Sunday, October 29, 2006


Here's the good picture of Jake... We took about 10, and he hated every single one except this one. :) I would have done exactly the same thing... "No way anybody's seeing this one!" "My hair!" "My nose!" We're all so self critical! Oh, well. I like this one best, too.

Jake & Abigail

After she wakes up from her nap Abigail wants to be cuddled for a while... Sometimes she'll be still, but mostly she's just a wiggly bundle of baby.


This is my youngest.
I was delighted to get a picture of her with her eyes open, most of the time she's reacting to the flash..


This is my oldest...
I trimmed her fingernails right after this picture, which is a good thing 'cuz she scratches her face when they're too long.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Snow in October

Here's a picture out our back window... My first blog photo! Woo-hoo! As you can clearly see, we got snow. Pretty white fluffy snow. This snow will stay around until right about Easter, and then one of our yearly Fairbanks traditions is a light dusting of Easter snow. Last year we probably got around 15 ft of snow by the end of the winter- I don't actually know how much it was, I'm just making a guess...
Tonight when we drove home around 9 o'clock the reader board at Fred Meyer read -2 F. It begins... YUCK!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Stop right now

As a parent, you find yourself "working" on things every week with your kids. Last week it was being polite- saying "thank you", "please", and "may I". The week before it was throwing things if her sister tried to take them away. Deborah has a lovely habit of flinging something across the room without looking if Abigail tries to take it away from her.

This week it's stopping immediately whatever she's doing when we say "stop". This is a big deal. I know it's sounds like a minor thing, but right now we have to yell at Deborah to get her to stop doing something. And even then she wants to know WHY she has to stop.

While we were on vacation last summer we had a major yuck thing happen with the "stop". We were halfway through Canada the night after our tire blew, and Jake insisted on getting the blown out tire fixed immediately. (which we all agreed with... too scarey to be on a long road trip with no spare tire) So, we were stuck in this little town while they fixed the tire. Jake was with the tire guy, Beth & Mom ran across the road to the bank, and Deborah & I were wondering around looking at the sites. And she took off running from me. I was 7 months pregnant, and chasing a fast three year old... Yelling, SCREAMING "stop" while she starts running across this street. No traffic in sight, but I'm a panicky mom. I couldn't get a hold of her arm, 'cuz she was laughing and twisting and turning and running... So I knocked her over. Yup, I swiped my arm out and just knocked her over. She fell, and was crying. I picked her up and held her so tight, and I was yelling at her. And then the car goes roaring by us, going too fast for the little town...

So, the 'stop' is a BIG deal, and she still hasn't gotten it. I want her to understand that just 'cuz she doesn't know WHY I'm telling her to stop doesn't mean she doesn't have to stop. Try explaining that to a 3 year old...

Monday, October 23, 2006

Follow up on Beth's job interview

JoAnn's has an employee that wants to teach the floral design classes, and they have a policy of using their own employees to teach before pulling in outside contractors. They would have hired Beth, but they have to use the other woman first. I couldn't believe Beth was actually going to an interview. She's wanted to before and made appointments and then missed them. Now she'll probably NEVER try it again... Really LAME.
Please pray she finds something even better and that she's willing to try again. Thank you.

God, I don't know what to pray for Beth. Please help her find something that she can do and enjoy and make money doing. She's such a talented artist. Please bless her. Please make a profound change for the better in her life.

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas

and a white Valentine's and a white Easter...

We got about three inches over the weekend and it's simply beautiful. Big fluffy flakes resting on tree branches and soft glistening drifts spread over the ground. I like the first falls of the season- clean and white. Unmarred by traffic or little yellow spots of dog pee...

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The big 35

Today was my birthday. I am now 35... Woo-hoo! Happy birthday to me... Happy birthday to me...

For some reason this one just doesn't hit me like 33 did. I don't know... The year that Jesus died... My first baby... Being so sick... My baby being sick... Moving to Fairbanks again... dark, cold, nasty winter... my Dad dying... 33 was a hard year.

Today, Beth & I got to do the first Christmas bazaar of the season here. We've been doing one or two bazaars every year for the last three years. We both work with beads, and have sold some stuff. Beth in particular does well at the bazaars. She makes these incredible pins- butterflies, bees, dragonflies, spiders. They're beautiful and unique. I think I've finally found something unique that I really enjoy- wirework and beads... It seemed like I had pretty much the same stuff as the other beaders in town who were trying to sell, so you just had to find something that was your color or that matched an outfit or tickled your fancy. Now I have something unique that actually sold well today... And nobody else had anything like it. (Grr! One of the beaders from last year had copied Beth's dragonflies! We were enraged! I guess imitation is the highest form of flattery, but really, come on, she should have taken the IDEA and created something else with it, not just straight copied what Beth does... ) We're hoping to do at least one more of the local bazaars this year. We'll see. We'd really like to have a website that sells our beadwork, but since neither one of us does html, and neither one of us is interested in learning html.... The start up cost of paying somebody is SO expensive. Maybe one day...

Jake gave me a digitial camera for my birthday! He'd been saving for a while, plus used his employee discount on a double discount day at Fred Meyer's... This means I'll finally be able to post some pictures of my beautiful babies, and my Jake! And my paintings, and beadwork, and the snow... Ha, ha! a new toy to make art with! So, I'm gonna play around a bit tomorrow. Expect to see pictures here soon! (Gracious... What a great deal of exclamation points are in this last paragraph... I admit I had chocolate after dinner... a big no-no for an insomniac. Plus, I'm a little wired from a good day... And possibly strung out on lack of sleep and too much caffeine.)

Plus, I have a digital camera!!! I've wanted one since... well, for a long time. I love my 35 mm. I love taking pictures with it.. (Side note: Did you know some companies are going to phase out making 35 mm film in 2007!! Jake read that in a magazine..) Anyway, I admit you can do more with pictures you've got on your computer. I got spoiled working for the church in Seattle. They had their own camera and I used it to create the church newsletter, which I LOVED writing and editing. Obviously, I write too much. In fact, I'm writing too much now! Okay, I'm going to bed now. I'm going to get up from the computer and go lay down. Good night! Happy Birthday to me... Happy Birthday to me.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Yes & No

I am reading Philip Yancey's Soul Survivor: How My Faith Survived The Church. Excellent book, and I want to comment more on it later, but I have to share what I just read. Each chapter is about a person who inspired Yancey's faith in some way. His 11th chapther is about Frederich Buechner, a writer and Presbyterian minister... I want to share this quote from one of Buechner's novels, because it's profound to me.

If you tell me Christian commitment is a kind of thing that has happened to you once and for all like some kind of spiritual plastic surgery, I say go to, go to, you're either pulling the wool over your own eyes or trying to pull it over mine. Every morning you should wake up in your bed and ask yourself: "Can I believe it all again today?" No, better still, don't ask it till after you've read "The New York Times, till after you've studied that daily record of the world's brokenness and corruption, which should always stand side by side with your Bible. Then ask yourself if you can believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ again for that particular day. If your answer's always Yes, then you probably don't know what believing means. At least five times out of ten the answer should be No because the No is as important as the Yes, maybe more so. The No is what proves you're human in case you should ever doubt it. And then if some morning the answer happens to be really Yes, it should be a Yes that's choked with confession and tears and ...great laughter. (From The Return of Ansel Gibbs, by Frederick Buechner)

Friday, October 20, 2006

Life is war

Read this at Matt Tullos' site. Loved it. Copied it. (Matt is another Company person, he graduated from Southwestern & now works for Lifeway. He is one of my writing role models- I got to take one writing seminar from him at a Lifeway creative conference. ) Matt's site:

"Life is war. That's not all it is. But it is always that...But most people do not believe this in their hearts. Most people show by their priorities and their casual approach to spiritual things that they believe we are in peacetime, not wartime...Very few people think that we are in a war that is greater than World War II, or than any imaginable nuclear war. Few reckon that Satan is a much worse enemy than any earthly foe, or realize that the conflict is not restricted to any one global theater, but is in every town and city in the world. Who considers that the casualties of this war do not merely lose an arm or an eye or an earthly life, but lose everything, even their own souls, and enter a hell of everlasting torment? Until we feel the force of this, we will not pray as we ought. We will not even know what prayer is...Prayer is the communication with headquarters by which the weapons of warfare are deployed according to the will of God...Prayer is the walkie-talkie of the church on the battlefield of the world in the service of the word. It is not a domestic intercom to increase the temporal comforts of the saints. It malfunctions in the hands of soldiers who have gone AWOL. It is for those on active duty. And in their hands it proves the supremacy of God in the pursuit of the nations. When missions move forward by prayer it magnifies the power of God. When it moves by human management it magnifies man.
John Piper, Let the Nations Be Glad

Third Culture Kids

"The Third Place is a term used in the concept of community building to refer to social surroundings separate from the two usual social environments of home and the workplace." from Wikipedia

Thanks to Marty (Renztzman) for this term... I love it. Another place other than home & work that feels like a heart home... I haven't experienced a place like this in a LONG time. It reminded me of some of the relationships in Company, and in BCM while I was in college.

It also reminded me of a term that Donna Smith, my missionary friend from college who is now a teacher in Papua/New Guinea, had shared with me. (although right now she's on furlough and taking classes in CA. I got to see her last month after 4 years of only spotty correspondence! She's got the best stories... visiting Europe & New Zealand & Australia & Africa... )

Anyway, back to the term: third culture kids. These are kids that grew up with one culture in their homes, experienced another one surrounding their homes, and had to integrate the two cultures into a completely unique one- their own "third culture". Examples: an army kid living in Korea attending a Korean school, an MK living in Brazil, a Japanese kid whose family has just immigrated to the U.S. and speaks & lives the same as they did in Japan at home but is required to speak English in school.

My husband and I both qualify for this term. When I was 10, my family moved to Kotzebue for my Dad's job. Kotzebue is an Eskimo (Inupiaq) village north of the Arctic circle on the Bering Sea, and I was one of about 5 white kids in the 50 or so kids in 7th-8th grade. I had a very difficult time with this move, but now I look back at this time as a blessing, even a gift. I know very few caucasian kids growing up in the U.S. who've had the experience of being the only white kid in a class. I've been a minority, and a disliked one at that. In the 80's a lot of anger was directed at the white population in Alaska for the destruction they had indirectly and directly caused to the native lifestyle and culture... I bet you can't guess when we lived in Kotzebue... ('83-'85) Because of this experience I can more easily step into someone else's shoes. I have a fascination for different cultures, and a deep appreciation for the value of heritage.

My husband's experience is opposite: Jake grew up in the home of a Norwegian immigrant to the U.S. His dad is from Norway and came here in his 20's. Jake's mom is part Norwegian and part Polish, and grew up speaking Norwegian with her parents and relatives. Their family moved back to Norway in '78 and lived there just over a year when he was 3 & 4. Jake remembers speaking to his family over there, and didn't realize until he was in high school that he'd been speaking Norwegian at the time... He's got all these funny gaps in things I take for granted: folk songs, nursery rhymes, "American" culture.

Third culture kids tend to take longer to find their place in life... They tend to take longer to make some big life decisions, like who they're going to marry, or what their major occupation will be... Many find safety in staying in higher education (pursuing M.A.'s or P.H.D.'s). Some lean towards living in a different place than their family is from, because they feel like an outsider to their own culture... Example: the white guy who "goes native", marries an Indian girl and lives in the village the rest of his life. While others react by becoming deeply engrossed in their family's home culture. Example: the MK who becomes a suit, a lawyer or doctor, and spends his life attempting to amass the most wealth possible.

Third culture kids tend to feel rootless and restless, always ready to move on to the next thing, but never sure where there home actually is. They tend to have problems trusting authority figures, and can experience confused loyalties in their cultural identity. There are times when I feel more Indian/Eskimo than white, and I went through a time period when I hated being blonde, being white. I wanted to have dark hair and dark skin and brown eyes... I wanted the richness of the storytelling and the beauty of the masks to be mine... Not just something I enjoyed that belonged to other people...

Third culture kids tend to have a real view of the pain of life- they can relate to the mother whose child is dying in Somalia, and know that her pain is the same as the mother losing her child here in the U.S. They like to know what is going on in the whole world and are aware that every person's experience & viewpoint is just as valid as their own...

Here's one of the big ones for me- they tend to have problems making decisions... They had been asked to make decisions in the past and then that decision was taken away from them, so they learn that there is no power in actually deciding. (Example: I had expected to get to be in a school musical in CA before moving to AK, but when we moved I lost the chance. Then, while I was in Kotzebue I was able to take band for two periods, so I was learning clarinet & flute. When we moved to Fairbanks, I had to choose. ) In effect, I learned it didn't matter what I chose, the choice would be made for me, or even completely taken away, so why bother choosing...

There are some great benefits to being a third culture kid, as well as some challenges... Learning the term helped me identify some of what was going on in my head and heart. It helped me identify why it was so hard for me to make decisions, and why it made me so angry when people around me would make comments about people from other cultures, why I often felt outside of what was going on around me, why I was always attracted to & made friendships with immigrants- Africans, Mexicans, South Americans...

So, I'm still working on my own "Third culture"... And I'm enjoying learning some of my husband's third culture...

May I take your order?

My 3-year-old daughter has been a tad bit demanding as of late, and we've been working on the social correctness of "please", "thank you", and "May I"... Recently my Mom was talking to her about her bossiness:

Grammy: "Honey, I expect you to be kind, and you may not order people around."
Deborah: "Except in a restaurant! I have to give an order there, Grammy!"

You've got to be quick around the little ones. They look cute and adorable, but they'll eat you alive...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Beth's Job Interview

My sister, Beth has a job interview tomorrow, Thursday at 1 p.m. Alaska time (one hour behind Pacific). Please pray for her if you see this before her interview. She hasn't had a job since '98 when she worked at Blockbuster and lived with me in Texas. She's nervous, but will do well.

She'll be interviewing for a teaching position at JoAnn's. I've been teaching their jewelry/beading classes for about a year and she's hoping to teach their floral design classes. It's a fun creative atmosphere, and would allow a gradual entry to the job market. I teach about three or four classes a month for 2-5 students and make commission on the amount they pay for the classes.

Although I am required to teach JoAnn's sometimes ugly, sometimes cute and sometimes/rarely beautiful designs, I have learned some new techniques. I find working within the limits allows me to develop fun and creative new ideas. And I love working with the students. (mostly adults, sometimes teenagers, every once in a while a 4th-6th grader) Their ideas always inspire creative ideas & designs.

Anyway, we're hoping that Beth can get this job, since we're all sure she would really enjoy it.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

It Snowed Today!!!


Yup, all over the ground and it's still there even though it's noonish. Probably a quarter of an inch. Very pretty. A light dusting of white powder on the grass and road. Looks like it will stick (Alaskan for 'stay all winter'). Isn't that dreadful?

There's going to be snow on the ground til next March or April... Don't get me wrong... I like snow. Just not snow for 6 or 7 months. Snow in Fairbanks. Ugh.

It's going to get mounded up, pushed off the road and eventually piled into six foot drifts that could swallow my husband... (Side note: we regularly get notices from the post office requiring us to maintain access to our mail box... Bet you've never received a notice telling you to keep the snow out of the way of the mail carrier!) Sadly, snow in Fairbanks is so dry you can't make snowmen or anything fun. It's so dry it just falls apart if you try and pack it together. You can melt it a little with the warmth of your hand, but then it just makes dangerously hard snow/ice balls.

Ugh. I'm not ready for winter... But I am looking forward to Christmas. Never realized how much more fun Christmas would be with kids... I'm gonna make it. Winter doesn't last forever. Just a very long time.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Religion & Politics

I am finally going to rant a little about this.

For the last three years I've been a member of a predominantly military church. Almost 75% of the membership were armed service employees, and I had very good friends who were either military wives or women soldiers. I had never been part of a church with this membership base, so it was a new experience for me. Since I grew up here in Fairbanks I knew soldiers, even dated one once. But I had never really spent so much time with a large group of Christian military.

My big complaint/problem/stumbling block for these last three years has been the amount of "God & Country" I heard repeated over and over and over... Like the U.S. is the only country God is present in or blesses. Politics were discussed in church like there was ONLY ONE way to vote or believe. And if I said something in opposition I was "blaspheming God".

Do not hear me saying Christians don't belong in politics. I want Christians in Washington, D.C. Heavens, I want Christians in Hollywood, in New York, in Nashville, in our schools, in universities, in local government, in every industry and art form. I want us to infiltrate our country like salt & seasoning mixed through an entire course of a fabulous meal. I want us making a difference- I want us shining our light in the darkest places- government, entertainment, education, journalism- everywhere that directly influences how we think & how we make decisions.

However, I don't want my pastor or sunday school teacher telling me how I should vote. I vote. And I do vote as a Christian- I am a Christian- Of course, I vote as a Christian. How else could I vote? My beliefs impact every choice I make. But I probably don't vote the same as every Christian I know. And I'm not sure that I should... I vote as God leads me. I vote as my intelligence and understanding guides my choices. I vote to the best of my ability. I research and read about the candidates and measures. I listen to the debates. I ask my husband and my Mom, and anybody else I respect what they think. But, I don't always agree with them. This is one of the precious ideals these military men and women are fighting for- the right to disagree.

I pray for my president and congress and senate, but I'm not sure I want my church telling me exactly how I should pray... If I'm truly praying "Thy will be done on earth here as it is in heaven", then I can trust God to know what's best for everyone, and to guide me. And while it is true God allows countries to be in power and that He places leaders, I know He allows things to happen that are evil. He works them out for the good of those who love Him and are called, but that doesn't mean leaders don't make mistakes. I do not know everything these leaders know. I can second guess them all I want, but I am not there making the decisions they are making...

I don't know... I guess all I was really tired of, was our church acting like politics SHOULD be a part of every worship service, and that our country was the only one in God's right. If you look at history, no country has been entirely correct. Even amazing Godly leaders make mistakes. One of the weird things about attending seminary is that I saw the men and women called by God and training to be pastors and church leaders as human. I saw the mistakes they made in their personal lives, in their relationships, in their homework... Even being called and blessed by God does not make you infallible. It just makes you guided by someone greater than yourself.

I want our politics guided by something greater than us. But I'm tired of hearing that our country doesn't make mistakes, that our leaders don't make mistakes, that the U.S. is infallible... That God has established our country as the one true and right way...

I'm scared of the Christian Right- of the political power this group of "Christians in politics" have to persuade people that God wants them to believe & vote a certain way. I hate the way this group goes off about homosexuals, unwed mothers, the plight of the family, the education system and Satan in Iraq... I have friends who are gay, friends who are unwed mothers, friends who are divorced... I was a teacher in the school system, I know a lot of teachers, and I'm not sure Satan's power isn't evident everywhere, including the U.S. ...

I'm afraid that once you hop up on your soap box and start screaming to the masses, the masses become faceless... Each individual person's story and situation starts blending into one big hodge-podge of 'evil' humanity that must be stopped... or converted... It's so easy to start protecting yourself from the reality of the pain that many people live in, and the reality of trying to make choices in that situation... God sees every situation, every face, every broken heart. When people start preaching politics in church, I think we lose sight of the way that God looks at us. Of how lost and broken each individual really is... How much each heart desperately needs Christ. It's too easy to slip into being angry at people who don't believe exactly the way you do, and start picking over piddly little issues, like how many angels can dance on the end of a pin.

Come on people! What does God care about? "Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart." Look at Jesus. Did he get involved in the religious politics of his day? No, he condemned them, and tried to reach out to the women and men who were being destroyed by them- the woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, Zaccheus the tax collector.

I do think God calls people into politics because with a heart focused on being obedient to God you can make a difference there. But I'm not sure He calls the church as a body into politics...

Anyway, there's my rant for the week... Part of me wants to apologize for going off, but that really is what I believe. I really am tired of being told what I should believe about my president and my country. I've thought about this for three years, and avoided hurting dear friends. Stepping back out of the situation, I now believe that my opinion on this subject would have been respected. I think many of the Christians in my military church would have disagreed with me on this subject, but they wouldn't have flipped out or openly mocked me... They might not have discussed politics with me again, but I probably would have been okay with that. :)

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, and Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Not Sleeping

I slept for two hours this afternoon. Jake came home from work around 4:30 and I went upstairs with him. He was changing out of his Fred Meyer costume (no hanky-panky, people, or at least nothing you should be embarassed about). I don't really remember him leaving the room... I remember laying down. I remember pulling a blanket up over me. That's it. Next thing I know, I'm looking at the clock and it's 6:42. And no, Jake didn't miraculously make dinner. (Although he did leave me alone, and he did take Deborah for a ride, so thank you's to him for letting me sleep). My mom watched Abigail, and when I got up I threw together some spaghetti, and we all scarfed it up.

I didn't sleep last night till around 5ish, and after the nap I won't be sleeping tonight till around 6 a.m...
Oh, well, the nap was really nice and I felt better... It's amazing how irritable I am after only three or four hours of sleep... Particularly when it's only three or four hours every night for the last week...

April sent me an article about insomnia, and the fascinating thing (at least to me) I learned is that if you have one or two nights of difficulty falling asleep in a week, you are technically an insomniac. So, there has probably never been a week of my life when I didn't qualify as an insomniac. Lovely.

Mom's got horror stories of walking the floor with me as an infant... (Abigail's difficulty sleeping didn't just pop out of nowhere.) If I follow a very specific routine before I go to bed it helps me relax and settle down usually. Not lately, though. I haven't really slept since the whole mess with our pastor and his wife... I am pathetic. Beth tells me I'm not pathetic, just sad.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

X-Men: The Last Chapter

So, I finally got to see the X-Men movie. Somehow in the middle of ear tubes and lack of sleep I missed it coming to the theatre up here... And one of the fairly lame things about Fairbanks is that there is only one movie theatre, so if you miss it there, you just miss it till it comes out at Blockbuster.

I enjoyed it. I hear there were a lot of complaints and people saying it wasn't as good as the last two. Don't know. No, it wasn't as good as the other two, still I loved it. I'm glad we got the Phoenix story-line in movie format. Hugh Jackman still does an excellent Wolverine. And whatever you think about Halle Berry, I like her Storm.

I do have a couple of comments/complaints:

First, did the producers decide there weren't enough minorities represented in the last two movies? The new bad guy/Magneto henchmen were latino, asian, or east indian transvestite types... Very odd. They must have decided they needed to reach a broader demographic... And one of the new hero-guys was this very blond dude with white wings... I'm not liking this whole white vs. brown thing they kind of had going... And this SO does not reflect the comic book.

Second, every time I've seen Leech drawn he's green and not quite human... Kind of Salamanderish. Why did they make him totally normal except bald? And rather pretty on top of that? Weird. Were they trying to keep the average viewer sympathetic to him? If done right, he's kinda cute, in a weird monkey/lizard way. So why not leave him alone?

SPOILER. Do not read this paragraph or the next one if you haven't seen the movie!
Third, in my opinion Phoenix wasn't scarey enough. I really didn't believe that the only answer was for Wolverine to kill her. Now if you've read the comics, you know she has enough power to rip the planet, even the universe apart, but the Phoenix you saw in the movie just wasn't that out of control... (okay, so she was from another dimension, and not human, and totally freaking scarey in the comic, but I'm not even touching that. For the average viewer I think the whole freaky id thing was enough) Come on, though. She should have been like ripping magma out of the center of the earth or something... Making the moon come out of orbit. I don't know, but she should have been freaking terrifying.

Fourth, They really shortchangeded Scott's Death. I mean, he's just gone... You're not even sure he's dead until the end when you see his gravestone... He's a pretty important character for them to just throw him away. (Not that I actually like him, but he is important.) Xavier's death was nicely done. Very clear what happened to him, but Scott... He's just gone, poof.

Skip here if you haven't seen the movie.
Fifth, I thought the ending was a little anticlimactic... Yes, I'm glad the students came back, but still, the movie just kind of stopped going. And then the sudden loud slam of music.. We were like, "what was that?" It's over?

Anyway, besides that, I did enjoy the movie quite a bit. I'm sad I only got to see it at home, but that's the way it went this time... I saw the first one while pregnant with Deborah, and will never forget having her kick and roll because of the loud music and special effects. :)

X-Men! Yeah! You rock my world!

Saturday, October 07, 2006


We are LOST fanatics at our house. Oddly, we didn’t discover it on TV, and we didn’t discover it till this last Summer. Beth checked the first DVD out from the library, and it contained the pilot and the next two episodes, and we all got hooked. Over the last couple months we’ve been either checking them out from the library or renting them and then watching one or two episodes most nights so that we’d be prepared to begin this new season with everyone else.

I’m surprised to see a series on TV that has so many things I enjoy- mystery, a little paranormal craziness, group dynamics. The big draw for me though has been the character-driven style. Each episode focuses on the past of one character, and we keep getting more and more pieces of their individual stories. It’s a pleasure to see so much excellent acting.

The big Wuh-lah (Sirevaag for “I’m sad”) of this last week is that we recorded the pilot with only snatches of sound. We had figured out that we could record them each Wednesday night and then watch them after Deborah went to bed. Channel 2 comes in BAD here in Fairbanks for most people, and we didn’t realize how bad our copy was until we sat down to watch it. We could see everything, but hear almost nothing… Wuh-lah!! We got just enough to be very frustrated… I guess we’ll have to figure out what happened from the “from our last episode” notes next week. Plus we’ll probably be buying some new antenna hookup this week.

On the wacky side of things, my husband discovered DARPA this week… On the show there are all these clues about some government/research conspiracy theory type group called the Dharma Initiative. Well, we in the U.S. have our own DARPA, and here’s the facts he dug up about it:

“Quantum computing, a relatively new, forward thinking science, is an integral part of the new experiments in "teleportation." There is a large research effort underway in the U.S. including MIT (Massachussettes Institute of Technology) IBM and other major players in the tech field. Behind this research is DARPA, a truly odd arm of the Department of Defense that invests in radical technologies to eliminate the element of technological surprise in wartime.

DARPA was created by a mandate of President Eisenhower in 1958 after the Russian "Sputnik" satellite scared the crap out of Americans. Since then, DARPA funded research has led to many now commonplace technologies, including the Internet (formerly ARPANET, or DARPA w/o the "D"). Darpa now wants to advance this "teleportation" technology to transfer fully secure information across distances that cannot be intercepted, tampered with or eliminated. They are not trying to move "stuff," but data; physical data that can assist in the process of warfare that gives Americans a lethal advantage over their adversaries. Also under development are urban warfare data collection devices (flying robots) that can assess situations from above, around and inside enemy controlled territory. One unit under development is so small it can "perch" on a roof-top, windowsill, etc. and gather photographic, video and other intelligence information.

Amazing how fear plays such an overwhelming role in scientific development.”

Thank you, Jake, for letting me quote you!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

September Book Reviews

I'm a little late! Oh, well...

Smoke & Mirrors by Tanya Huff -The next in Huff's spin-off series from her Blood Vampire books. These follow Tony in his new TV job. Victor shows up every once in a while. A fun fantasy adventure. Vampires, ghosts, good writing.
Sacred Influence by Gary Thomas -Thomas discusses the way for a wife to influence her husband to become the man she knows he can be... Good book. He's got some good points. I appreciate his emphasis that marriage was not designed by God to make you happy, but to make you holy. I do not appreciate him beginning his book by saying that a woman's identity is best found in Christ (instead of in her husband) and then totally going back on that when he uses Jean-Antoinette (King Louis the whatever's famous commoner mistress) as an example of keeping your husband's attention... She was able to completely construct her life around him and focus all her attention on pleasing him... No children, no pesky dishes to wash, no job to keep up other than being his mistress. How nice for him.
Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz -I enjoy this character- He has the ability or the curse (depends on how you look at it) of being able to see and communicate with the dead... Of course, this gets him into all sorts of trouble, including preventing an apocolyptic-type shootout. This was a re-read for me, and I remembered why I'd liked it so much the first time.
One Door Away from Heaven by Dean Koontz -This one follows three story lines til they converge about two-thirds of the way in. Some humor, some horror, some aliens. A little confusing to follow, a little heavy & dark, but otherwise quite good. This was a re-read for me, and I enjoyed it more this time.
Origin in Death by J.D. Robb -The next one in Nora Roberts futuristic cop thriller/mysteries. I enjoyed this one a lot. Lots of twists and turns. We ended up completely in a different place than I expected.
Wizard's Hall by Jane Yolen -Young adult fantasy novel. Quick fun read. I enjoyed the similarities between this one and Rowling's Harry Potter books. An awful evil sorcerer and a surprise ending.
The Mermaid's Three Wisdoms by Jane Yolen -Interesting reflection on the world of the deaf. I enjoyed her curmudgeony old sailor character.
The Mocking Program by Alan Dean Foster - A futuristic cop thriller. Fascinating world. Foster combines cultures & languages in a spanglish hodgpodge that is confusing at first, but becomes shockingly comfortable. A bit like watching a Shakespeare play- for the first scene you're lost catching up on the old English, and then suddenly you're understanding everything... The mystery is excellent, the action is quick. I really liked this one.
Toilet Training can't remember the author, a pediatric doctor - Useful, 'Nuff said

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

My Reading

I have let God do something to me over the last few months that now is driving me crazy! I have completely given over my reading to Him, and He keeps telling me not to read stuff... Aargh!!!

I had the opportunity the Beth Moore Bible study When Godly People do UnGodly Things with a couple friends, and it was wonderful. If you've never read one of her books or done one of her studies, I highly recommend them. They're excellent. (One note: if you're from the West or Northwest, her hair is a little difficult to overcome... She's from Texas, and as you know, everything in Texas is big, including women's hair. The first time I watched one of her videos, I spent the entire evening after talking to my sister about how shocking her hair is...)

Here's an exceprt from the cover of the book: In the midst of the winds of evil currently blowing in our world today, Christians will do well to remember that the Evil One still lurks, waiting to seduce those who belong to the Lord, seeking to destroy the testimony of their walk with God. Writing with a passion fueled by the biblical warnings of the schemes of Satan's seductive activity and the broken-hearted concern of a teacher who receives countless letters from repentant Christians limping on the road to restoration, best-selling author Beth Moore examines why devoted followers of Christ indeed can and sometimes do fall into the traps of Satan. Delivering dire warnings to Christians to safeguard themselves against Satan's attacks, Beth writes, "We, Christ's church are in desperate need of developing His heart and mind in issues like these."

In the book, she talks about the desires of the roaring lion to exact revenge on God by wreaking havoc on His children, about her own experience with Satan's schemes, and how to deal with the attacks of the enemy. Repentance and restoration is her goal, and the book is excellent. Yeah, it's heavy and dark, but it's fantastic and, as far as I'm concerned, she's right on the money with her interpretation of the rising level of evil angst attacking God's children.

So, anyway, as part of the book she talks about protecting yourself from unGodly influences and making wise and discerning choices about the media we put into our hearts and minds so that we can have seduce-proof lives. I watch very little TV, and very little in the way of movies, just haven't got the time or the money. I'm not making a conscious choice to avoid them. It just hasn't worked out to watch anything. Last movie I saw in the theater was The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. I used to love CSI, and watch it and the missing person show (never can remember the name of the show...) every Thursday night, and I used to be a huge ER and Friends fan, so it's not that I'm thinking TV is bad. I just don't have time.

Anyway, God really convicted me big time about what I read while I was doing the Bible study. He convicted me that I need to be more careful, so I've been letting Him tell me whether or not I can read a book, and it's driving me crazy.

I have NEVER been censored in what I read. I read like a maniac, and I read pretty much every genre there is except true crime stuff and biographies. I love comic books, and have read Witchblade, X-Men stuff, New Mutants... a broad variety of 'em. I read mostly fantasy & sci-fi, but I enjoy other stuff also- horror, mysteries, "popular" authors.... I've now had to put down books 'cuz God tells me to stop. Last time I went to the library I only got 6 books (and 2 were Philip Yancey)! I normally walk out with ten or fifteen... Recently, I got this good fantasy book from the library, Birthright, (can't remember the author), I got 5 or 6 chapters into it and God just said, "Stop", I was like "What?", and he told me (not in words, mind you, but I knew what He was saying), "I told you not to get this one, and you ignored me, now you have to stop after you started." Which I hate doing, and is very hard for me. I know part of why He wanted me to stop- there was a bunch of nazi-feminist stuff and I tend to come out of those books really angry at men in general, and my husband in particular.

Here's the thing: I KNOW that everything God does is for my own good. That when He doesn't want me to read a book, it's 'cuz something in it is bad for me, and will bug me or make me an angry, bitchy woman... But I HATE giving somebody else, even God, control over this. What I read is MY OWN BUSINESS. This is one of those huge big rooms in my house that I really don't want God touching. And I KNOW that's why God wants control of it. He wants to clean it up and protect me from myself. And I don't want Him to. I want to read what I want to read. This is really the closest I get to having an "addiction". This is my escape, where I let off a lot of my angst, where I hid in school when we had to keep moving and I didn't have many friends... This is my safety zone, and God is saying I've got to let Him be my safety zone. Aargh!

So, I'm working on it. I'm trying to let Him have control over this area of my life, and it's hard.

God, I want your way, your will. Giving you control over my reading feels like You are cutting the me out of me. Your cutting is getting down to the bone, and it hurts. But I want Your plan for me, and I want to have my desires be Your desires. God, Help!

Monday, October 02, 2006

POEM: Six People in One House

six people in one house

blankets, books, cans of formula piled in corners
boxes marked 'dishes', 'cassettes' and '6 mo baby clothes' tucked
down in the garage next to piles of greasy car parts and Christmas ornament boxes
table crowded with plates, crayons, paper towels
counters covered and emptied, covered and emptied into
a dishwasher growling at the moaning dryer downstairs
"I don't want to go to bed" wailed over
one person's idea of music bumping and whining over
the whirrrrr of a baby monitor over
the crooning of Slim Whitman picking the guitar upstairs
purple ponies and puzzle pieces
stuffed bears and board books scattered across the living room rug
a cacophony of sights, sounds, smells

I search for one important paper over a period of a week and still don't find it...
6 people in one house is too many
or maybe it's just that 6 people's stuff in one house is too much

Sometimes I go for a quiet walk just to hear the silence of one heart beating
to see the stately organization of 6 symmetrical windows surrounding a blue door
someone serenely walking through their living room
two quiet green prints contemplating one lamplit room
stately shrubs marching down driveways
elegant aspens gracing neatly mown yards

I enjoy chaos- but sometimes 6 people in one house is simply too many
and 6 people's stuff in one house is definitely too much


Addition to original post: My friend April expressed some concern about this post. I want everybody to know that my husband read this long before I put it up for public consumption. I never post anything about him without having him read it. Our relationship is too precious for me to mess it up. We have spoken in our church about this topic before and both feel rather strongly that it needs to be addressed by Christians. Nobody is perfect, certainly not us. So, feel safe, we'll talk to anybody about this post, even if you don't like what we say. :)

* * * * *
A dear friend of mine is leaving her husband. I don’t have answers for this situation, just thoughts… In fact, dear friend, if you are reading this I wasn’t writing specifically for you. I’m writing out of a need for understanding. I feel like I can relate a little to your decision…

This situation makes me so sad... This couple was married two months after Jake & me in 2000. Her reasons for leaving him are completely legitimate. We’re not talking about a “he won’t take out the trash” or “he puts the toilet paper in upside-down” kind of situation, nor are we talking about a “he’s on drugs”, “he beats me”, or “he’s sleeping with prostitutes” kind of situation. However, her reasons are real, and they are serious, and frankly, they are her business.

While marriage has brought me more delight and pleasure than I could have ever dreamed, it has also brought more pain and sorrow than I could have ever imagined. The male mind is still a complete mystery to me, and trying to communicate with it can be an aggravating disaster. I’m quite sure I will NEVER understand the male sex drive, and there are times when I just don’t like my husband. His interests are weird, sometimes disgusting, and trying to understand them is like visiting Mars. (I know, I know, I don’t agree with the whole book, but boy howdy, I have got to admit men ARE from a different planet.) My husband is totally self-focused and selfish. (Okay, okay, so am I, but I’m talking about him right now). Frankly, there are times I want to tell him to just go away. Sometimes I want to pull out my hair and run screaming into the night. And sometimes, I want to pull HIS hair out, break his arms and fingers and then run screaming into the night.

We’ve had two big on-going factors affecting our marriage- the first of these is our financial situation, which we have both caused. Both of us are very unwise with money, and came from families that did not save. We each tend to want to spend whatever money we have, and our current job situation brings in a very small amount. We have disagreements about what we will spend, on what we will spend it, and where the money went. When we agree on something other factors frequently force us to change our plans, which causes us frustration and we frequently take it out on each other.

The other major on-going factor is my husband’s pornography addiction. This has been a huge big deal in our marriage, and I rarely discuss this with people because if they don’t have personal experience with the issue they probably won’t get it at all. This addiction either horrifies them, or they think it’s nothing at all. Neither of those reactions is helpful at all…

There are some very legitimate reasons for his addiction- He was pursued, you might even say “wooed”, by a child molester when he was 13. Part of this wooing involved this man showing him pornography. Although he escaped without any physical damage Jake has emotional and spiritual scars from his experiences with this man. (addition to this story- Somehow Jake's Dad got wind of some of the stuff this guy was showing Jake and talking to him about, went over to this neighbor and beat him up. Jake was pretty much clueless about the guy until then. It is only as an adult that he can clearly see what was going on.)

My husband was married right after he turned 18 to somebody you would not call a “good girl”. I believe she seduced and chased him down because she knew he was one of the few guys around her who would take responsibility for her. Pornography was a part of their life together. After his divorce, he lived with the weight of depression, which led to a rededication and decision to get serious with God. At this time he struggled with his pornography addiction, and had very little success over it. This was the whip that Satan repeatedly used to scourge Jake and convince him that he was worthless, disgusting and would amount to very little. Certainly this would prevent him from ever being pure or serving God.

Like many men, he came to a point where he believed that if he were to get married this problem would go away. When we got married I did not know about this problem, and at first it did go away. But after about 15 or 16 months of married life Jake experienced a series of set-backs which affected his self-image- he was in a serious car accident that totaled his car and forced him to quit his job, he got pneumonia and couldn’t find another job…

At about the same time we had made the decision to get Internet so that I could keep in contact with family and friends. And Jake discovered Internet pornography- free, right there in our home… Because he is the man that he is, he immediately admitted it to me. And I forgave him. And then he admitted it the next day, and I forgave him. And he admitted it the next day, and I realized something more was going on than I could understand or casually forgive. He was ripping my heart out and treating it as if he’d accidentally bumped me in the kitchen. I was viewing it from the point of view of Jesus saying, “If you look at a woman with lust in your heart, it’s adultery.”

To make a long story shorter, we have seen two counselors, one in Fairbanks and one in Seattle, and Jake has been involved with two sex addiction groups, Prodigals in Seattle and Hope Counseling here in Fairbanks. Currently, Jake is having success over this addiction, but it is an on-going process.

I’ve now read about 6 books on the subject- most recently Every Heart Restored from the Every Man series. What I appreciated the most about this book is that they spent about six chapters going over all the reasons that this is NOT the wife’s fault. They talk about the male sex drive, the way men’s brains are wired, and the factors in society that contribute to this problem. Then they talk about how this problem is a couple’s problem because you married him so his problems are your problems, just as your problems are now his problems. (For example, if you were molested before you got married to your husband, he now has to deal with some of the knee jerk reactions that come with being touched in certain ways. Doesn’t mean he caused the problem, but he will have to live with it for the rest of your marriage.) They talk about spiritual warfare and how Satan uses this to defeat men, and explain that in many ways he is a spiritual victim. They also talk about how trust and respect can be separated, that I can still respect him and his position as husband even as my trust in him has been damaged. I had always considered them to be irrevocably tied together.

Recently, I’ve also read the book Sacred Influence by Gary Thomas. What I appreciated the most about this book is his emphasis that God did not design marriage to make us happy, but to make us holy. This is a hard truth. During one of Jake’s relapses, I realized I never wanted to deal with his sex addiction again, and that I was quite ready to just quit. It took a lot for me to let God keep me in this marriage. I was very angry and very negative. It seemed to me that my husband didn’t care at all that his actions were destroying my heart, my respect for him and my trust in him. Jake has been able to slowly regain my trust and he is changing. We both want this relationship to work, and we both have changed to keep it working and strong.

So, back to my friend- her situation is completely different. Their issues are not the same issues we have. Their problems are not the same problems we have. But I can relate to having serious issues in a marriage relationship. Really, in the big picture, the biggest difference between our situation and hers is that her husband does not see any need or problem in their relationship, is unwilling to change in any way, and will not see a counselor or pastor. I don’t know what I would do in her situation. Jake is one of my best friends. I can’t imagine not sharing my hurts with him. I can’t imagine him not taking our relationship seriously, as one of the central parts of his life. We don’t agree on everything, we have issues, but we are working together on our relationship.

God, hold my friend close. Give her your peace and wisdom. You know this situation- Please grant healing for her heart, and direct her steps. Thank you.