For the beauty of the earth, For the beauty of the skies,
For the love which from our birth Over and around us lies,
Lord of all, to thee we raise This our grateful hymn of praise.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The ORIGINAL Throwback Survey!

The Basics:
What is your Name? Sara
What is the Name of your blog? Which one? :D This one's For the Beauty of the Earth. My photo blogs are in links on the side and I also have a Homestead blog...I like to compartmentalize my life.
What is your blog’s web address?

The Survey:
1. What state do you currently reside? California
2. What color is your natural hair? Same color it is now, brown with small wisps of grey (I earned that grey so I don't plan on covering it up).
3. How tall are you? 5'4"
4. What is your favorite food? Seafood
5. What color shirt are you wearing right now? Purple.
6. What are three cosmetic items that you wear every single day? Um, deodorant, um, toothpaste?, um, uh, glasses? :D I'm a tomboy. Never wear makeup except on rare occasions. My boys dance classical ballet so I joke that they own more make-up than I do.
7. What is your denomination? Gee, that's kinda complicated. In fact, it's almost soap opera-esque. Let's just say that I'm a Calvinist taking refuge in a former American Baptist Church...and very, very happy about it.
8. Describe your testimony? That's even more complicated. In short...I was a 42 year old pew warmer who finally "found" a church that proclaimed the gospel every single Sunday and found it hard to remain a false professor in light of the Truth of God's Word.
9. How did you meet your husband? At a church college group.
10. What is your favorite beverage? Coffee
11. How many kids do you have? quote Bill Cosby, "[We] have five children because we do. not. want. six." :D Took me five kids to finally get that joke.
12. Have you ever experienced an earthquake? Note my current residence.
13. What is your favorite TV show? Scarecrow & Mrs. King. Seriously, I do not watch TV anymore.
14. What was the last movie you saw? Battleship. And the last time I saw it as a movie, as opposed to a DVD, was ON the USS Midway aircraft carrier in San Diego. Yeah, it was pretty awesome.
15. Who is your favorite Bible character? Hmm, another complicated question...or answer, rather. Should I answer in a way that will make people comfortable, or should I tell the painfully honest truth? Leah, wife of Jacob. One day I'll write a book about it. (You can guess for yourself if this is comfortable or truthful.)
16. What color are your eyes? Brown--they were more hazel when I was a kid.
17. Are you a working mother, stay at home wife, or stay at home mom? Well, I'm kind of a SAHM with a volunteer job at a farm, so I feel more like a working mom, but I get paid in carrots and onions and such. :D
18. Do you homeschool? Gosh, why all these complicated questions? :D I sort of homeschool my oldest son, though we are calling it unschooling right now. I did homeschool my middle kids until this last fall. And I part time homeschool my youngest.
19. Did/do you attend University? If so, where. University of Montana
20. If you could change one thing in your life what would it be? That I would be more faithful each day to Christ.
21. Who is your favorite Christian singer or band? Casting Crowns
22. What is your absolute favorite color? Purple.
23. Think about something from the ocean and write it down: (yes, random…I know) Well, since I live in SoCal, when I think of the ocean I think of stinky air and sticky sand that takes three weeks to wash off your body.
24. Where is your favorite place to dine out? Well, in the old days, before we had kids, it was a restaurant at the top of the Bonaventure in Downtown LA. It revolves. It's pretty cool.
25.  Did you attend church camp? Just once. You can bet I'm making sure my kids get to it more than once now that we attend a church that doesn't have a hang-up about such things. 
26. Name a blog friend who’s name starts with the same letter as your name: Sherrey
27. Do you have a Facebook Account for your blog? No. Just personal.
28. Do you have a Twitter Account for your blog? No. Just personal.
29. Name someone you miss right now: My grandparents who raised me.
30. What is your happiest childhood memory? My grandparents raising me. :)
31. Name one thing you can cook better than your husband’s mother: (if you’re not married, then your own mother.) Hmmm, is this safe to post in such a public space? ;)
32. Would you consider yourself stubborn? Yep. And don't even bother to argue with me on this. I will win or die trying. :D
33. Do you feel like you are a good writer? Only when I'm delusional. Then I will post something interesting or write something interesting and all the grammarians will come out of the the woodwork and point out that there should have been a comma there. Is there a question as to whether I am opposed to grammarians? :)
34. Do you pin? If so, list your Pinterest screen name. Yes, homesteadstuff.
35. How many hours do you spend on Pinterest per day? <1
36. Do you use WordPress, Blogger, Drupal, or Typepad? (or another?) WordPress, Blogger, and Tumblr.
37. Where do you stand on wearing socks with sandals? My feet wherever I am. :P If your toes are cold, but you want to wear sandals, knock yourself out. Nobody questions when women where stockings with their sandals. :)
38. Did you design your own blog, or hire a graphic designer? A what? WYSIWYG is my way of designing. (That's point-and-click, if I remember correctly.)
39. What is your favorite widget/gadget? Anything that enables people to see pictures of my kids.
40. If you had to choose only one, would you have a clean bathroom or a clean kitchen? Kitchen. I spend more time in there.
41. Where did you honeymoon? Tahoe
42. Did you elope? No
43. Do you have a favorite sports team? I used to but I don't have time for that anymore. Now my fave sports team is whatever T-Ball team Braniac is playing on this coming spring. :D
44. What is your favorite praise & worship song? Beautiful Things. 
45. Were you raised in church? Yes. What's that old saying, "Going to church doesn't make you a Christian anymore than going into a garage makes you a car." Weak analogy, scary truth. 
46. When did you start blogging? A long time ago, in a galaxy...oh, wait, wrong movie.
47. What are your favorite blogs? I'm sort of in flux right now. Traditionally I read a lot of homeschool blogs and while I still read them, I obviously don't get the same thing out of them anymore. I like a few organization blogs like I Heart Organizing and I've been reading mostly homestead blogs lately, like The Walden Effect.
48. Have you ever lived in another country? Nope.
49. Have you done missions? If so, where & when. Short-term. Guatemala. In the previous century.
50. What version of the Bible do you prefer? I'm old. Still like the KJV. Sings better. ;)
51. What’s the story behind your blog name? Hmm, I should write on that one. It's part of my testimony. In short, after giving birth to Babycakes, God began a work in my heart to bring me to Salvation. It started with a new attitude toward Him and others. Basically, I was a happier person. I wasn't nearly as angry. And I was beginning to see the good things God gives to me on a daily basis. The song fit my feelings.
52. Describe the ultimate hands down best date on a $20 budget. I guess Panda Express. We don't date much and that's usually the only place I can get my dh to go to.
53. Will you tell one blogger about this survey? If so, then who? (optional: include their web address) Well, I'll Tweet about it. Does that count?
54. What is your favorite scripture? 2 Cor 3: 16,18 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed...And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Face of Abortion

Yep, it's Sanctity of Human Life Sunday and you're thinking, "Gosh, didn't she just write about this last year?" OK, maybe that's not what you're thinking but I have to say that there does seem to be an extreme passivity about abortion in Christian circles these days. Not quite as bad as our view of prayer, but getting there. Maybe it's because we're not in the news anymore. Maybe we're just like all the other people in the country who are looking for our 10 second sound-byte on the nightly and now that we can't have it we'll move on to other things.

Or maybe it's coz we don't think we've made a difference. We look at the numbers and they are terribly staggering. 56,000,000 children murdered in the US since Roe v Wade 40 years ago. It seems strange to us to consider the saving of 26 lives during one prayer campaign a victory. And, I guess it is, unless you're one of the 26.

Anyway, if you are offended by what I've just written prepare to be more so. I was too ethereal last year and apparently people don't get it so I'm gonna be frank. The following pictures are of the type of children murdered by abortion every. single. day. in the so-called "land of the free."

So, in case you don't know, that top pic is of my 3.5yo, known online as Babycakes, and that bottom pic is my 11yo, known as Spock. Each day women walk into clinics and "doctors" take (no, that's not the word I want to use, but I'm trying to be nice) their children like BC and Spock and throw them in a garbage bag. Now, I understand that there are many different reasons that women allow this to be done to them.

1) They've been taught that we are all nothing more than a mass of cells worth all of, what was the last estimate, $36?

2) They are pressured by their husbands, boyfriends, parents, friends, to get rid of an unwanted pregnancy (you know, I thought feminism was opposed to that but except FFL & NWF, I can't find a lot of feminist's who are concerned).

3) They are pressured by their doctors and medical experts to terminate their less-than-perfect unborn child coz it's really "what's best for everyone involved."

Now, of course, you'll say my decisions were easy. Of course, you really don't know me at all so you can say that. You can judge me and stick me into a box of your own making. But, if you knew me you'd know that I had just as much right to end the lives of my children as those who do. As do all the other women out there, religious or not, who choose not to kill their unborn children even though society accepts this act as perfectly normal.

I think the real problem is not what I've stated in the first three reasons, I think the real problem is that we've bought a bill of goods stating that we have a right to a "perfect" life. The idea of perfection being our ever fluctuating wants. I don't "want" the stress of a less than perfect baby. I don't want to have to go through all that time in the NICU and all that time taking a child to therapy just so he can learn to walk and eat. I don't want to have to spend my life possibly taking care of a less than perfect child, one who might need his diaper changed not just for two years, but forever. One who might never say, "I love you," or, "Thank you" for all our hard work and sacrifices.

I don't "want" a baby at my age. It wasn't like I planned to get pregnant. I already have enough kids. The cost of raising another child will put too much strain on us. It's a less than ideal time in our lives to have a baby. There are too many other things we have to deal with right now, a baby will only add to our problems. I have PPD really bad and don't want to go through that again.

I keep trying to figure out where we get the idea that we have this sort of "right." Why do we think this way? I know I grew up being told that I had a right to be happy and that I should do anything that made me happy. It was surely modeled by my parents and, unfortunately, even my grandparents. Society around me encouraged this thought. Why be miserable in a relationship when you can chuck it and try again? Why be miserable with a less than perfect or unwanted child when you can chuck it and try again (or not, as the case may be)?

In a nation obsessed with outward appearances and keeping up with the Joneses, imperfect, unwanted children are an easily disposed of inconvenience with neither the baby nor the mother of the child cared for because both are an inconvenience to our lives of ease.

So, tomorrow, just like today, about 3,000 more children like BC 

and Spock 

will be removed from our society violently and permanently.

And that's all I have to say about it today. You may now return to your life of ease.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Christmas Break in Review

The kids are going back to school today. *sniff* Four months into this new way of life and I haven't yet figured out why parents complain about school holidays. I enjoyed ours and look forward to the less than two weeks. Though that will only be a four day weekend.

At any rate, here's some pics from our break.

The last day of school was free dress, and a half-day. The kids love free dress...well, except Spock. He finds free dress days, um, illogical. He ended up wearing most of his uniform, he just had a different shirt on...which you can't see coz it's under his school jacket here. :D

So, after just a few hours, we were off for the holidays...almost. We had a few things to take care of first. Like Santa.

Yeah, I let it go down to the wire this year. Never again. Though it worked just fine, I still don't want to be standing in line outside BassPro on Saturday morning before Christmas.

After Santa, and lunch, we were off to the theater for three more shows of Nutcracker.

In between, Braniac got to sing at church, which always makes him happy. He's looking forward to first grade when he can be in the children's choir. B is on the front row, right, second one in, red sweater vest, yawning, puts the blanket over his head...

And then it was time to get ready for Christmas. Made pie this year. We've never found a gluten-free pre-made crust that we all like so I made mine from scratch. Turned out pretty good. Now Braniac wants me to make him a chocolate pie. :)

6am, Christmas Eve morning, where were you? I was at Toys R Us, in the rain, with Mr. Great-heart who was spending his birthday and Christmas money on his brothers. Yeah, he's that awesome. He also always buys people gifts with his AWANA bucks and his Space Rewards (Sunday School) money. You wish you had a kid this awesome. ;)

Christmas Eve also happens to be Mr. Great-heart's birthday. He wanted to ride a train so we loaded our cupcakes and were off to the train station to wait...and boy did we wait.

When people ask why public transportation isn't more popular, unreliability is probably a great answer. Almost 45 minutes late. We missed our return connection. But it all worked out for the, actually, it didn't. Due to us having to take a later train, Babycakes didn't vomit on the carpet at home, he vomited all over me in the train. I think Metrolink should give me a free pass for making sure he only puked on me instead of their seats. :D

Christmas Eve.

Writing our thank you to Santa.

5am Christmas morning. Well, at least they don't come in and jump all over the bed. :)

Last year of going overboard. Next year we have a limit. 

But at least they know what's important. :)

We took it easy most of the time. Recovering from Nutcracker and our first four months of going to school. I took the kids to the farm a few times. Here's Braniac's first day. (I didn't tell him what those nice cattle we fed the weeds to were for...he'd probably never go back.)

On NYD we went out to San Pedro to see the USS Iowa. Very impressive. We'll have to go back in about five years to see how far along they've come in making their museum.

The Teenager turned 16. No pics, he's allergic to the camera. But here's the food we ate.

For the closing ceremonies we had a nice rainstorm. This had been a double rainbow but by the time I found my camera and got out front this was all that was left.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

...but sometimes I'm just obnoxious.

We conservatives are nothing if not obsessed with the 1950's. I don't really know why  except that somewhere in our minds we have it locked in there that after the 1950's everything went to, well, you know. I started thinking about this as Spock and I were conversing about the plight of the inner city. He wanted to know how it got to be so bad. I stated the usual "soft-on-crime" stats, government corruption, etc., then I suddenly remembered something I don't think about a lot...white flight. I had to explain to him that when people who weren't white were allowed to move into white neighborhoods, the whites sold off their properties at below market value just to get away from them driving down the value of the neighborhoods and opening it up to abuse. He looked at me kinda funny. I told him that in the "good old days" at least a third of the people in his school, would not have been allowed to go to his school. In the "good old days" one of his best friends couldn't have been his friend. I didn't go further and explain that he would have been taught to hate the boy as well based solely on the boys skin color.

Ah, yes, the fabulous '50s. Life was so much better then. Everything was neat and clean. We all knew our place and stayed there. There was no messy-ness to life. As my grandmother says, "Phooey."

This reminds me of my view of my childhood with my grandparents. But, in this case, instead of the suppression of the bad memories being a good thing, it's a white-wash. Have these people been watching too much classic TV? The '50s were lousy. Sure there were some good things, there are always good things in each generation, but the fact that non-whites were treated and viewed as less than human because of their skin color should make anyone with sense take what they can from the era, and leave it in the past. Who really wants to go back to the "good old days?" Was life really better when the only people who could get anywhere in life were rich white men? The '50s did bring about a more middle class lifestyle...mostly for whites, but the problems were huge and to ignore them and hearken back to those days as the days we wish were still here, well, I just think it's kind of foolish coz we always have to qualify it with "but not the racial stuff." What else was there? Was there something bigger going on?

I've stated before, somewhere but I can't remember which post, that we have to have something to hate. It is human nature. In the 50s we hated people who were a different skin color. Now we hate people who dress differently than we do. Seriously, we do. Yesterday I was at Trader Joe's and there were five boys in the parking lot. they had their stupid pants hanging down around their hips and the whole world could see their undies. I just rolled my eyes and shook my head and wondered when this ridiculous fashion would end. But this morning I wonder something different. I wonder, if it hadn't been the grocery store parking lot, but instead the church parking lot, or better, the church lobby, what would I have thought? If the five boys were to walk into your church tomorrow morning, what would happen? I have been to churches where the unthinkable would happen. They would be told, maybe in not so many words, that they were simply not welcome here unless they would hike up their pants, change their hair, cover their tats, and remove their piercings.

While we've come a far way from the racism that plagued human history up to this day, are we not just transferring our hate to another group...any group that is different from us?

Jesus sat and ate with the dirty people. The clean religious people looked down on Him. They still do. Every time we judge someone based on their appearance, every time we forget, or in some cases absolutely refuse, to see people as in need of our Savior instead of in need of a hair cut or 1950s style clothing we step into Pharisee-ism.

Jesus did not say faith, hope and fashion, the greatest of these is fashion.

It's not an easy change to make. Obviously, I still slip back into it easily enough. But when we do, I hope we can remind ourselves just how easy it is to hate. Anyone can hate. We need to love to be considered different from the world around us. To do this we need encouragement from our pastors and Sunday School teachers. If we are listening to sermons that seem to be sound in doctrine but inevitably must include some sort of jibe or sarcastic remark about people we disagree with, can we really say the pastor is encouraging us to love? If our Sunday School teachers can't have a conversation without dragging the name of someone who disagrees with them on any issue through the mud, can we say that we will not go and do likewise? When we place ourselves under the influence of leaders who hate (I know, they never call it that) we put ourselves at risk. Always remember, we are the monkeys in "monkey see, monkey do."

I'll close, finally ;), with the words of Christ from the passage that still scares me to death...though not now because I fear that I am one of the latter, but because of how close I came to being one of the latter (there but for the Grace of God...). "Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me."  Are we too busy keeping ourselves safe from the "riff-raff" to do what Christ has commanded us?