September 22, 2010

Beginning at the End

Fall marks the end of summer, but it's also a time of beginnings.

The air begins to chill, the leaves begin to fall, the animals begin a flurry of activity that will help them during the winter months.

For me, fall means my birthday and - coincidentally - the birth of my first child, too. Talk about beginnings! What a blessed one to have this time of year. To be honest, I wanted my wedding to be in the fall and, when it happened in the dead of summer, I was slightly disappointed. But a baby is a wonderful fall celebration!

I have been doing a lot in preparation for the little butterbean's arrival.. and just because fall makes me extra crafty. Here are the fall projects in photo:

Painting the bassinet

The finished product

Pousse thinks it looks pretty cozy, too

Personalizing some onesies

Iron-on transfers came from etsy

I love birds!

Made new linens for the bed

And put up favorite Van Goghs.. in miniature

Finally sewed a bedskirt! (long overdue)

My favorite yellow chair/reading corner

Taking glamour shots of Nic on his new scooter

Enjoying subtle fall sunsets

And fall colors

And the company of these lovely ladies!

September 21, 2010

White Horse Inn will be in Palos Hills, IL on 9/24 and 9/25!

Don't miss this RARE opportunity to see all four White Horse Inn hosts within driving distance!

Mike Horton, Rod Rosenbladt, Ken Jones, and Kim Riddlebarger will be recording a live White Horse Inn episode followed by a live Q & A session on Friday, Sept 24, in Palos Heights, IL. On Saturday, Sept 25, you will have the rare opportunity to hear from each host individually (see schedule below).

• There is still plenty of seating; the Chicago Christian High School Auditorium seats 600.
• Registration is only $30.00. (Groups of 6 or more only $25.00 and children under 10 are free)
• This is a RARE opportunity to see all four hosts so close to home - so organize a group of people to head out.

REGISTER ONLINE NOW (scroll down the page to see the White Horse Inn icon) or by phone at (708) 403-3404


When - Friday and Saturday, September 24-25, 2010
Who - Mike Horton, Rod Rosenbladt, Ken Jones, and Kim Riddlebarger (ALL FOUR HOSTS)
What - The Sufficiency of Scripture live taping and
conference: designed to enhance our understanding of what the Sufficiency of Scripture means and doesn't mean; how it is sufficient for doctrine, life, worship, and outreach.

Where - Chicago Christian High School, 12001 S. Oak Park Avenue, Palos Heights, IL
Sponsor - Covenant OPC, 9340 West 147th Street, Orland Park, IL 60462 ph. (708) 403-3404


Friday, September 24, 2010

5:30 - 7:30 PM
Registration & Book Table open

7:30 - 7:35 PM
Introductory Remarks
Rev. Iain Wright

7:35 - 8:30 PM
A live recording of the White Horse Inn,
featuring a discussion of "The Sufficiency of Scripture"
Usual Cast of Characters

8:30 - 9:00 PM
Audience Q & A
Usual Cast of Characters

Saturday, September 25, 2010

7:30 - 8:30 AM
Registration and Book Table

8:30 - 9:20 AM
Session 1: The Sufficiency of Scripture: What it does and doesn't mean.

Sola scriptura (by Scripture alone) isn't solo scriptura (scripture alone). In other words, the sufficiency of Scripture doesn't exclude the teachings of the church (such as the creeds). Nor does it mean that Scripture is sufficient for everything in life regardless of whether it actually addresses everything or not. What it does mean is that only in Scripture do we find the authoritative teaching of God's law and gospel.
Rev. Dr. Rod Rosenbladt

9:30 - 10:20 AM
Session 2: Sufficient for Doctrine and Life

Churches of the Reformation teach the value of creeds and confessions not because they’re on a par with Scripture, but because they summarize Scripture. They stand under God’s Word. While other people and institutions communicate truth and oblige us to obey their commands, the church cannot go beyond Scripture in its doctrinal and moral teachings and the believer must refuse all authorities that add to or take away from God’s Word.
Rev. Ken Jones

10:20 - 11:00 AM
Beverage & Light Snacks, Book Table, Book Signing & Meet and Greet the Hosts

11:00 - 11:50 AM
Session 3: Sufficient for Worship

Many churches still use God's Word in worship, but do we believe that God's Word is sufficient for defining the public services? Or do we think that we can worship God however we like as long as we're sincere?
Dr. Kim Riddlebarger

12:00 PM - 12:50 PM
Session 4: Sufficient for Outreach

Methods for evangelism and outreach are always changing, we're told, to make the gospel more relevant to particular times and places. Of course, there is appropriate sensitivity to our context, but is Scripture sufficient for determining not only what we say to the world but how we say it?
Dr. Michael Horton

September 17, 2010

Three Weeks to Thirty

I turn 30 this October 8th. And I have no idea how to think about that.

As a teenager I so very much looked forward to this milestone birthday. In my mind, a thirty-year-old was so many things: a woman, an adult, a married person, potentially a mother and someone who is fulfilled. It was the stereotypical idea of "having it all."

It wasn't until after college that, looking at the wayward direction of my life, that milestone started to look a little less attractive. And by the time I was 26, I developed a full-on dread of the upcoming bday.

Becoming a Christian staid that fear, which was a very welcome change of mind. But a few challenging years went by and the "newness" of that renewal sort of wore off. [Which is probably a sign that my initial conversion, wasn't (or at least that it wasn't regenerative).] Moving four times, holding several different jobs and not having much time to make friends along the way didn't help matters. Presently, being isolated in Madison with no friends or family for 100 miles plus, isn't helping to assuage my worry about not knowing who I am.

I started writing the post below several months ago, I think before I knew I was pregnant. I went back and finished it today. It's just a jumble of thoughts about identity; who we think we are, should be, and/or how to understand when those expectations don't materialize on time. Let me know what you think in the comments. If you're willing, think back to the eve of your own 30th birthday (or even before that) and who you wanted to be. What would you tell the younger you about her worries?


After watching "Julie/Julia" last night, I feel even more convinced that I don't know who I am.

To tell you the truth I didn't care much for the movie. Maybe that's because I thought I would LOVE it and I only liked it. I found the scenes with Julie boring and her cloying. I know I'm supposed to identify with her but I just didn't. Funny, because I'm sure I fit the exact profile they were aiming at - almost thirty, a rag-tag existence, no goals, a half-written career in authorship. Of course my "foodie by night" self really wanted to identify with her, and share in the joy of cooking. But it's hard to look at a semi-fictitious life (the movie is based on a real person's story) which bears so much resemblance to one's own, to see its success and not recognize the obvious: my life is nothing like this.

This has happened to me before. There are a few movies in which I have seen similarity between the main character and myself so much that I almost lost it. Here are the movies, the character and the reasons why I identify.

* Lost in Translation - Charlotte

She's a recent philosophy B.A. grad (I have a Phil. BA also) who moves to Tokyo with her husband of two years while he pursues a dream of photography. But she just can't hang with the sensorally-overloaded Japanese culture, doesn't speak the language and doesn't have any goals. She meets a middle-aged man who is semi-famous (or once was), he befriends her and pays her a lot of attention. She feels mature in his presence, and they share intimate conversation about being married and being confused by it and life in general. It's nothing gross; the most sordid thing that happens is he kisses her on the cheek goodbye. He whispers some advice in her ear and she cries, but she ends up pretty much where she started, lost.

* Lost - Kate

Kate is a criminal in her past, yet has found a way to rationalize it to herself. She leaves family, towns, jobs and men with a sort of unequivocal ease of mind. She's torn about it, but not too much. At least not enough to stop behaving in her own self-interest while ignoring everyone else. She's even kidnapped a child and pretended it's hers. Kate loves Patsy Cline in an ironic way; she imagines that she (Kate) is the one being left behind. We know different.

* Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - Clementine

This grown-up girl seems to love her gyspy-like existence, flitting from haircolor to haircolor (or job to job) with wild abandon. She lives in the moment. She's a dreamer. But does she have any real thoughts, or are they just vapid, semi-sarcastic observations about a world she really doesn't understand?

Clem meets Joel, a depressed and needy man who needs to be drawn out of his shell but is satisfied to live vicariously through someone else who has no shell. That, predictably, is Clementine, who shows him an amazing, exciting world... with no real substance. After a year or so they realize they have nothing to talk about, and both end up erasing each other from their memories. Joel, however, decides mid-procedure that he wants to remember her. When asked later, Clementine simply explains erasing him with the comment that she's "impulsive," as if that is an excuse for being heartless.

* Fight Club - Marla

Truly a piece of post-modern work, Marla is simply trying to destroy herself one element at a time. In her effort to feign illness - not to get attention, because she actually wishes she was terminally ill, and this is an important distinction - she meets Jack, a man who joined groups just so people would listen to his ideas.

Unfortunately for Marla, she's dim-witted and only knows how to attract bad men. Jack is one of those, though at times he can be quite deceiving! He is appropriately clever and charming, and smart enough to coordinate and train a worldwide group of terrorist cells. He is, to put it mildly, pretty self-deceived. Marla likes the most deceived part of him who, eventually, wins over the mastermind but destroys the greater portion of a major city in the process. Marla, however, does seem hopeful that this could be the re-beginning of their relationship.

P.S. I'm sorry if I just ruined the ending of "Fight Club" for you. However, the movie has been out for ten years and if you were going to see it, you probably would have by now. No loss to you if you haven't, in my opinion. Chuck Palahniuk stories are pretty course.

I don't have a clever wrap-up to this post. I'm closer now to my 30th than when I began writing this, and in the meantime have discovered another blogger who was going through a similar identity crisis and started her blog, "New Dress a Day," after being inspired by "Julie and Julia" to quit bitching and do something new. Which, predictably, made me feel like my own concerns were contrived (since someone else used the same pop culture referent to spark a renewal). Darn it, I'm not even original in the sources of my concerns!

Perhaps the problem is that I have found similarities in pop culture referents at all; as a Christian I should be seeing myself how Christ sees me, no? I gotta tell you, that is a lovely platitude but often statements like that fall flat in the face of daily challenges to how one sees herself. Not to mention the internal dialogue; I don't think one can honestly say that what you think about yourself doesn't matter at all. I admire people who say they "die daily," but I confess I haven't figured out how to do that yet.

Throw into this whole mix the fact I am having a baby right around my 30th birthday. Talk about complicating the issue! In some ways, that fact validates my previous feelings about "who I should be" by this age and, in others, it completely obliterates them. It's a classic paradigm of asking for something, then getting it and realizing the circumstances of the gift are not ideal (meaning, not what you were asking for). So, you're essentially just as surprised as you would've been getting something completely different than your request. Back to square one...

Not to get too epistemological here or anything but.. a huge part of my current self-confusion stems from not knowing how to think about what I think. Which are valid concerns and which are the product of a sinful nature? And, even if they are the product of sin, shouldn't they still be considered, in order to understand how I relate to Christ?

Here's what I've come up with so far in my thinking:

1. I am someone else in Christ, specifically someone new.
2. I should listen to/read as much as I can about Christ so I understand who He is.
3. I should try my hardest, despite internal objections, to remain hopeful that, some day, I will know "who I am."

I may come back to this topic over the next couple weeks, after the baby is born, and maybe also in a year or so. I am not advocating a "m.o.s." ("moral of the story") or "do something" attitude about this either. If one gains nothing else from learning Reformed theology, one should at least know that one cannot do anything for God; that He has done it all for us. That's the purpose of His work!

September 13, 2010

The Politics of Writing

Not that you asked, but I've always wanted to write a book.

In high school it was going to be poetry (eek, I'm so glad that didn't work out!).

In college, maybe only haiku. Or maybe a collection of interviews with the elderly on their
favorite memories (that's still not a bad idea).

Later on, still feeling the art influence in my bones, it was a narrative about how the art one produces is a malfunctioning expression of joy, which can only truly be felt within Christ's grasp. (Again, not a bad idea... please don't steal it!)

What stopped me? It's not a lack of interest. I clearly like writing (even if I am sporadic about it), I loved editing articles for my college newspaper. I love the English language and grammar - I have since grade school. It's not for lack of things to say. And plenty of people get published, since there are more small publishing houses and easy ways to promote your title. So what's the problem?

It's my inconsistency. I know what I want to say, but I struggle with staying on track and tend to bring in too much information at some points, too little on others.

I have scores of disorderly ideas sitting in spiral-bound notebooks, waiting patiently for good editing to pull them all together into a cohesive, meaningful piece of writing. Someday I hope to go through all of it and make something substantial enough to present to the public. Until then I'll hide on my blog, where no one can tell me I'm completely disillusioned as to having a clue what I'm talking about.

There is something utterly terrifying, though, about putting your own writing into the world-at-large, even if it's only the "blogosphere." One reason is that, unlike your friends and family, a stranger might actually critique you. Harshly. Fairly, but harshly. Another is that the thoughts you believe to be so trenchant might turn out to be... vapid. Worse, it may turn out that someone has already had them, and said them better. Worst: by the time you get around to putting them into writing they might be irrelevant! And to the non-fiction/social science/political publishing realm, relevance is key.

Which brings us to Meghan McCain's book, "Dirty, Sexy Politics."

Disclosure: I haven't read it myself; I don't plan to. I've heard enough of what comes out of her mouth via "The View" clips and her weekly Daily Beast column to know that she is pretty confused about how to advise the Republican party (which is, I think, what she strives to do, although in attempting to do so she meanders all over the board). Her youth and inexperience, combined with a (seeming) disregard for speaking in a clear, comprehensible way, come through in neon to anyone who's attempted to glean wisdom from her writing. She's damaging to the Republican party, as well as conservative voters and politicians, because she purports to know about that which she doesn't. Oh, and she's also not a conservative.

What's my purpose in mentioning her book then, if not to do a review? It's merely to point out that some people weren't meant to write books. Meghan McCain is one of them. And why?

She's too deep inside her own head to be careful about what she writes.* Meghan makes a lot of accusations which seem, almost all of the time, to be for the purpose of stirring the pot. But who's meant to be stirred? Why, moderate Republicans and conservatives of all types (but especially those with strong enough hard-line values to be ranked as "far right" by Meghan), of course. Meghan's main beef seems to be with anyone labeling themselves a 'Republican' who doesn't satisfy her own ideas about what that means. But.. they can't be too conservative or too moderate, because that makes them RINOS.

Knowing that I was too naive and loose with my worldview is what kept me from writing a book years ago. And I recognize that I'm still not ready to do that, because I'm not discerning enough to see through all the bs in politics and form a valid and valuable overview to disseminate to others. I'm merely at the point of seeing everything that's going on - but not able to put it all together a lot of the time, let alone draw insightful conclusions. Yet Meghan McCain went straight from college to "professional blogging," probably due in no small part to name recognition, but more so to her willingness to ride the "I'm not your typical conservative" bus until the wheels fall off.

But not only does she not seem like a "typical conservative" (whatever that even means), she doesn't seem like much of a conservative at all. The only issue I've heard her mention often is gay rights. She will start sentences with, "If Reagan were alive, he would..." without validating her opinions with any facts, and never questions her own commentary on any subject.

Yet, she is now a published author and I'm still not. Oh well. I'd rather be an unpublished, self-aware, non-pro blogger who can comfortably assert my conservative allegiance than anything less.

*I know what you're thinking... "Um, couldn't you say the same about yourself?" Yes, but that's why I stick to blogging, instead of imagining my opinions to be so important that someone should pay money to read them.

Because I'm happy to give credit when someone says it better than me, here is an excellent book review of "Dirty, Sexy Politics." And yes, he did actually read the book first. Poor fellow.


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