Saturday, August 4, 2012

Simple Abundance

I've neglected my blog for a while because life has recently been quite chaotic and stressful.  I'm having a quiet moment right now reflecting on some of the things in life that are not chaotic and stressful, so I thought I'd write a quick post about the things I'm thankful for today.

  • My friends are visiting with their children and (most) of our kids are playing happily outside.
  • I cleaned out my garage the other day.  I don't know who was happier--me or my husband!
  • I visited my much-neglected garden yesterday and found that it was producing lots of veggies without any help from me!  Even the overripe stuff will feed our chickens and be recycled into eggs.
  • Our chickens are producing more eggs than we can use, and lots of people have been happy to buy our surplus.
  • My health has seen some improvement lately.  I haven't written about this here before, but I have chronic fatigue that at the current time has no specific diagnosis.  A few good days with increased energy is a blessing indeed!
  • Lots of unfinished projects around our home are coming together nicely, including green things beginning to grow where all I could see was dirt from replacing our septic and pretty much excavating our entire backyard.
  • I'm beginning to formulate a plan for our homeschooling this year, where just days ago I was feeling nothing but confusion.
  • My husband just started a campfire and we're frying fish for dinner that he and my son caught yesterday.  The fire smells great, and the fish will taste even better!
  • My house is, um, a little bit less dirty than it was in the middle of all the dirt work.  I can't really say the same for my children, but I'm trying to be thankful for the little things!
  • Speaking of dirt, my children now have the world's biggest sandbox to dig in so they won't randomly excavate the rest of the backyard.  (Anyone else's little boys like to do this?)
  • Luke and I are looking forward to our 20th anniversary in less than two weeks.
  • We have a nice little roof over our heads, plenty of food to eat, and YHWH has sent abundant financial blessings in recent weeks to meet our needs before we even knew we had them!
Be blessed!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Listen to Annoying Peasant Radio Tonight!

Hey, our friends Tom and Brad will be hosting their Blogtalk Radio show again tonight (Tuesday), Annoying Peasant Radio, at 10pm central.  They'll be talking about today's recall election here in Wisconsin.  What do you think?  Is a recall election consistent with the philosophy of liberty?  If you decide to listen in, sign in and talk to me in the chat room during the show! 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Jury Duty, and Ron Paul in a Motorhome

Guess what?  I got a summons for jury duty!  Awesome, right?  Well, if you read my little blog or look at the links I post, you already know I'm not a big fan of the state.  Jury duty should be an interesting experience.  While I was searching around for some helpful info on the anti-statist take on jury duty, I stumbled across this great interview with Ron Paul from 2009.  I think this one's my all-time favorite, and you gotta love the motorhome!  It's only marginally related to jury duty, but interesting nonetheless.

So what to do about jury duty?  The easiest thing would be to get out of it altogether, so I called to let them know I'm a mother at home with young children and I have no child care available.  I do have teenagers who babysit occasionally, but I'm not really interested in drafting them into providing free babysitting services for the state.  They have better things to do.  I'm told it's pretty tough to get out of jury duty, though.  Hopefully if I have to go, once I share my views on government they'll send me on my way so I won't have to be put into an awkward situation.  I don't think I could give a guilty verdict and send someone to jail for a "crime" where there is no victim, such as a drug charge.  I don't believe a crime against "society" is a crime at all, even if it involves behavior that is wrong or just plain stupid.  If that sounds like an unusual idea to you, it might be helpful to read a two-part blog post my daughter wrote about crime:  So what are your thoughts about jury duty?  Any advice?     


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Correction...And More Shameless Promotion!

The Annoying Peasant Radio show alluded to in my last post has been rescheduled for this Thursday night, April 26, at the same time, 10:00 pm central.  (It will return to the Tuesday night time slot next week.)  Tom Dierl, one of the hosts of the show, leads a great discussion group we attend, and he does an amazing job of articulating the concept of liberty.  The discussions that have taken place in our group have caused me to completely reevaluate my political philosophy, so I would encourage you to give the show a listen!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Shameless Promotion!

I just wanted to put in a plug for our good friend Tom's new blogtalk radio show, Annoying Peasant Radio.  The show will air at 10:00 pm central Tuesday, April 24.  (Future shows will be in an earlier time slot.)  If you're interested in the concept of liberty, you won't want to miss this!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Haven't had much time for a new post lately, but this ad from a couple of years ago made me laugh today, so hopefully it will give you a smile too!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Choosing Homeschool Curriculum

With the unseasonably warm weather we've had here in Wisconsin (melting the two feet of snow we had dumped on us before that), I'm in the mood for curriculum planning.  That may sound a little odd, since September is months away, but when the spring thaw begins to draw my kids' attention outside after a long northwoods winter, we get anxious to wrap up the planned part of our schooling for the year.  Usually when this happens we only have a few weeks left and we hurry to finish up and take advantage of our short but beautiful summers.  Spring is early this year so we still have ten weeks of lessons to finish, but nevertheless, the smell of spring in the air and the arrival of colorful curriculum catalogs in the mail always gets my gears turning.

Actually, I've found that spring is the perfect time to plan for fall because it's the time when I'm the most realistic about what's really necessary and what's not.  The curriculum I was completely jazzed about in early fall, no matter how awesome, can become dullsville by March.  Planning at the time of year when my children and I are the least interested in school helps me to be more objective and stick to a reasonable budget.  It's also a great time to take advantage of sales offered by curriculum providers or to start watching e-bay for deals.

I thought I'd share a little bit about my priorities for curriculum planning in hopes that it will be helpful to those who are homeschooling or considering the idea.  I've been at this for nearly twelve years now, so I can offer lots of advice, but I don't believe anyone qualifies as a curriculum planning "expert".  Each homeschooling family is unique and what works for me may not be a good fit for your family.  I'll try to list what I consider to be the most important things to consider in choosing.  I'll also share more specifically what we use for curriculum, but I'll probably save that for another post.

Things to Consider Before Choosing:

Since I'm a serious bibliophile (or "book hoarder" as my loving family has labeled me), I'd like to start with a warning, especially for the new homeschooler.  I highly recommend considering the following before you open the pretty catalog or peruse the wonderful website.  Gone are the old days when homeschoolers had to search to find curriculum appropriate for home use.  There is so much stuff out there you will quickly be overwhelmed if you don't know what you're after, and you can easily overspend your budget without getting what you really need.

1.  Determine your purpose
It's important to consider the big picture before you choose.  For our family, we consider knowing God and forming a biblical worldview to be the purpose of our homeschooling.  While quality curriculum may be helpful, I always remind myself each year that if all I had no curriculum at all other than the Bible we would still be able to fulfill our purpose.  That means that all the curriculum choices out there are really "wants" rather than "needs".  Keeping this in mind helps me to keep it all in perspective and think about which resources best help us to fulfill our purpose.

An example of a curriculum option that does not fit our purpose for homeschooling is the current movement toward government-funded charter schools.  While public schools used to oppose homeschoolers, they seem to have adopted an "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" approach.  This means if you are a homeschooler, you will be presented with multiple options for receiving "free" (meaning taxpayer-funded) curriculum and computers if you enroll.  This is lucrative for the schools because they receive additional funding for increasing enrollment.  They can then pass some of the funds on to the homeschooling family with the parent providing free labor as the teacher, and the district can keep the rest for other purposes.  Because enrolling in a public charter school involves the redistribution of wealth and because it requires turning the supervision of our children's education over to a government authority, this type of curriculum option does not fit our family's values.  This applies even if the charter school allows Christian materials, since the overarching purpose of government schooling does not align with ours.

2.  Consider your teaching style and your child's learning style
If you are a new homeschooler you may be unfamiliar with this, but my experience is that I am constantly working to strike a balance between the way I like to teach and the way my children learn best.  With five school-age children, we have a lot of styles represented!  Of course, the children I find easiest to teach are the ones whose learning styles best match mine, and the most challenging are those who are my opposite.  It can be frustrating (and expensive) when a curriculum that you love just isn't working for one of your children, so doing your homework before purchasing can help you to find something that's a good fit for teacher and student.  I would highly recommend reading The Way They Learn by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias.  This book has been invaluable to me in understanding myself, my children, and even my husband!

3.  Consider your budget
This may be a no-brainer, but if you've fallen in love with an expensive online curriculum that will require going into debt to enroll, it's not the choice for you.  Homeschooling doesn't have to be expensive, and with creativity it can even be done nearly for free.  I don't skimp on the stuff I consider important, but I find new ways to save all the time.  Amazon is a great source for quality used books, and many homeschoolers sell like-new curriculum on e-bay.

4.  Determine if you're looking for a complete curriculum or if you'd rather pick and choose
New homeschoolers typically start off with a "canned" curriculum until they gain some experience.  This can be a big help, provided you choose carefully.  Ready-to-use curriculum packages come in many different "flavors" and prices.  If you want something traditional that's used by Christian schools, then A Beka or BJU Press might work best for you.  Accelerated Christian Education and Lifepac are examples of a workbook-based approach.  If you prefer "living books" to traditional textbooks, there are still many options for complete curriculum.  Sonlight, My Father's World, and Tapestry of Grace are examples of this approach.  There are also a lot of computer-based programs available, both online and cd-rom based.  Alpha Omega offers both, and there are many others.

If you'd rather cherry-pick individual subjects, it can still be helpful to look at what's included in the ready-to-use curriculum packages to get ideas.  If I know the approach of a certain curriculum provider fits my style of homeschooling, I may find individual books that meet my needs without buying everything they offer, and I might even be able to find used copies on Amazon.  (A caution:  used workbooks may have some writing and still be labeled "good" condition.)

My approach is a hybrid one.  I like to use a Sonlight core to teach Bible, history, read-aloud books, and sometimes science to as many of my children as possible in one group with the younger ones listening in.  Then I pick and choose math, reading, language arts, handwriting, and spelling for each individual child as needed.

5.  Be realistic about your lifestyle and time constraints
The best curriculum in the world won't do much good if it doesn't fit your lifestyle.  I have purchased beautiful books that no one learned anything from because we didn't have time to read them.  Try to look realistically at how much time is available for "school" each day, how much help you'll have, and how much time is needed for all the other stuff in your life.  The first year I used Sonlight Core D I had two school-age children, a new baby, and a very busy husband. I was determined to read every one of the excellent books in the program.  As a result, we didn't have much time for math and English, and I ended up so far behind we took two years to finish the core.  I now have many more children to teach, plus additional preschoolers, and I still have a very busy husband.  I have to be ruthless about prioritizing so that we have time to complete what I've planned.  I also schedule everything for just four days a week.  After all, we have to buy groceries and clean the house sometime (quite often in our household)!

6.  Consider your state's homeschooling laws
I know many will consider state law as a starting point for homeschool planning.  I place it at the bottom of the priority list for several reasons. First, I believe parents are the authority in a child's education, not the state.  Second, for this reason I believe in starting with determining your own goals and priorities before considering state requirements.  Thirdly, I live in Wisconsin, which has a homeschooling law that is very easy to comply with.  I fill out a form each year with my school-age children's gender and ages stating that I am complying with state law and that is my only contact with school authorities.  If your state has tougher requirements you will have to do your homework to make sure you're complying with the law, but even if that is the case, remember that pleasing the state is not your ultimate purpose.  I comply with state law merely to be left alone, and nothing more.  Homeschool Legal Defense Association is a resource for finding out what's required by law for homeschooling in your state.

I'd like to share what we use for curriculum so you can see an example of how this might work for a larger family, but I think I'll save that for my next post.

Happy planning!

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Annoying Peasant

I wanted to share this video, "The Annoying Peasant", because it makes me laugh and because it was mentioned last night at our liberty discussion group.  Our good friend Tom is starting a Blog Talk Radio show by the same name, so I'll be looking forward to sharing that soon.  We had a great time last night discussing the topics of self-ownership and private property, meeting some new people, and just laughing a lot.  I can't think of a better way to spend a Thursday evening out!  

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Relearning American History

I've been working on a project lately, which is most of the reason I haven't written anything in a while.  I'm really more of a researcher than a writer, but I've been trying to get to the point where I can share some of what I've been learning.

This project started with a conversation I had with a fellow Christian homeschooler.  We are pretty like-minded on our view of government, and she asked me for advice on how to teach American history.  She was particularly wondering what the truth is about the Founding Fathers and what to teach our kids about them.  I had to confess that I had some of the same questions, and since I'm planning on teaching the American History program from Sonlight Curriculum to my younger children next year, I decided it was high time I reeducated myself on the topic.  It's been quite a few years since I've used this history curriculum and my views on government have changed a lot since then.

I first went to to get the "outside the box" view of American history.  I listened to Tom Woods' lecture series, The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History, which is based on his book by the same name.  (I couldn't read the book for free on Mises, but I found it available on interlibrary loan--just a note for the cheapskates like me!).  I had also recently listened to the audiobook of Our Enemy, the State by Albert J. Nock (also an e-book).  Both of these gave me the alternative view of  U.S.history and the Founding Fathers and I felt like I had a good start on my preparation for teaching.

Then my research took an odd turn.  A friend in my homeschool group recommended I attend a Bible study where they would be going through David Barton's Wallbuilders materials on American history.  I thought that sounded pretty interesting since I had always heard good things about Wallbuilders, until a few days later when I heard something I found quite disturbing.

I hadn't really set out to investigate David Barton, but a few days later I happened to be listening to Brannon Howse's Worldview Weekend Radio.  The show was about Kirk Cameron's new documentary, Monumental:  In Search of America's National Treasure.  The movie is apparently about promoting America's Christian heritage and a return to the nation's founding principles.  The radio show was critical of the fact that the National Monument to the Forefathers was a big focus of the film.  The monument was financed by Freemasons and contains many pagan symbols, and therefore could hardly be used to promote any kind of Christian ideal.  I found that pretty disturbing in itself, but I was shocked at something else I heard on the show.  David Barton is featured in the Monumental movie, and Howse played a clip of a radio interview where Barton says that conservative radio personality Glenn Beck (a Mormon) is a born-again Christian.

Okay, so now I was really questioning this idea of "returning America to her godly heritage", as if I wasn't questioning it enough already.  Mormonism is not biblical Christianity, and if we're so desperate to return to our "founding principles" we're willing to compromise the truth to do it, well, I've got a big problem with that.  Now, don't misunderstand me.  I have Mormon friends and I love them, and if Barton wants to partner with Glenn Beck to promote some kind of political agenda, that's his choice, but if his agenda is to return the nation to its "Christian" heritage, then redefining Christianity to include Mormonism is not the way to do it.  Barton is either deceived or engaging in deception.  Now, Barton's Wallbuilders materials promote the idea that the Founding Fathers were Christians and that they intended to create a Christian form of government.  Well, if Barton doesn't know the definition of a Christian, then he can't be the person to trust to determine what the faith of the Founding Fathers was, if any.  Investigating Barton further, I found that there are a lot of people out there claiming he doesn't have his facts straight about the founders.

Now this idea of a "Christian heritage" was really bugging me.  Many of my Christian friends tell me that the founders were godly men and they villify those who claim that they were anything other than devout Christians.  They also criticize public schools for engaging in "revisionist history" and erasing any reference to the Christian faith from classrooms.  Well, folks, it looks like it's possible we're promoting some revisionist history of our own.  I just want the truth, and I definitely don't want to teach my children anything that's false!  So, just exactly what is the truth?

I had heard Chris Pinto of Noise of Thunder Radio and knew that he had a video, The Hidden Faith of the Founding Fathers, so I dug around and found the entire 3-hour video on Youtube.  This was some eye-opening stuff!  Pinto challenges the idea that the founders were Christians and gives information about the beliefs of Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Paine from their own writings and the testimony of others.  Now, you may not agree with everything in this film, but this is a great resource for getting the other side of the story.

So, long story short, here's where I'm at with all of this.  I don't believe the framers of our Constitution were Christians, or that they intended to create a biblical form of government.  They were enlightenment thinkers and rationalists who held the god of reason above any other deity.  While they approved of biblical morality and were publicly religious (just like most politicians of today), they privately denied any belief in biblical Christianity.  I'm also seriously questioning the validity of trying to return our country to some kind of Christian ideal of the past, and what would be the purpose of it if we did.  As I'm observing what's happening with the American church, it seems that educating people about our Christian heritage has become more important than preaching the gospel.  But knowing our heritage, godly or not, can't save anyone; a constitution can't save anyone;  electing Christians to office can't save anyone; and being good, moral citizens can't save anyone.  Only turning to God and believing in His Son can bring salvation.

As I look at this patriotic Christianity, I wonder about the theology behind it all.  There seems to be this idea that believers should be working to bring about the Kingdom of God on earth by our own power in preparation for Christ's return.  I'm not sure if I really understand it, but I've seen enough to know I don't share that theology.

I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
1 Cor. 15:50

Jesus said,  "My kingdom is not of this world.  If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews.  But now my kingdom is from another place."
John 18:36

So, I've answered some questions, but now I have some new ones.  Maybe that will be a topic for another post.  Hopefully I'm ready to tackle teaching American history again.  One thing's for sure, I learn as much or more than my kids do when I know I'm responsible to teach them.  It should be an interesting adventure continuing to relearn history with my family.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Dishwater University: Something Fun

No, the fun thing is not having bourbon for breakfast.  I personally wouldn't know, but I have been having some fun listening to this audio book from the Mises Institute.  It's also available as an e-book.  I had a busy day today with lots of cooking, baking, and household chores to do, and this book has been entertaining me while I've been working.  I've been listening to and reading some heavy (for me, anyway) stuff lately, and I was just looking for something lighter for a break.  This fit the bill perfectly.  (I also really love donuts and I thought the cover was cool.)  It's a series of thirty-one essays on a variety of topics related to living in a world where statism is everywhere you turn.  

I started off listening to this in the bathroom as I got ready for my day, and I was cracking up as Tucker explains how to defeat government regulations by hacking your showerhead, and other ways that the  government has made their way into your bathroom.  I was giggling while cleaning out my kitchen sink as I listened to the chapter called "The Great Drain Debacle", where he describes a monumental battle with his garbage disposal.  Some of the essays are more serious, but all are thought-provoking.  You'll laugh and hopefully learn something at the same time.


Monday, March 5, 2012

Northwoods Recipe: Venison Stew

This is what we're having for dinner tonight.  It's a family favorite, and I like it because it's easy, it's cheap (if you're a hunter, anyway), and it makes a lot!  It's the perfect northwoodsy winter meal for those of us who are buried in snow.  I'll give the amounts I use just for fun, but you can cut it in half if you need less.

1/4c. (4 tbs.) olive oil
4 lbs. venison or other stew meat
4 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4c. (4 tbs.) worchestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. oregano
2 tbs. salt
pepper to taste
6c. water
10 c. potatoes (peeled and cubed)
2 lbs. carrots
1/2c. flour (plus approx. equal amount of water)

Deeply brown meat in oil.  Add onions, garlic, worchestershire sauce, bay leaves, oregano, salt, pepper, and water.  Simmer, covered for 1 1/2-2 hours or until meat is tender.  Add potatoes and carrots;  cook until tender.  Combine flour with a little water;  stir in to thicken.  Remove bay leaves and serve.

While I was preparing this, I threw some bones from the venison into a big pot on the back of the stove, added some onions, garlic, and salt, and left it to simmer overnight.  I'll keep this on for about 24 hrs. or so until it makes a rich broth that will be the base for a big pot of soup later this week.  I'll try to post that recipe later!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Liberty is Community

My family meets regularly with a discussion group that covers all things related to the topic of liberty.  I learn a lot from these discussions, and our last meeting was no exception.  A new member of the group brought up something that really got me thinking.  He stated that he thought that people should have their basic human needs taken care of:  food, clothing, shelter, etc.  After a little bit of discussion, it became apparent that he was a very compassionate person who was concerned that without at least minimal government intervention, people who are poor or unable to care for themselves would be abandoned with no one to take care of them.

Interesting question, isn't it?  At least I thought so.  Think about it for a minute.  What if there was no government?  Is it really true that without government as we now know it, masses of people would find themselves starving and homeless?  I have to confess that for a while now, this has been a conundrum for me in evaluating my beliefs about government.  Although I disagree with most, if not all, of the actions of current governments, deep-down I had the same concerns as my new discussion group friend.  Without some kind of government structure, where is the justice for the weakest members of society?  Wouldn't a stateless society be a world where the strong oppress the weak and chaos reigns?  It would be survival-of-the-fittest with the weak and powerless simply being left to die, right?

Let me stop for a second and define my terms.  When I say "government" or "the state", I'm not merely talking about leadership or organization, I'm talking about a group of people in a society who have the ability to use force to control the behavior of others in the society.  Maybe others would define it differently, but for the purposes of this discussion that's what I'm referring to here.  Does a society require someone with guns to force them to care for others, or could a completely free society accomplish this?  What is actually necessary in a society to assure that people's basic needs are met?

I have a hard time with big, philosophical questions like this unless I have a practical example, so during our discussion group and afterward I was thinking of people I know who have fallen on hard times and needed help, and times when I've received help from others myself.  I was thinking about what happens when we help each other compared to what happens when government steps in.

The first example I thought of is a good friend of mine who is a single mom of three little ones.  We get together often and I have at times raided my pantry and sent her home with some extra groceries, or we have had their family over for a meal.  I buy in bulk for my large family, so I can share some of my savings with her.  I suppose I could just pay my taxes and she could just go get food stamps, which she could easily qualify for, but I think we would both miss out on a blessing if we relied on government to help.  One really cool thing I would miss out on is the fact that my friend is a much better cook than I am and she cooks for us when we eat together!  She also likes to clean and has even been known to come over and clean my bathroom, which for someone like me, whose love language is "acts of service", is the ultimate expression of love!  The point is, by helping each other, we build relationships and community, something that government can't accomplish by simply handing out checks.

Another example is an online friend of mine who shared a story about a time when her husband was out of work and they had very little food in their house.  A neighbor, suspecting that they were out of food, actually called social services to tattle on them.  A social worker showed up at their door and told them that if they didn't sign up for government assistance their children would be removed from the home.  The social worker gave her a ride and helped her fill out the paperwork to avoid having her children taken away.

This story is bizarre on many levels, but it showed me how messed up things get when we become accustomed to relying on government to meet basic needs.  Do you suppose my friend's neighbor even considered the idea of dropping off a bag of groceries instead of reporting her?  How about the social worker who gave her a ride and helped her with paperwork?  Do you think it crossed her mind to give her a ride to the store instead and buy her some food?  How do you suppose it made my friend feel to have this experience compared to how she would have felt if someone would have met her need without involving government?

When I look at these examples, it seems obvious to me that government can't do what community and relationships can do, and that our dependence on government kills community.  I had struggled with how to write about this, but a blog post and comments I read from blogger friends Tim and David helped me to see it more clearly.  It was pointed out that before we had so many government services available to us, there was a much greater demand for charity and kindness, so the supply of those things rose to meet the demand.  People knew how to support each other.  I hear many people complain about how people don't help each other out like they used to, but what do we expect?  The need to build community is eliminated when there is a government program for every need, and we're left with neighbors who don't even know each other and a whole lot of people complaining about welfare recipients taking their hard-earned money (I know you get those forwarded e-mails too).  If the goal of that system is cutting people off from all possible support systems, making them dependent, and creating class warfare, then it's working great.  If the goal is to actually meet people's needs, it's an utter failure.  We won't have community until we have liberty.  How do we get liberty?  Well, that's another question I ponder often.  If you're asking it too, the video in my previous post might be helpful.      

The Philosophy of Liberty

This is probably the simplest explanation of liberty I have ever seen.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Another Dishwater University Course Offering: The Great Church Audit

These podcasts from Jim Staley are what I've been listening to lately.  Actually, I'm going through them with my husband and I've been listening over again while doing dishes and chores.  There is a lot to this, and it's challenging stuff, but it's well worth the investment of time.  Here is the description of the series from the website:

What is Sin?
The question might sound simple, but the answer might just surprise you!  This is one of the most popular teachings Jim has ever done and is now available on Podomatic!  This is an in-depth 5 hour teaching that starts with an exhaustive definition of sin.  Then, a full explanation of all the covenants in the Old Testament and how they affect the New Covenant.  Then, he ends the series by going through virtually every single verse in the New Testament that has been misunderstood concerning Paul, Jesus, and the Law of God.  This is a MUST for every serious student of the Bible.  If you know someone who has a hard time believing that the Torah is for today, THIS is the series for them as it is a very methodical, apologetic look at the entire Bible from the Hebraic perspective.

My family has had an interest in the Hebraic roots of our faith for awhile now, and while this particular teaching series is new to us, we have been greatly blessed by Passion for Truth Ministries and Jim Staley's teaching.  If you've ever wondered what the Hebrew-Roots Movement is all about (as we did), I would encourage you to check out everything they have available for free on their website, Youtube, and Podomatic.

Here's a little added bonus if you think that all this study of the Old Testament is dry and boring, or that it leads to rigid legalism.  This is a video of some great (in my opinion, anyway) worship music from Passion for Truth.  Notice the dancers in front!:

I Surrender--PFT Worship Team

Hope you enjoy the links! 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

DHS's See Something, Say Something Campaign

This is a video promoting Homeland Security's "See Something, Say Something" campaign encouraging people to spy on their fellow citizens.  I find it hard to believe this is for real, but I checked it out and it's a real $10 million ad campaign.  Disturbing.  It just seems like things are changing quickly in this country and I wonder where it's all going.  Think I'm going to focus on non news-related topics today because this stuff is discouraging.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Something Strange Happened In Nevada

I'm going to talk some politics, even though most of the time I prefer to discuss my beliefs about government (political philosophy), rather than the specifics of the current political game.  

I mentioned in a comment on my last post that I am a Ron Paul supporter.  I also alluded to my belief that, while Dr. Paul's ideas are having an influence on Americans' view of government, the "powers-that-be" will never allow him to appear on a major party ticket.  While that may put me into the ranks of conspiracy theorists, I believe that the powerful group of politicians and corporate special interests at the top determine what choices we, the "proletariat", are offered at the ballot box.  A selection from either party is acceptable, as long as corporate interests and the warfare state are well-represented, so that there is no real transfer of power.  

A candidates' ownership by corporate interests is easy enough to secure;  just purchase his loyalty with huge donations.  (Go ahead and Google the leading candidates' top campaign contributors if you're not convinced.)  The support for perpetual war is also important because people who are convinced of its necessity to protect their safety are easier to control and extract money from.  

We can choose Democrat or Republican, and bicker over the scraps from the table all we want, as long as no actual regime change takes place.  If we don't like the figurehead that's out front, we will be given the opportunity to choose a new president from acceptable options.  The people will get all fired up, choose a new leader, breathe a sigh of relief at dodging the bullet of socialism, or evil corporate greed, and go on about their business just trying to live their lives on what's left of their paychecks, unaware that socialism and corporate greed march on alive and well, and that their "important election" actually changed nothing.  This is why I hold the unpopular view that voting means very little, and that we will not be able to vote ourselves out of socialism or corporatism.  At this point, I see our two-party system as merely an illusion to keep the masses persuaded that they are choosing for themselves.

Before you start throwing tomatoes at me, let me at least point out that I was inspired to write about this because of an article I read this morning,  Ron Paul’s Nevada Disappointment: Apathy? or Fraud? by Joel McDurmon.  The article pointed out that Ron Paul's disappointing third place finish in the Nevada caucus was a bizarre anomaly.  This graph showing Paul's statistics from the 2008 and 2012 caucuses speaks for itself:     

So what happened in Nevada?  Paul's support has increased by at least 87% over 2008 in every caucus so far.  His team had made 100,000 phone calls in the days before the caucus, and they had identified up to 24,000 committed voters.  They expected at least an easy second place result, and possibly a big win.  As you can see, only a fourth of those voters showed up, a mere 1% increase over the 2008 vote.  Maybe there was a big sale at Penneys and they just forgot.  After all, Paul's supporters are known to be a pretty apathetic lot, right?  I won't even insult your intelligence by trying to convince you that something's fishy here.

I don't think the political and corporate elites are worried about a third-party run by Ron Paul.  Their major concern is to make sure he is not chosen as the Republican candidate.  Typically, all a third-party candidate can do is to pull votes away from major party candidates.  As long as they don't defeat the two-party illusion and actually win the election, they are nothing more than a distraction.  The people believe that democracy has prevailed, and the status quo goes on unimpeded.

I know, I know...I sound so bitter and negative.  I hate that.  So what's the positive in this?  The positive is that unexpected things sometimes happen.  Sometimes it's election results, but surprising changes can come from other sources too.  Never underestimate the power of one man standing on his principles and speaking out, no matter who labels him a kook, or an isolationist, or "unelectable" (What are those crazy Texans thinking, electing a man who's unelectable over, and over, and over?).  I believe many people are listening, but changes in ideology take longer than just a couple of election cycles.

The most common thing I hear is,  "I like Ron Paul, but I disagree with his foreign policy."  That tells me that Paul's ideas are having an influence, but for some reason people still hold on to their pro-war ideology.  I keep asking myself why war is the sticking point for so many, and why we like it so much.  Is it because we're afraid of terrorism?  According to law enforcement, potential home-grown terrorists are apparently lurking on every corner right here (You know, those Ron Paul supporters, gun-rights advocates, "sovereign citizens", pro-lifers), so I'm not sure if that's it.  Maybe for evangelicals it's because we want to support Israel, but we seem to have no problem supporting her enemies when it's convenient, so I'm not convinced that's it.

Somehow this idea of empire-building all over the world seems to be all wrapped up in the flag and patriotism and sealed with a cross.  To borrow a phrase from a friend, we "put a God sticker on it".  This ideology  persists in spite of the fact that it's bankrupting us and causing other nations to despise us, which actually makes us less safe.  You can see that it smacks of religion when it supersedes the Bible itself.  When Ron Paul suggested in one of the debates that we should follow the Golden Rule in our foreign relations and do unto others as we'd want them to do to us, he was booed!  I have to wonder how many of those Republicans that were booing the scriptures are Christians.  So just what God is it that we follow in this "Christian" nation?  I have to admit, the war-mongering still has me baffled.  If I sort it out, I guess that will have to be a topic for another post.

I think that's enough politics and crazy conspiracy-theorist ramblings for now, so I will think on these things some more and get back to you.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Something Else to Make Your Brain Itch

I've been spending a lot of time lately studying and reevaluating my beliefs about government.  I'm sure I'll be writing more about that, but tonight I'm having trouble sleeping and I was reminded of something I hadn't thought about in a while, so I thought I'd share it.  It was a question that kind of rocked my world early on in my journey.

The question has to do with the American Revolution.  Now we all know that this was a war fought to throw off tyranny and injustice, and that after the colonists' victory, they wrote a constitution and became a new nation.  The question that was posed to me was this:  After they won the war and achieved independence from a tyrannical government, why didn't they just go home to their colonies and live as free men?

But, wait a minute!  I'm a Patriotic American Christian!  Are you suggesting that they could've just skipped the Constitutional Convention altogether?  No president?  No congress?  No supreme court?  Blasphemy!  Or maybe not...oh, quit asking me such hard questions!  (This is me inside my own head.)

And another related question I've more recently been asking myself:  When it's time to vote for the next president, should I just write in "No, thank you."?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Dishwater University

I do not have a dishwasher.  I have nine people in my family.  In the division of labor around here, I am the designated dishwasher.  This means I spend a lot of time standing at my kitchen sink.  It is boring.  I have decided to make the best of this tedious task, so I've started something I like to call  "Dishwater University".  I set up my computer next to where I'm working, plug in a set of speakers, and play audio or video messages that I find educational.  My recent favorites have been Passion for Truth Ministries and the Mises Institute, which I've placed links to there on the right side of the page.

Today's class was an audio book from the Mises Institute called "Our Enemy The State" by Albert Jay Nock.  I was so enthralled with this book that I kept having to grab my pencil and post-it note pad with my drippy hands to write something down.  By the time I was done with the dishes, there were green post-its covered with notes stuck all over everything!  Wow, I am a nerd.

A couple of quotes from the book description on the Mises site:

"What does one need to know about politics? In some ways, Nock has summed it all up in this astonishing book, the influence of which has grown every year since its publication."

"It is the ultimate handbook of the political dissident. If you aren't one yet, you may find that Nock is a very persuasive recruiter into his informed army that makes up the remnant who know."

The gist of the book is a contrast between social power (the power of society to order itself) and state power.  I've only listened to Parts 1 and 2 so far, but if you want to get your brain itching (Thank you Tim, if you're reading this, for coining the phrase), I highly recommend this book!  I have been studying the topics of government and political philosophy and how it all relates to the Bible (so much to learn), and this is giving me much food for thought.  I'm working on a blog post about this, but that may take a bit longer.

I'm sure I'll have more to share from the Dishwater University class schedule in the future!

Raising Young Men (or Just a Cute Story About My Kids!)

Let me set up the story for you.  Josiah is my just-turned-4-year-old, Naomi is my 6-year-old, and Will is my 9-year-old.  My kids have been outside helping Dad with firewood and playing in the snow for hours.

Josiah comes inside holding his snowy mitten in his hand.  He says,  "My glub fell off.  Can you help me put it back on?"  While I'm doing that, he spots an open bag of baby carrots I'm snacking on.  He asks,  "Can me have a carrot?"  I hand him a carrot and he heads happily back outside.

A little while later he's back again, once again with the mitten in his hand.  He asks again if I can help.  While I'm putting the mitten on him, he asks,  "Can me have two carrots?"  So I hand him two carrots and once again he heads out the door.

A few minutes later, he comes back in.  This time he says,  "Me told a lie.  Me took off my glub myself.  Naomi wanted a carrot."  Choking back laughter, I give him a hug and tell him I'm proud of him for telling the truth and remind him that he can just ask if someone wants a carrot.  He of course asks for more carrots, then heads back out the door once again.  As he's tromping out the door into the snow he says,  "Will told me to come tell the truth."

Oh, the joys of being a mom!  :)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Politically-Incorrect Marriage Advice

Ephesians 5:22-33

New International Version (NIV)
 22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

This passage in Ephesians is one of the most oft-quoted passages on marriage in the Bible and many have written about what it means.  "Submission" is one of those dirty words that gets us into trouble and a lot of controversy.  Usually the discussion goes to one extreme or the other--either the focus is on the iron-clad rule of a wife's submission, or it's the other extreme of how we're just supposed to submit to each other (The verse before this says, "Submit to one another out of reverence to Christ.")  I really have no interest in those controversies here because I think when we have these arguments we're missing the point of what was being taught.  Suffice it to say that I believe in submitting to my husband's leadership, and if you're interested in arguing about whether I should or not, you can find lots of other places to hash that out online.

So, now that we have the controversy out of the way I can get back to my point.  The point is that I think we often miss the point!  What I see here is God's helpful instruction cluing us in to the greatest needs of our spouse.  We're getting some valuable information here!  Could it be possible that we don't have a clue how to meet the needs of a person of the opposite sex and that we need some help with that?  So what are the instructions we're being given?  Well, for husbands it's to love your wife, treat her with great care, and sacrifice yourself for her.  For wives, it is the instruction to follow your husband's lead and give him your respect.  (This implies that men and women are different and have different needs.  Another politically-incorrect idea, but nevertheless, true.)    

One problem we often have is that we don't read our own instructions!  Husbands are often preoccupied with getting their wives to respect them and submit, and wives are busy pointing out all the ways their husbands fall short and are not worthy of their respect.  I think we can benefit most from this passage by letting our spouse worry about their own instructions while we focus in on what was written to us specifically.  After all, the overarching theme is to submit to the other person and put their needs ahead of your own.  

I can personally testify that when you simply follow your own instructions, you can see miraculous changes in your marriage.  Trying to change your spouse is about like banging your head against a brick wall anyway, so there's not much point.  Yourself however, well, that's something you can do something about!  I have more times than I care to admit, gone to God lamenting all the ways my husband isn't meeting my needs.  The answer that always comes back is this:

Matthew 7:3-5

New International Version (NIV)
   3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Ouch!  The Lord always reminds me to first look at whether I'm following my own instructions.  There is a time and a place to talk to my husband about my needs, but this works a lot better when he can see that I'm making a sincere effort to do my part in the relationship.

So that's my best politically-incorrect marriage advice:  read the instructions!

My favorite resource for learning about marriage is Love and Respect Ministries.  If you are married or ever plan to be, I highly recommend this site and the resources there.  If you are one of my single friends and you get married, their book or audio book will probably be your wedding gift!

I'm hoping to write some more on marriage soon--specifically on wives respecting their husbands.  I'd also love to get to the topics of liberty and political philosophy (Political philosophy, not politics.  There's a difference.  Perhaps that should be my first topic!).  There's just so much to say on this, I'm working on where to start, so I'm open to suggestions!  

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

12 Things Moms of Big Families May Want You to Know

I read this today and it gave me a chuckle, so I thought I'd share.  It's too funny and too true.  I wish I had written it!

Monday, January 30, 2012

What do you Believe...Really?

We say we believe a lot of things, but what do we really mean when we use this word?  Does it mean that we agree with an idea or "think" that it's true?  Is a belief something that exists only in our minds, or does it have something to do with our actions?

My friend, Tim, in a recent blog post (in referring to Gary Chapman's book, "The 5 Love Languages"), shared that his "love language" is words of affirmation.  An "atta boy" can keep him going for a long time.  I got to thinking about this and realized I'm just the opposite.  I tend to feel that words are empty unless they are accompanied by actions.  This love language has been called "acts of service".  Actions mean a lot to me.  My husband, who loves words of affirmation, can tell me all day long that I'm an amazing woman (And he does--often.  I really should appreciate him more!), but if he says it while I'm doing dishes and he doesn't grab a towel, well, the words ring pretty hollow to me.

Maybe that's why the topic of beliefs is interesting to me.  I hear people say a lot of things, but because of my particular love language, I'm always watching their actions to see if they really mean it.  I can relate to the apostle James, when he said,  "Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do."  To me, the advice to live what you believe is just plain silly.  You will live what you believe.  You can say whatever you want, but your actions will rat you out every time!

Lest you think I'm just preaching here, I have my own struggles with hypocrisy.  This was pointed out to me once again last night as I was talking with my friend, Cassandra.  I was fretting over what to do about something (I'm the queen of internal conflict), and I said to her,  "I really believe...".  She commented,  "You still have a lot of cognitive dissonance over this!"  Boom!  Stated belief not lining up with actions.  I was claiming to believe something, yet still fretting over whether to act on it.  Truth is, I don't know if I really believe what I said.  Back to the drawing board.  I will know what to do when I finally decide what I believe.

So, what do you believe...really?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

To Blog or Not to Blog...

I guess if you're reading this I've already answered the question, but I created this blog a long time ago and never posted anything until now.  It's not that I didn't have anything to say. I think about a lot of things I could write about, but I read, watch, and listen to a lot of different sources and it seems like every topic I could write on has already been covered pretty well by someone else.  If you want information about a topic, I could easily connect you with some great resources to learn about it (I'm kind of geeky that way), but that would not be my original thoughts. There are a lot of bloggers out there; do I really have something new to add that hasn't been done better by someone else? After all, I'm a mom at home with seven kids.  I don't get out much.  Is my life and random thoughts really all that interesting? What would be my purpose in putting one more blog out there?

As I thought about this and was encouraged by friends, both online and in "real life", I realized that my passion is finding truth and then living that truth out in my day to day life.  My life may not look like yours, but if my thoughts and experiences encourage you in some way to seek truth and walk it out in your own life and in your own way, using your unique God-given gifts and talents, then I have found a purpose in blogging.  So, God-willing, here goes...