Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Farewell, Steve Jobs



iPod. iPhone. iPad. iTunes.


What other revolutionary innovations has the world been deprived of by your untimely demise?

Thank you, Steve Jobs. Well done.

I'm playing a round of Angry Birds on my iPhone in your honor.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Erasing Hell

So in the interest of being fair and balanced I read Francis Chan's rebuttal to Love Wins titled Erasing Hell.

While I agree with almost all of Chan's theology regarding hell his book was very, um...scholarly.  Now I love a good footnote as much as the next person but it doesn't make for compelling reading. 

I think I see the problem.

Bell's book reads like a grand story.  His style is almost conversational.  And if I'm being brutally honest, the God he describes is much more lovable. 

Chan's book contains the traditional teaching on hell that I grew up with.  Probably a lot of you did too.  Hell is a literal place that unbelievers in Christ go when they die and suffer eternal torment as punishment for their unbelief.  While I agree with Chan's interpretation of Scripture, I have to admit that to an average person who maybe didn't grow up with this traditional view, his God could come across as harsh and almost vindictive.

And so the question to explain to a lost world that a loving God can condemn people to eternal punishment.  I'm not suggesting that we have to apologize for God or sugar-coat the Gospel.  But I'm not sure that focusing on avoidance of hell is the best way to persuade unbelievers that Jesus is for them.  And I think maybe that was Bell's point. 

There seems to be a lot of "Christians" out there who love condemning people to hell.  You should read some of the comments on some of the articles I read about Rob Bell.  Many of them are convinced that even though Bell professes Jesus as his Savior and trusts in the redemptive power of the cross Bell is going to bust the gates of hell wide open when he dies because of his differing interpretation of certain Scripture regarding hell.  Really?  I thought trusting Jesus was enough.  You mean we also have to correctly interpret every single Scripture? I mean, have you READ Revelation?!  Now there's a daunting study!  And who decides which interpretation is correct...the Baptists, the Methodists, the Catholics or, heaven forbid, the Mormons?  I'm pretty sure I don't know every thing there is to know about every single Scripture and I've probably gotten some it wrong somewhere along the way.  How about you?  Is my salvation in jeopardy?  Is yours? I choose to believe that Jesus is enough and trust that God will sort out the rest of it in His wisdom and mercy.

I'll just sum it up this way:  Bell's book made me want to immediately start trying to better love God and my neighbor.  Chan's book made me want to hide under my bed in fear.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Love Wins

Rob Bell, founder and pastor of Mars Hill Church in Grandeville, Michigan, ignited a firestorm of controversy with the release of his book, Love Wins.  It seemed that Rob had the audacity to ask some tough questions about heaven and hell that the evangelical community had determined settled.  The response was to immediately condemn not only the book but the author as well.  "Universalist!" they cried.  One noted theologian even seemed to dismiss Rob out of Christianity altogether with his tweet, "Farewell Rob Bell." 

So you know what I did?

I read the book.

And then I read it again.

Because I didn't find anything offensive or shocking about it. 

Sure, there are ideas that I'm uncomfortable with. But I don't think it hurts me to have to rethink those things to be sure why I believe what I believe.  And Rob brings up some hard questions that I've often wondered about myself.  And I like that he doesn't pretend to know all the answers.  I like that he believes Jesus is big enough to handle the tough questions.  I love the God he describes--expansive, mysterious, creative and loving.  A lot of times I think the God the church presents to the world is too small.  Sometimes it feels like the church is telling the world that they have God all figured out.  "Ok, here's how it works.  Do a and don't do b, c, d, and and God will do x for you."  I don't want a God that humans can put into a formula.  And I don't think the world does either. 

So, the bottom line is this:  I liked the book.  I liked that it made me think.  I liked that it made me want to search out the Truth for myself rather than blindly accepting others' interpretations of truth.  Most of all I loved that it made me want to know God better.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Limbo...and not the fun party game


It's been a while.

A lot has happened since my last post on MAY 2nd.  I'll give you a quick run-down in list form.  'Cuz that's how I roll.

  • We finished up Hayley's first year of homeschooling (9th grade).
  • Caitlin finished 5th grade.
  • Wes and I celebrated our 20th anniversary in Jamaica.
  • There was a dramatic and painful ending of a relationship that was very important to me but I survived.
  • I turned 41...and survived that too.
  • Wes got a fabulous new job that he loves.
  • We decided to sell our house and move.
  • We moved half our belongings and are currently living out of boxes but do not have a scheduled closing date on the afore-mentioned house sale.
  • Since we have not moved yet, Hayley has begun another year of homeschooling.
  • Caitlin started middle school and much to her dismay she has to do that book report after all since WE. ARE. STILL. HERE.
  • I agreed to adopt a cat named Toby from the Humane Society but not until we move.  Have I mentioned we are STILL HERE?!
  • I'm still working part-time until...WE MOVE!
So you can see that my life is in limbo...UNTIL WE MOVE.

Monday, May 2, 2011


Osama Bin Laden is dead.

It's been almost ten years since 9/11 and justice has finally been served.  God bless Navy Seal Team Six.  If it exists, which it certainly doesn't.  *wink*

Facebook exploded with posts celebrating Bin Laden's death and Caitlin asked, "Who is Bin Laden and why does the US hate him so much?"

I forget that she was only one year old when the towers fell.   

Hayley was only five years old at the time but was aware of all the news footage.  As her young little mind tried to process all the images of horror that constantly surrounded her, she told me, "Mommy, bad men knocked down those buildings."  Yes, baby girl, yes, they did.

And now their leader has paid for it.

I am celebrating justice today.  However, I am having trouble celebrating the bloodshed even though it was necessary and just.

I am haunted by the images of the hundreds of people filling the streets in front of the White House and in Times Square last night waving flags and chanting, "USA. USA. USA."  Yes, I am so proud of our military.  And I give credit where credit is due...Well done, President Obama.  He made the hard decision to do the right thing.  I also say, "Well done, President Bush" because he promised us that we would have justice and he worked tirelessly for it.  However,  I am reminded of the words in Ezekiel 18:23: "Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked?  Rather am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?" 

So, today I admire the hard work and sacrifice of so many who worked for so long to see justice done.  And I mourn for those who have been lost along the way.  And I celebrate that a bad man has met his just reward.  But I take no pleasure in it. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Post-Season Wrap-Up

Hayley loves basketball.  When we were making the decision to homeschool last spring she was really sad about not being able to play anymore.  Actually, that was the ONLY thing she was sad about giving up. She loved her middle school team. But she decided homeschooling was worth it.  I was very proud of her mature decision but my heart was broken for her to give up the thing she loved.

And then Wes got laid off at work.  In retrospect, this turned out to be the best thing that could have happened.  You think I'm crazy, right?  I'll explain.

I had been looking into homeschool sports options.  Unfortunately Arkansas is not one of the "Tim Tebow" states that allow homeschoolers to play sports with their local public schools.  Therefore, our only option was to find a homeschool co-op.  Unfortunately our town does not have a co-op that offers sports.  The nearest one was about a hour away.  I also discovered a Christian school that welcomed homeschoolers but it was 45 minutes away.  With one child in public school, I knew my schedule wouldn't allow us to commute daily to practices.  And so I gave up.

This is where the unemployment kicked in.  It wasn't unexpected.  Wes has had a long and lucrative career in medical sales but that is becoming an increasingly difficult field to work in. (Thanks, Obamacare!)  And then it dawned on us...Wes now had plenty of time to commute!   And that's how Hayley wound up playing basketball for Hot Springs Christian.  What we could have seen as a great disaster had just turned into the greatest blessing!  Wes was able to spend a couple of hours a day driving with Hayley which gave them lots of time to talk and grow their relationship.  He was free to spend his time helping out at practice which he really enjoyed. 

Hayley had the best year EVER.  Her coach, Bill Vining, Jr., was fabulous!  He's not only a gifted coach but he's a great educator too.  And he really cares about not only building great athletes but also great character.  And Hayley made some really great friends.  We could not have asked for a better season.  The school even invites her to go on their field trips every other week.  She's been to play paintball, to a shooting range and on a city-wide scavenger hunt.  Good times!

So you wanna see some pictures, right?  I should warn you that I have not yet mastered taking sports pictures.  These are the best I could do.

  There's my Lady Panther, #23!

Oh, look!  Who's that ref-ing the game?!  Too bad this wasn't a paying gig.

I should probably tell you their record.  I don't actually know.  It was a winning season.  That's all I need to know.  I'm a great sports mom.

Strategizing with Coach Vining.  The tallest girl is Hayley's good friend Aubree.  And that's Aubree's dad, Mr. Foshee, the assistant coach, in the striped shirt. 

I wish I had a pictures of the game that Wes and his brother Brad were the referees and Caitlin ran the scoreboard.  It was all Sullivans, all the time!

We all hated to see the season come to an end.  Although our wallet is glad to see the gas expense go. 

Friday, February 11, 2011

Some Thoughts on the Egyptian Revolution

For eighteen days I've watched the protests in Egypt with a mixture of anticipation and dread.  I've studied the modern history of Egypt and its culture in an effort to gain understanding of what was taking place.  I've puzzled over bits of information and their meaning.  I've pondered it all at great length.  I've been hesitant to put into words my perception of these events and the questions that nag at me.  I've been hesitant because I'm unsure that I understand what is happening and I don't know what the ramifications are for the future of the Middle East and even the world.  I've been hesitant because I'm not sure I can even adeqately express what I feel is the enormity of these events.  However, it has occurred to me that I must document this for my children and grandchildren.  For after all, the whole purpose of this blog is to record my thoughts and special memories for my girls and to give them insight into who I am.  You're just along for the ride!

These protests turned revolution are being compared to the fall of the Shah in Iran in 1979.  That revolution also started as a "democratic" movement but eventually led to tyranny of the worst kind.  I have often wondered if people here in America sensed at the time the danger that lay ahead.  I was only nine at the time but I rememember that our extended family had gathered for the holidays and we were shooting fireworks.  My Uncle Allen had managed to rig several types of fireworks together to produce what we all hoped would be a spectacular blast and he called it the "Ayatollah Khomeini Bang".  Of course, I had no idea what that meant at the time but for some reason that has always stuck with me.  And so I've found myself wondering what my girls, who are 10 and 14, will remember from this period of their lives. 

Today, February 11, 2011, on the 31st anniversary of the overthrow of the Iranian Shah, the president of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, resigned under pressure from the protests of the Egyptian people.  I'm watching on Fox News as the people of Egypt are flooding the streets waving the Egyptian flag and shouting with joy that they have won their freedom.  But I can't help but wonder--have they simply exchanged one dictator for another?  The protests have been hailed as a pro-democracy movement.  We are being told that we are witnessing another revolution for freedom akin to that of America in 1791 which ended in the greatest experiment in freedom the world has ever seen. But I can't help but fear that we are seeing a revolution in the vein of the French revolution which ended in guillotines.

Democracy.  It sounds like a good thing.  But in its most simple form it is "mob rule".  Let us not forget that democracy doesn't equal freedom.  For if the people of Egypt, in their new-found democracy, choose to follow the wrong leader they will wind up in bondage to an Islamic state and sharia law.  We should also keep a watchful eye on the rest of the Middle East for the success of this revolution will almost certainly embolden revolutionaries everywhere. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Nothing Clever to Name This Post

I have been plotting and planning a clever yet introspective blog post to wrap up 2010.  And then I took 509872 pictures of the snow we got and I was planning a cute post about that.  And then the tragedy happened in AZ and it just didn't feel right to be light-hearted.  And then I wanted to tell you my take on the shameful politicization of that tragedy by politcians and media on the left and right.  But now I have something serious and close to home that I need to tell you about.

I received news yesterday that a bloggy friend of mine, Joanne aka The Simple Wife, had a stroke.  She's 38 and has a husband and two young daughters.  If you've been reading my blog for awhile you may remember that I reviewed Joanne's book Misplacing God (and finding Him again).  While I've never met her face to face, I know someone who is close to her.  And while Joanne and I have only corresponded by email and blog comments I feel like I can call her friend.  I know it may seem strange that I can feel connected to someone I've never met but bloggers share a special kind of community.  While my blog certainly isn't on the same par as Joanne's she has always been gracious and kind.  We've talked about some difficult things that we share in common and we've prayed for each other.  But most of all she loves Jesus with all her heart and and that's a GOOD thing we have in common.  It makes us sisters.

Could you pray with me for Joanne?  For complete healing, for peace and comfort for her husband Toben and their girls, Audrey and Emma.  Pray for wisdom for the doctors and nurses.  Pray that God will be glorified through this.  I've shared on this blog before my reservations about the power of prayer and God's goodness after the loss of my niece.  In the last two years I have questioned everything I thought I knew.  God and I are still working things out but today, for my friend, I will boldly approach His throne and plead for her.  Will you go with me?