you for your prayers. Blessings.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Taking "Insert Name Here" to the Mattresses

Have you ever had a time in your life when you've had to take someone to the mattresses? I'm not talking about bedding some wench from the Renaissance Fair. I'm talking about making a business decision that has the potential to offend other people; people that it's politically incorrect to offend. But it's not personal, it's business...like in the movie The Godfather. Think Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan and Robert Duvall.

Take when I finally grew a pair and introduced myself to the rest of my Research Design class as someone who was interested in working with people who wanted to work hard and get this project done. My professor cut in and iterated she thought at the Masters level all students were interested in working hard.

I silently disagreed. I could have played my hand differently. I could have stood around like everyone else did, like a middle school kid at a dance, looking at my feet, afraid to speak up and ask that attractive someone, strike that, anyone to dance. But I didn't.

The long and short of it is, I ended up with two excellent research partners because I had a sound idea to seek out like-minded individuals and I was rewarded for my efforts. Just think, if I hadn't said anything, I could have ended up with some milk-sop research partners on whom I would have had to install lo-jack just to track them down to make an appointment to go over our project plans. (I've heard the groans of others who didn't grow a pair in time to do them any good).

So take it from me. There comes a time in every man or woman's life when they have to say "Screw the party line... I'm going to stand up for myself and let my voice be heard." Because you can do it, and no one has to get hurt. No blood and guts...maybe a few tears, but that's it.

Don't be afraid to take'em to the mattresses. It's not personal. It's business.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Working on My Paper

I'm digging into the trenches of academia and writing the first part of my paper that's due in a couple of weeks. The final product is due at the end of November. Argh. Academic writing....the bane of my existence. Week after week I tell myself, "Just a few more weeks until you are done with this class!"

Now half-way through the course, having had our project approved just today, I'm looking forward to conducting my interviews, and writing the rest of this paper, right after we finish our literature review. Good gravy...we're half-way there. It will feel good to be done.

Fatigue is my enemy. Completion of this project is my goal. Your prayers are appreciated!

I am totally fat and totally tense and totally ready to bust some heads. I'm stayin' off the roads and holing up in my house so that I don't take liberties with my non-existent license to kill.

This is Cornholio signing off.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Jewelry Jazz

Well...I didn't take pictures. I forgot the camera upstairs and I had already barricaded the stairs with guest chairs so I didn't try to go through the guests and through the show, up the stairs to locate the camera. We had fun though!

I served these yummy new appetizers from Pillsbury and I had a triple chocolate cake from Landis supermarkets. I hear that their secret ingredient to their cakes is Pillsbury cake mix or flour or something. The cake was really good. I'm glad I only had one piece and that I sent the rest home with my guests. The bad thing is, I bought donut holes for small group tonight and brought those popable devils home to roost...temporarily...until I ate most of them and threw the less favored ones in the trash.

I need to make friends with a gym.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Sparkley Times at the Schoon's

This Saturday I'm hosting another party. I like these parties. I'm a sucker for them. Well...for some of them.

Saturday night we'll be trying on Premier Designs jewelry. It should be fantastic! The house will be full of laughter and fun. That's the part I like about these parties, the female companionship and the rip roaring good times we have together. I'll take some pictures to provide you with a vicarious jewelry party experience.

Do you like to wear jewelry? Honestly, I considered it an extra expense for the longest time. Now, I think of it as frosting on the cake. It's nice, but not a necessity (for myself at least). That's one reason to have your own party, so you can earn free or discounted jewelry.

In these times of economic cut backs, we're all doing what we can to balance our budgets, and cut back on spending.

I'm working again (Praise the Lord) but Jeff and I are working for less money and without medical benefits. About one quarter of my monthly income will go to providing our health coverage each month. Dems da breaks right now.

Listen to me people. Do not allow your children to major in anything else besides a degree that will net them a professional career if financial independence from Mom and Dad is your goal. That's all I'm sayin'.

Majors that should be outlawed (if only done on their own): Art, Psychology, Communication, International Studies, Women's Studies, can you think of anymore? Do you agree or disagree?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Crunch Time

Sorry I have been MIA from my blog. Things are getting harried and heavy in my Research Design class. I have a group meeting tomorrow night and I'm working on the first half of 10 literature review summaries. I've been fighting the cold at the same time, and working my full time job. No time for creative thoughts right now. Must push on... More later! Wish me safe driving in the A.M. on my new 40 minute commute zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.............

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Scratchy Throat, Positive Outlook

I'm getting a cold. I can feel it inflaming my throat and coating it with phlegm. Tasty... There's nothing like stress to make you vulnerable to little microscopic nasties. How to fight it?

Sleep? Vitamins? Juice? Hot tea? Short of fattening myself up and then hibernating for the winter in a lovely, dark cave to sleep through the symptoms of this cold, I think there isn't much to do but let the bug run its course. Stinkerroo!

On the plus side, I did manage to find a full time temporary opportunity as a receptionist with an area township. I wanted to be honest with any potential employer to let them know I would only be available a few months before I have to student teach and they were OK with that. I heard about this job through my husband who heard about it through a mutual friend (thanks Jay), I submitted my resume that same day and got a call back to go to an interview the next day (yesterday) and today I got a call with a job offer! Yay! I am thankful for the Lord's provision.

My cat Hobbes is snuggled up on my chest between my arms as I recline on the couch with my legs on the coffee table and type on my laptop which rests on my thighs. I'm wearing my teal terry cloth bathrobe and this cat loves to snuggle with me when I'm wearing it. I wish I could take and post a picture of how we look here together. My typing on my laptop, jostling him a bit as I type and him not caring. He is such a love able sweetheart.

Last night I visited a bit with my friend Christi after class. I bought a WaWa sub on my way to her house and she showed me what she's been doing to redecorate her apartment in her spare time as I inhaled said sub while sitting rapt with attention (between bites) on her couch. Then we went out for ice cream at a place called Handel's in Wayne, PA. I had a single dip delectable delicacy they called "Chocolate Cake Batter" ice cream in a waffle cone with chocolate sprinkles. Amazing treat that icecream cone. Diggity Dang!

Well, I'd best be about my bidness. Shoot me a comment when you get a chance and let me know how your part of the world fares. Mine is faring just about average. X's and O's, -Orion

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Trouble Concentrating

I'm being distracted by Daytime TV, specifically Jerry Springer and The Maury Show. I know. I know. Trash TV! Due to lack of discipline and my aversion to reading up on academic research I've got the TV on and find myself diverted from my best laid plans of doing homework.

My eyeballs automatically glaze over when I go to read an academic article. The authors take 200 words to say what they could in 20. I start to read a sentence and by the end of it, I can't understand what it means. Oi Vay! Digesting academic jargon takes time; time that I can never get back...

Sometimes I think authors compete to see how complicated they can make their papers. The more complexly worded it is, the more "academic" the article. I have to keep my eye on the prize and just think that this will be over in just over two months. Argh. Other people have survived this class...and I will too. I will never be an academic writer and probably will never pursue a doctoral degree...but I can make it through this class. I think I can...I think I can...I think I can....


Maybe I'll take a trip to the local farmer's market and get some juicy apples...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Yowser! Stress...and Commentary

I'm feeling a little blue so I'm going to be all over the place with this post. Try and stick with me.

This is a picture of me looking at the giant aquarium exhibit with all the sharks and big fish, on vacation in NC. It seemed to fit.

I have the canker sore that ate Manhattan swelling in the inside of my lower lip. It started the second to last day of vacation and it's growing to monstrous proportions... Several things are conspiring to form the "perfect storm" of stress in my life. There is a growing sense of being overwhelmed right now...to use a beach analogy, I'm feel like I'm being rolled by a big wave and pummeled by the surf. Going on vacation after the fall semester started was a bad idea.

I had a very vivid nightmare early this morning about my Research Design class. I was presenting a project that I was totally unprepared to present and I had no idea what I was supposed to talk about and everything was disorganized and unfamiliar and everyone was looking at me with disdain and the professor was completely disappointed in me and gave me a really bad grade and wouldn't let me make it up. There were scissors, scotch tape and poster board involved, and it was horrible.

At some unknown and black hour of the night, Hobbes (our tiger cat) woke us up before the butt crack of dawn to play fetch and to be petted (he missed us a lot). In between settling him down I went in and out of the aforementioned nightmare and another new one about wandering around in a supermarket, without a list, while the lights kept going out and people almost started looting the place and threatening violence and I couldn't find my mom. Yup. I'm officially losing control.

I think I'm really starting to realize just how crazy my life has become. I know that everything is relative, but I really am stressed out of my mind. The causes? A non-relaxing vacation, lack of sleep, constipation, sun burn, period, hormones, weight loss woes, household chores, poor diet, course load and lack of understanding for what I should be doing, being buried in homework for said class, and missing my family in western NY. Did I mention that hormones suck?

I focus on the fact that this has happened before, and that this too shall pass. I also focus on not directing my angst towards my husband. Nobody likes to be the dog that gets kicked. At least maturity has guided my actions to this point and I have been able to decide to not pick at Jeff in a sorry attempt to gain some control of my life. I was able to focus my thoughts on a walk yesterday and then able to talk things through with a friend. Instead of attacking my husband, I'll focus on my schedule, and on my syllabus, and on exercising and cleaning. Those things always help. :)

Speaking of husbands...I'm watching a husband and wife get hitched on TV on GMA today. Tom and Annette are getting married in front of Niagara Falls. She walked down the aisle without her daddy. I wonder what the story is there. It's a super short ceremony, with stupid, shallow vows, easily broken, no depth. It's ridiculous...and scripted for TV.

Our cats are on patrol in the living room, poking around, searching for bugs, and I think for each other. It's always fireworks when they find one another. :) Perhaps I should adopt a philosophy of simplicity like my cats...but if I did that, I wouldn't ever graduate with my degree. Sigh.

Are there any storms in your life right now?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Vacation Journal

Drive down to Stoney Creek, VA (just south of Richmond) and stay at the Sleep Inn.
Likes: King size bed, free WiFi access, snuggling with husband and relaxing, knowing we have a week to be together on vacation.
Dislikes: knowing we only have a week of vacation before it's back to the daily grind and anticipating needing an additional week to really relax.

Waffles for breakfast at the Sleep Inn in Stoney Creek, VA. Yum!
Weather: Rainy and windy (driving through the aftermath of tropical storm Hannah)Occurrences: check in, have discussion with the lady who has taken over the other three units in our vacation rental for a Tuesday wedding and family get together. She is unhappy with the parking situation. She is upset we have two cars and she wants to park six. We think she’s the mother of the bride or something. The free WiFi access we are supposed to have at the house is non-existent and both beds in our unit are sway-backed and uncomfortable to sleep on. We stock up on food for the evening meal and for breakfast.

Weather: Sunny and humid.
Occurrences: I get my period. We attend a local Baptist church. We eat lunch at Ruby Tuesday’s and go to Super Wal-Mart for supplies. I find free WiFi at two local coffee shops. I email my homework to my professor but am unable to access my University’s website and therefore Blackboard and my class forum. I continue to work on my paper for Wed.

We get up early and head to The Point (tip of the island) to go beachcombing while Jeff and Ian body board. I avoid a sun burn and stay on a regular regimen of Ibuprofen. Good times. We hang out with the Beams at their place for Monday night football. I get to see Caleb. He’s 18 months now and his favorite word is “Wow!” Steph is preggers with Caleb’s little brother Jake. Caleb has a cold and coughs a lot after drinking lemonade. Caleb’s coughing leads to vomiting and to his credit, Ian catches most of it in his cupped hands while Steph gets the rest. Ah parenting! I get to know Marcy, Ian’s brother’s girlfriend a bit better. I edit my paper some more.

First half of the day…went to the coffee shop…so cute…bought some Decaf Black Vanilla Tea (for Mom and I to try later) and a bag of freshly ground coffee, and a small Café Mocha and I settled in to finish posting my paper and check my email. I took two power dumps in the café toilet because I had my period and I had caffeine in my system. It wasn’t exactly pleasant at the time. The internet cut out and I had to lurk outside the other coffee place in the plaza (which was closed) to finish posting the paper. I went home, collected my mother-in-law (our neighbors were headed out to their Wedding celebration) and we went shopping in that same set of shops. It was fun. I bought a gift for Aaron and Michelle as a “Thank You” for watching our kitties and house.

Second half of the day…trip to New Bern. Visited an art gallery, walked around, visited a store where I talked on a cell phone and took pictures. I shouldn’t have done either, and I didn’t know until I was asked to stop taking pictures. When we left the store I glanced back and saw a sign that asked people not to talk on their cell phones in the store. Oops!Evening…we watched Ratatouille and drank tea or HC.

It was supposed to rain today so our trip to Bear Island got put off another day. I had two or three cups of coffee this morning, brewed from our beach house coffee maker. Jeff dropped me off to visit with Steph, and picked up Ian and went surfing at The Point. I hung with the Beam gang at the house while Caleb napped. Steph fed me a yummy blueberry bagel with cream cheese and I made more coffee at her house (drank 2 cups).

Mom and Dad Schoon went off on their own after an early walk to the pier.This afternoon I finished my book Rachel lent me (The Art of Racing in the Rain) while Mom and Dad went off again on their own while Jeff was shooting. I decided I wanted to walk down to the Beam’s cottage. I took water and my celly in a backpack and told Steph I was coming and Jeff I was going. Stepher drove me back home. I walked about seven miles along the beach in a light drizzle. It was invigorating.

Jeff and Dad are grilling sausage and salmon for dinner while Mom is making broccoli and her potatoes. So yummy! It’s going to be a Delish Dinner! I think we’ll try to go to Bear Island tomorrow morning.

We had a fabulous trip to Bear Island. I was badly sunburned around my upper legs (basically everywhere not covered by my bathing suit bottom) and the backs of my legs. I went shelling without putting sunscreen on my lower extremities and I have paid the price by sunburning my padonkedonk. If it wasn’t so painful, it would have been very funny. We walked about five miles today.

After Bear Island we had freshly made waffle cones at the local Dairy Queen. Yum!We had dinner at The Spouter restaurant in Beaufort, NC with my in-laws and a couple of friends that were down for the week. Jeff and I traded steaks when mine came to me rare and his was medium-well.

We bought some Aloe Vera spray at the local Food Lion for my flaming ass. It’s our last full day in sandy paradise.
We all went to the NC Aquarium and went antiquing during the day. We take a walk on the beach by the light of the moon on our last night here. It is beautiful and I am sad to leave tomorrow despite the fact that our mattress sucks.

Mom and Dad head for home in their car. Jeff and Ian play in a volleyball tournament. Stephanie and I head for Goldsboro, NC after a brief stop for coffee at Beans and Screens Internet Café. Steph spills hot coffee on her leg but recovers quickly. We have a nice day of shopping. Caleb gets kissed by a little girl at a second hand store. Jeff and Ian struggle to get two pizzas for our dinner at a local Papa John’s from a group of unmotivated teens.The king sized bed in Jeff and my room is awesome!

We drive home and avoid being involved in a tractor trailer accident with three other cars. We just had to sit through the traffic delay. I unload the car and do laundry. Nuff said!


This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Back from Vacation

Our trip to the NC Aquarium in Emerald Isle, NC
Shopping in New Bern, NC the birthplace of Pepsi Cola....

A view up the beach from our rental just before sunset...

Well, I'm back from vacation, wading throught piles of laundry, making a grocery list and trying to get caught up on homework. I thought I would post some pictures so you may get a look at what it was like to vacation in NC.