Old Soul Raised Right

The door is open letting a breeze blow into the house. Birds are singing. Alabama, Alan Jackson, and others are singing in the background of the sound of dishes being washed while coffee cake bakes in the oven.

I’ve been told before I have an old soul in a young body. I think I was just raised right – simple, appreciative, well-mannered.

As I mixed that coffee cake, I chuckled to myself. I was using my grandma’s KitchenAid mixer, Tupperware measuring utensils while other Tupperware pieces dried in the dish rack, and the recipe used is from my copy of the “big red cookbook” from which many recipes of my childhood came as my mama followed and tweaked the recipes in her copy of that cookbook given to her by her mama.

I should be used to it by now, but I am still shocked when I hear my friends say they don’t cook or when they say their girlfriends or ex-girls never baked for them. Most Saturdays, after chores were finished, the kitchen became mine as I baked cookies or cakes or some other (usually) tasty treat for my family! I was raised by a mama who loves to cook for anyone and everyone! I have that same mindset. It makes me happy to cook for family and friends and co-workers and people I’ve never met.

It truly makes me sad to hear that my age group and those younger than I no longer take pride in their ability to throw a meal together for unexpected company or no longer have a cake or bread on stand-by. Ice tea in the fridge? Nope.

(Sidenote: I’m excited to be getting a new Tupperware pitcher! It will probably be tea-stained by the end of the summer!)

I don’t know if I’m just an old soul in a young body and not up to modern behaviour or if people these days just aren’t raising their kids right – with manners and preparedness -, but as I listen to the ballads of Brad Paisley and smell the cinnamon in the coffee cake heating up, I’m content.

 

Sunday School

This morning, while getting ready for church, I wrote a – in my opinion – brilliant post in my head about slavery. I was super pumped to type it out here.

At church, while watching a video about the sanctity of life, I started writing a post, again in my head, about individual world-views. I was excited about.

After church, ran into my parents in town for lunch where we started discussing Sunday school.

Background: I grew up in a church that was quite sizable. Children’s Sunday school was divided by school grade and age. Youth group was youth group, 7th-12th grade. College and Career was essentially everyone out of high school into their late 20s/early 30s. After that, I’m not entirely sure on all the different classes. I know there was a class titled “Homebuilders.” You picked which class you wanted to attend. (You could pick right out of high school, maybe in senior high too, but most chose to go with age we transitioned from kid to adult.)

Back to today: The question was brought up: do churches need or should have a college and career aged Sunday school class? Why can’t the young adults join the older adults in a group Sunday school?

My thoughts: Yes. Here’s why.

  1. If all the adults are sitting in the same area being taught the same lesson, how is that any different than the main church service? Especially in smaller churches?
  2. Sunday school classes typically have more interaction when smaller. A quieter person might be able to work up the courage to give their thoughts on a topic or passage of Scripture when there are only their peers in the room but remain silent when faced with talking in front of “older” Christians are adults they’ve grown up listening to in church.
  3. Graduating high school can be overwhelming to a teenager; why have that stress or overwhelming feeling at church too? A college and/or career class allows that teenager to transition from high school to adulthood a bit easier. They can learn with their peers facing the same struggles or those who have recently gone through the same struggles – budgeting, relationships, new co-workers – how to handle those specific challenges Biblically in comparison to sitting through a lesson on how to handle disciplining young children according to the Bible and trying to focus on that instead of their new trials.
  4. Sunday school does not take the place of morning worship service, evening worship service, or Wednesday night prayer meeting. Those are all still combined – all ages – when the younger adults fellowship with other believers across the range of ages.
  5. New members or those visiting a church for the first time might feel more at ease with their own age group, be less concerned about what that senior saint is thinking about them, and actually focus on the lesson.

I realize the college group could hold Bible studies apart from church, but, in my experience, those studies are sporadically attended by this age group due to work and school schedules.

These are just the reasons I could think of today for why churches shouldn’t dismiss the idea of a college/career group. I’m sure I will think of more over the next few days. Feel free to comment your thoughts on the subject!

The God of Fire

If you never have an imaginary conversation or attempted to plan a conversation with someone in your head, you are lying to yourself. Tonight, my conversation was with someone I love dearly who is now unfortunately brainwashed by a treehugger and with the idiotic treehugger/brainwasher.

At some point, this conversation turned to the world being destroyed by fire by God after the rapture and tribulations and the rest of the prophecies in Revelations. The idiot, in my imaginary conversation, asked how I can I follow a God Who will allow the world to be destroyed. I answered with He is the just God who has had literally billions of His children, throughout history, suffer unimaginable pain and death for their attempts at warning people of the upcoming judgment. The idiot then asked how would I be able to stand seeing the world be destroyed.

I, being me, responded that since I will be seated on the stoop of my personalized mansion, safe from the power of destruction of the fire, I don’t anticipate mourning the destruction of a cursed world. I also pointed out that as a pyro and a firefighter, I love fire. I love watching the beauty of the dancing flames and listening to sound of the fire consuming the fuel.

That got me thinking away from the treehuggers about how appropriate it was that God, the Creator of the universe, will destroy the universe – cursed but still beautiful – with something as beautiful as fire. Fire is the element that with restraint is beautiful and beneficial. Fire is also the element that, when unleashed, is powerful beyond belief and can continue to consume everything that stands in defiance of that power. From there, how appropriate that God appeared as a pillar of fire to guide the Israelites through the wilderness.

He created this universe out of NOTHING. I’m redoing my house right, slowly, so very slowly, but surely. I can have a perfect design in my head, but only based on what I have with which to work. I can draw out my dream house, but only based on what I’ve already seen. Architects can design a new house, but they have to be within codes and regulations based on what has already been done. God designed the world with no previous worlds (that we’ve been told), and it is beautiful even while cursed! Clearly, He has a respect, knowledge, and love of beauty – including in fire.

He also appeared before them as the element that can consume forests and towns and civilizations – as we were reminded recently with Gatlinburg, Tennessee – before it stops or is stopped. The power of fire is uncontested world-wide. Israel was overtaken by fires and aided by other countries who realized the amount of destruction – and the threat to them – of those fires. What better element would the just, powerful, and holy God choose than the purifying fire? Oh yes, fire purifies.

It is truly sad the amount of death in Tennessee right now – people, woods, and animals. However, that area will come back to be even more beautiful and full of life after the impurities have been burned away. Farmers burn away left-over crops and weeds to clean and enrich the soil for a better harvest. We are told a couple different times in the Bible that Christians are being purified through trials the same way fire purifies. The holy God cannot allow sin in His kingdom. When He creates the new world, it will be after the impurities of this world have been burned away.

Yes, I realize God appears as wind or rather a gentle breeze in Biblical accounts as well, but this line of thought focused on the fire and the different characteristics of God we can see through fire.

The last thing we can see through the account of God being the pillar of fire guiding the Israelites: mercy. They were wandering because of their sin. That fire could have been used to consume the entire nation, but God restrained from doing that because while they were wandering as consequence for their sin, they were wandering because God showed mercy and allowed them to live to wander rather than choosing a different people to be His.

Three Types of People

This morning, as I used my all-natural laundry detergent and fumed about yet another chain store wanting to enter my little town, I decided there are three clear types of people in this world.

The first: my oh so favorite (please sense the sarcasm) treehuggers. These treehuggers essentially believe that the world is better without humans to preserve the world. It doesn’t matter if a tree is dead and about to fall on the home that has been in a family for generations and poses a risk to the little ones playing in the yard. They still think the tree should not be cut down and be allowed to fall as if it were still in an uninhabited area.

The second: I don’t actually have a good name for these people, as of now. This group is filled with people who live in the concrete jungle and think that the entire world should be paved over with asphalt, cement, concrete, etc. These are the people that seem to think that every village, township, town, city should have a McDonalds and Dollar General. They are the anti-treehuggers. It is important to note that while all in this group are city-boys, not all city-boys are in this group.

The third: the naturalists. This is the group of which I consider myself a part – the happy medium between the first and second. Naturalists are happy with how things are now – distinction between the country and the city. Naturalists typically live in the country because they don’t like the crowded, nature-deprived city, but they recognize the necessity of the cities to house a continuously growing population. Naturalists don’t go protesting every time a tree is going to be cut down, but they do believe and love national, state, and local parks. Naturalists don’t like the government interfering with how we keep our houses warm (the EPA should be disbanded), but they also prefer natural, biodegradable products around their house to do what they can to help preserver the environment. Naturalists are pro-hunting, but dislike hunting purely for sport (Dances with Wolves has a scene of thousands of slaughtered buffalo, killed for sport rather than meat and warmth, that has haunted me for over a decade.).

Naturalists can live in the city. You’ll find them in parks or taking weekend outings to local lakes or hiking grounds. They’ll be pushing for recycling in their building or homeowner’s association.

Naturalists are the most likable of the three groups. Treehuggers cannot go a day without telling you you’re wrong about everything when it comes to the environment. They tell you how you’re contributing to global warming that day. That second group cannot go a day without telling you that yeah, the fields of wheat waiting for harvesting set against a background of gold, flaming, and auburn trees with a dusty blue fall sky above all are beautiful, but think of how much nicer it would look as a parking lot for the new plaza of stores they want to build there. Yeah, our grandparents used to climb trees and run play by the creek, but it’s much safer for them on a small playground.

Because of the feuds between the treehuggers and the concreters (not the best title, but it’s still pretty accurate), everybody thinks the choice is one extreme or the other other. Everyone forgets that there is the third option. When you live half an hour from a city with every grocery, clothing, craft, auto, home-project store you could need, you don’t need a dollar general in your town just to have a dollar general in your town. You don’t need to feel guilty about cutting down a dead tree. Just plant another tree or grind that one into mulch for your flower beds or chop for a bonfire or woodburner.

Roommates with Benefits

Before I go into how I came across this post, what my personal beliefs on the subject are, or break down the post with what I think about it, allow me to summarize:

The post which I will be reviewing was written, in my opinion, by a spoiled brat whose parents greatly failed her as parents, and has either a guilty conscience or likes to think of herself as a rebel or wild child.

Now. The history behind this post:

Several of my friends and acquaintances have shared a post via Facebook written by some girl about living with her boyfriend before marriage. I was intrigued after about the third time it appeared on my feed, so I opened and was quite disgusted about the entire post.

Time for my favorite part: the break down.

It starts with what could actually be a valid point: the girl writing it claims to be an adult when people ask her about what her parents think about her living with her boyfriend. On the other hand, even as an adult, you should still respect the counsel of your parents and not just assume that, because they do not scold you as a child, they are happy with your decision. My parents let me screw up if I choose to go against their counsel or advice.

Oh! Here’s the part that led me to say that the girl’s parents greatly failed her! She didn’t realize she had to pay bills, that her paychecks could not be spent on cute outfits and purses.

You’re laughing, right? Because, I about died laughing when I read that section. She got a puppy and didn’t realize the poor thing would need more than 4 cups (no, she probably should not have gotten a dog) of food a day. She didn’t realize that food did not magically appear in the fridge or that cars need fuel. (Seriously, did she not have a tv at the very least?!) If she was so sheltered that she did not realize what the real world was like, her parents failed in preparing her to live on her own as an adult which could have done nothing good for her relationship.

The next part had me rolling my eyes at first, and then I realized that there may be more to the story than what she was willing to tell. I have had a few angry tears roll down my face in the spring and summer brought on by little things like not taking out the garbage on time leading to oh my gosh I have to pay the garbage bill soon. If it truly was because she realized she’s not a kid and now has to face responsibilities, then she deserves the eye-rolling.

To say that you cannot get close to or know somebody simply because you’re not living with them says so, so much about you! You are so unimaginative or uncaring that unless somebody is actually in your lap (or bed), you won’t get to know their likes and dislikes, pet-peeves, won’t be able to recognize when something is wrong with them – physically or emotionally – and the list continues. The late night pizza runs and making a fort in the living room (or outside or camping) sound like fun date nights, not something that you can do only if you’re living with somebody. That’s the majority of her rant – listing ways she’s gotten to know her boyfriend because they live together….even though the majority of what she lists are things anyone who is dating someone can find out….or working with someone on shifts 36-48 hours/week. (It got to where I could tell which of my coworkers was sick or getting sick because of how their breathing changed when we had down-time. I could tell you with my eyes closed which guy had entered the room based on footsteps.)

Then, she gives an example of her friend who spent approximately $50,000 on a wedding. It amuses me that so many people try the whole “try it before you buy it” argument as to why they’re living together before marriage and try to say that it leads to lower divorce rates when divorce rates were so much lower in the past when it was culturally unacceptable and worthy of a shotgun wedding to sleep together before marriage, let alone live together before marriage. There’s picture floating around Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc. where a young couple asked an older couple who had been married for over 50 years how they managed to make it so long. The older couple responded with something along the lines of “we were raised in a time where if something wasn’t working, you didn’t just throw it out. You fixed it.” That is so much better than “try it before you buy it.” Marriage is work. It’s not all lovey-dovey like Hallmark movies and chick-flicks. If you don’t realize that, or you haven’t been warned about that, then you should NOT be getting married. You need to sit down and talk about things not just assume you can live the exact same way as you did as a child with your parents.

Why is it different to go through hard times when you’re just living with someone rather than when you have vowed to spend your entire life with someone? Is it because if it gets too hard, you can run away easier than if you were married and things got hard?

Now she brings God into the matter, or in her words, “the big guy” which is so incredibly disrespectful! She actually had mentioned sin earlier in the post, but I chose to save that until we got to this part. Humans are the ones who think different sins have different consequences. Humans are the ones who think murdering someone is worse than adultery is worse than fornication. According to God, through Paul, in the book of Romans, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). To God, there is no difference: sin is sin is sin. Having a roommate or housemate in and of itself is not bad. Having a roommate with “benefits” is sexual impurity which, according to God so many times in the Bible, is a sin.

Living with someone does not equal you loving them or showing everyone you love them. Vowing to spend the rest of your life with that someone shows everyone you love them.

She closes with trying to justify what she’s doing by saying she’s happy so nothing else matters. She loves him more because she lives with him and knows so very much about him, and all I can think is “you’re going to get bored.” What’s left to find out when you get married if you’ve been living with them for so long? You might as well just have a courthouse wedding with just your parents if you make so light of marriage. Save yourself $50,000. (I was choking as I wrote that insanely high number. That’s a house! Or two cars!)

You probably have figured out through reading this post that I am not an advocate of living together/sleeping together before marriage. If I were to have a male living in my house, he would be in the spare room, which currently does not have a bed, but sleeping bags are a wonderful thing. My concern would be the appearance of sin, but if a buddy needs a place to crash, I’m not going to turn him away.

 

Heart of the Wild

I am actually quite impressed that I have managed to stay quiet for so long on the whole gorilla-killing and other events in the animal kingdom these last couple of months. However, yesterday, a sad story about a suicidal killer whale caught my attention, and that was the final straw.

I firmly believe humans are above animals because God, the Creator of the universe, gave us dominion over all other creatures after He proclaimed creation good. Unfortunately, the fall of man in the garden, nature was cursed, and the punishment of mankind as part of that curse and the consequences of the fall led to humans and animals having a difficult relationship. The fact still remains though, that we are on top; we are different.

Now. That being said, many humans have abused that power of dominion and turned it into cruelty. We’re told in the new testament of the Bible that God does care about even the tiniest sparrows, but humans still feel the need to hunt for sport rather than food or need (Dances with Wolves is a movie my parents watched when I was very, very little. I sneaked out to see what they were watching and have since been unable to rid my mind of the hundreds of slaughtered bison who were killed for money rather than necessity.).

First, allow to look at an event that took place at Yellowstone several weeks ago. Tourists were afraid that a bison calf would freeze in the snow. Bison, which are one of the few animals actually native to this land for hundreds of years, are not typically known for freezing during a snowfall – especially when the baby has a mama somewhere nearby, which I am frankly quiet surprised did not attack the tourists in defense of her baby, which would do anything to keep her offspring alive. As a result of the sheer stupidity of those tourists, the calf was essentially kicked out of the herd and became a hazard to the safety of itself and humans driving through the park as it would run toward the cars. The rangers attempted to reintroduce it to the herd and other herds but eventually had to put it down. My personal feeling was that they could have sent the calf to a bison sanctuary, which do exist, rather than euthanizing it. They also could have have shot it and saved the meat.

Next, there was the whole gorilla in the Cincinnati zoo drama. I think the mother is at fault for not knowing where her child was for such a long period of time. I also think the responders to the situation did the right thing by shooting the gorilla rather than trying to tranquilize him. This is part of the having dominion aspect of humanity: when an animal attacks a human, the human comes first, especially when it is a young, tiny human who did not fully comprehend the severity of his decision. The decision to shoot was made by a team of experts familiar with not just gorillas in general, but also this specific gorilla. I trust their instincts and protocol so much more than the other so-called “experts” who have decided, from a distant, grainy video that the wrong decision was made because the video showed that gorilla might have been trying to protect the boy, or he was just going to play with him (think of how rough kids are on their toys; now think of a 400 pound kid playing with a toy). The actual experts on scene not only followed their protocol, which is a big deal, but went with what they knew was right based on experience and actually being there.

The very next week, another idiot happened through Yellowstone National Park. The lack of respect in this day and age led to that idiot trying to attempting to get a “selfie” with a mama elk. If you have never seen an elk or looked them up in a book or online for whatever reason, they are huge and very protective of their young. Understandably, the mama found the woman creeping up on her and her baby with a strange device (camera, maybe with one of those sticks, I’m not sure) a bit threatening. She attacked. The rangers did not interfere. I think that was the right decision. Perhaps they’re taught the same as fire and EMS and law enforcement: your safety first to prevent creating more victims and more dangerous scenario for the next round of responders. Maybe they were thinking of the Cincinnati ordeal the week before where people did their job and were now under investigation. Maybe they remembered, which the woman clearly did not, that it is a national park for the preservation of nature and animals, with signs clearly posted with the dos and don’ts of interacting with wildlife for those lacking in common sense.

Finally, I mentioned the suicidal killer whale in the first paragraph. Apparently, this poor whale had been injured in the wild and taken to a Sea World with the purpose of rehab. Now, rehab, for people anyhow and with most true animal preservation organizations, means that you keep that creature in as natural a habitat as possible while it heals. For Sea World, rehab means that creature never returns home; it is instead taught tricks. This injured whale, since healing and being taught tricks, has tried to, and this might sound a bit rude, bash its head in against a metal gate and beach itself after a show. This isn’t like the many other unfortunate animals at Sea World who were born into captivity and only have instinct telling them it’s wrong. This whale was born and raised in the wild and remembers that freedom!

I think zoos can be good and bad. I’ve been to several zoos where the bears were not in anything that even slightly resembled their natural home. I’ve also been to zoos where you cannot even see the animals, like the cheetahs, because of how large and well put together the habitats were. Those zoos are the ones that actually the preservation of animals as their core mission. In that case, I think it’s a great thing because it allows us people to see animals that have been hunted to near extinctions, animals we would never have the opportunity to see in their natural habitats. However, the zoos where the animals are kept in little better than cages with no room to run or climb or whatever their natural actions are need to be closed with their animals moved to actual sanctuaries.

Sea World has repeatedly proven they do not have best interest of animals at heart, so as much as I love to see ocean life up close without risking being eaten by a shark or stung by jellyfish, I don’t think I can go back there. I have refused to go to a circus since watching Dumbo and seeing the treatment of the animals there (good job, Disney! addressing the cruelty of circuses while still being cutesy.).

Overall, I wish people would go back to simply having dominion, hunting for food not just trophies, watching your children so animals who are already not in their natural environment are not killed because of the circumstances, and recognizing that dominion and cruelty are not synonymous. Dominion, in the Biblical sense, is closer to care-taking. We are to take care of the world.

Note: this is coming from somebody who cannot stand the treehuggers and green politics. They take it to the other extreme.

Why I Will Not Celebrate Valentines Day

Interesting title, right? Maybe?

It is true though. When I date, am engaged, married, I will not celebrate Valentine’s Day. What is my reasoning? Glad you asked.

On approximately, or traditionally, the 14th of February back in the days of the Roman rule, Claudius, a Roman priest named Valentine was killed. Why? Well, he disobeyed the laws of the empire. You see, Claudius decreed that soldier were not allowed to be married or have a family. These were distractions to his troops and reasons for them not to enlist in his army. Valentine decided that this was ridiculous, regardless of precedence of other, even more ancient nations. He proceeded to perform wedding ceremonies for soldiers. He willfully disobeyed the law. I do not know if he was a born-again Christian, but he claimed the title of priest which meant he should have been studying the Word of God. Jesus taught obey the government if the government did not order you to sin against God. God inspired Paul to write that it is ok to not be married. So, my very simplified conclusion (drawn from other passages than just my references to Jesus and Paul): Valentine was going against God by going against his government. Why honor that?

(For anyone who might be saying, well, you’re not Catholic, so why would you honor or remember a saint anyhow: I honor and respect with remembrance those who are deserving of it. I do not worship or pray to them. Days meant for remembering saints are viewed the same day as remembering great world leaders – Washington, King Jr. – if I respect them and their actions. )

Followed by the next, even a more simpler of a reason: I do not need a special day to show someone how much I love them. I’m hoping/expecting my husband will get me chocolate on many days of the year, not just on the 14th of February.

I’m not going to take the fun away from my kiddos when they’re in school. I think it is good for kids, who are still learning social and life skills, to have a day set aside for showing love for others through flowers and those cute little cards you fold with stickers. I’m thinking they’re probably going to have lessons at home the days surrounding Valentine’s day on the different words used in the Bible for love.