Monday, February 25, 2008

A Few Minutes on a Soapbox

It's campaign time. You've probably seen or heard about the email attacks targeted at Barack Obama. Before that became a public debate topic, I received a few different versions of it in my inbox. I clicked delete as usual the first couple of times, but this one hit a nerve, so I responded. The subject line was...

Can a good Muslim be a good American?

Here is how it began:

Theologically - no. . . Because his allegiance is to Allah, The moon God of Arabia.
Religiously - no. . . Because no other religion is accepted by His Allah except Islam (Quran,2:256) (Koran)
Scripturally - no. . . Because his allegiance is to the five Pillars of Islam and the Quran.
Geographically - no. . . Because his allegiance is to Mecca , to which he turns in prayer five times a day.

After a long litany of other bullet points, the conclusion was this:

Therefore after much study and deliberation, perhaps we should be very suspicious of all Muslims in this country.

They obviously cannot be both 'good' Muslims and good Americans.

I'll spare you the rest of the details, but a similar e-mail is described fully here. Here is my reply:

Dear Sister in Christ,

I've seen this forward before. It is interesting, but I wonder if you couldn't say the same things in similar ways about Christians--our citizenship is not of this world, and we declare our purpose to be that of establishing a heavenly kingdom. If we can question Muslims' ability to show patriotism on the basis of these statements, wouldn't they also have grounds to question ours? And why would we promote the building of walls of suspicion against our Muslim neighbors rather than the bridges of love that Jesus taught us to extend? To protect ourselves, rather than trusting Him to be our Protector as we take risks to make Him known?

There is a video of Barack Obama's response to the allegations of emails such as this at the end of this article (same as the link above).

I'm very concerned that the credibility of Christians, and our ability to impact our society for the kingdom of God, is undermined when we spread condemning allegations in the face of very public evidence to the contrary. I am not in any way endorsing Barack Obama as a presidential candidate, but I will say that the only God I have heard Obama honoring in this campaign is the God of the Bible. See his testimony (along with faith statements from the other candidates and links to more information) in this overview. I can't argue for or against the authenticity of Obama's faith, but since the fact is that he was sworn into the senate on a Bible and has led them in the Pledge of Allegiance, the rest of the claims of this email (which states that Obama was sworn in on a Koran and refuses to salute the flag or say the Pledge) and others like it are also in question. And we can be sure that as one who professes to be our brother in Christ, and simply by virtue of the impact he has as a government leader, he needs our prayers.

I hope you'll take this in the right way and not as a criticism. I've had others challenge me on things that I've sent, and honestly it stung a little, but I'm grateful that they cared enough. I've been convicted about really thinking through what I send along to people, and about the impact that our email activity has on our witness. I wouldn't bother responding to anyone that I didn't think cared about that too, and I know you do!


I don't fear the possible implications of a Barack Obama presidency nearly as much as I fear that Christians are so busy letting the world know what we are against that the world will never know the One who is FOR them! Please, Christian friends, let's love our neighbors lavishly, pray for our leaders, and live securely and joyfully in the belief that our great God is the provider, protector and Savior that we love to proclaim that He is.

One more thing. If someone sends you an e-mail that is intended to cause alarm or get you riled, PLEASE check out its validity at before you hit forward. Just type the subject of the e-mail in the search bar. This simple practice has made me better informed, and saved me some embarrassment.

There it is. The closest I'll probably ever get to making a political statement on this blog. I'm getting off my soapbox now. And as always, comments are welcome!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

My little girl is growing up!

Bethany was invited to a birthday party today. She was too excited. She wanted to plan her outfit right away when she got up. Next the hair. She knew exactly how she wanted to wear it. She got that squared away, and it was time to make a card. She headed straight for the fancy scissors in the craft room. She let me give her some ideas, but there was no question whose card this was. Then it was time to write the message. She decided just what to write. She didn't even ask how to spell anything. Not once. It was perfect. She was all set...she was BEAUTIFUL.

I went to pick her up after the party, and the birthday girl's mom commented on how cute she was. Seriously, she said. They were all really good, but Bethany is SOOO sweet. I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks so.


You may have noticed that lately there are a lot of pictures of the inside of our house. Cabin fever! Every year around this time, the swimsuits and beach towels mysteriously show up in our living room. This year it took the form of a surfing contest. Click on the play arrow, and join us at the beach!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Parenting Update

It's time for a book commercial, for a book that I have loved and hated. Reading Parenting With Love and Logic with my husband has really helped us get our minds around some of the thoughts about parenting that we were exploring here and here, namely how to let our kids start taking more responsibilities for themselves. This book is the ultimate "how to" for doing just that. For this, we are grateful.

I have sometimes hated this book for telling me what I already know--that my previous practices have had some woeful shortcomings. It seemed like they kept rubbing my nose in this (without coming right out and saying it), when here I was, looking to them to help make me better. Ironically, this helped me see my kids' position and empathize with them. What they need from me is compassion and help, not another voice to tell them what they've done wrong. They already know. They need us to support them as they figure out what they're going to do about it.

We've had some awesome successes! Our relationships with our kids have been blessed. And sometimes we don't look much different from before. Old habits die hard. But we ARE getting better. Hallelujah! We recommend it.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

True Love

I love Valentine's Day. It was my favorite day at school when I was a teacher. Every child had a chance to feel truly loved by his or her class. Such excitement.

Today I went and had a Valentine's lunch date with each of the kids at school. It was so much fun. Then they headed back to class for their parties, and came bursting in from the bus with all their cards. But there's more than cards now, if you haven't done kids' Valentines lately. There's candy. And tattoos. They love every bit of it.

Ben wins the "True Love" award with the Valentine letter he wrote to Bethany at school. In case you can't read it, here is what it says:

Dear Beth I love you more than playing on our dance mat hooked up to the T.V. I love you more\ than eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on june 21st at noon. I love you more than challenging math problems at school.

Now that's love!!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Little House on the Tundra

This was one of those days when they tell you on the weather not to go out unless you absolutely have to because your skin would freeze from two seconds of exposure (or something like that).
So we hunkered down in our warmest clothes and did the things that we never get around to. Lee and Ben built a 500 piece puzzle (we girls helped a little), while Bethany and I worked on a little quilt for her stuffed animals. And of course we had to do a little baking and read some books and play a few games. As I taught Bethany how to use a needle and thread, I felt like we were a page out of Little House on the Prairie. Thank goodness we have indoor plumbing!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Dude, they don't pay you enough!

This morning I was out and about, looking for an opportunity to see what my new 10x zoom could do for me.  I didn't have to look far.  This guy was right outside the store I was in, doing his best to drum up some business for the Liberty Tax people.  So I drove across the street where I could be inconspicuous and gave my little camera a workout.  But not as good of a workout as this guy was getting.  I hope his supervisor was driving by incognito every so often.  At 24 degrees on a dreary day, he deserves a raise!

Lord, help me work this hard to represent you well, whether everyone is watching or no one is watching. It's so good to know that with you no effort is wasted, because you are the God who sees.