Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Wall-e Review ***** (5 Stars :)

I took Strike & her friend to see Wall-e yesterday. I gather many kids don't like itall that much - which probably explains why I liked it so(!) much :) I think some kids don't like it b/c it forces them to think - for themselves - (ouch?!) -to understand it - as opposed to being "purely" entertained -- which is precisely what the movie underscores so well by very creatively illustrating that the more we cave in to comfort & convenience, the more we hand over control of our personal lives & society in general to an "elite" few....& soon we're fat, lazy, & expecting/think we deserve (selfish!) everything we want or think we need to be handed to us - to the point that we forget how to think & take care of ourselves --& we even lose the desire to ... that's the really scary part. Tho' you don't have to see Wall-e to see "all of that" (just look around!), go see it anyway - w/ your kids... & talk about it afterward. Might be the most interesting conversation you've had with them in a while :) I think certain people should be required to watch it.... middle & high school students, the woman who sued McDonald's b/c she spilled hot coffee on herself & was burned, anyone who is physically/mentally able to work but doesn't want to b/c they'll lose too many government benefits (handouts!) &/or their disability check - that they don't even have to walk to the mailbox to get - because it's (oh sooo conveniently!) direct deposited right into their bank account...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Simply Complex (elegant!)Treasure Hunt

Proverbs 2:3-5 ...and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding , and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.

Things in nature are often used in the Bible to illustrate more about Jesus (God!) & ourselves. So by studying both what God created (nature/Science) - & His written Word/the Bible - together - it seems we'd better understand the nature of God & what He wants us to be like.

Just one example: Ps. 1 compares the blessed man to a tree ... planted by streams of water, which yields fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers...

Trees need light & water. The Bible tells us Jesus is the Light of the World & in John 4: Jesus answered, ...but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." By really studying water & light - and photosynthesis - we'd better understand what that all means & why we need Jesus in much the same way.

The blessed man being like a tree that bears fruit (sign of maturing trees) causes me to consider that as we grow in Christ, we should naturally bear the fruits of the Spirit. Gal 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. ...

Reading further in v. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. While studying trees myself, I learned that tho' a tree is alive/growing, the center of the trunk is dead wood called heartwood. Thru' an amazing process, as things called xylem & phloem produce new layers over the years, old xylem gets plugged up & dies/becomes heartwood. But - tho' it's dead, heartwood strengthens the tree & helps it stand strong.

Heartwood seems very similar to our sinful nature. Romans 6:11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Much like the dead heartwood of a tree, if our sinful nature is dead, we still live w/ it our whole lives. Sometimes it takes all the strength we can muster to stand strong/do what's right. We know from the Bible that God's children have the power to overcome sinful desires by doing what's right - so there's no excuse to keep on sinning. Each time we choose to do right, we grow stronger in our faith. Yet God knows just b/c we trust Him as Savior doesn't mean we'll be perfectly obedient. When we do sin, He even works all of that together for good. His strength is made perfect in weakness - & He promises to work all things together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purposes. Tho' it's often a more painful process when we sin, God uses it all in a remarkable way to make us stronger.

Trees also grow up - from the top (not the bottom). As they continually reach/stretch toward the light they point to it too. If we're growing in Christ, He strengthens us in a similar way, to stand strong to fulfill the purpose He's called those of us who love Him to do & point others to His son, Jesus Christ, who is the Light of the World - & who sacrificed himself for us on the cross - which incidentally - was made from a tree...

By studying seeds, soil, pruning, etc. & considering how beautiful mature trees are - & how they serve/meet the needs of others (ie. purify the air, provide shelter & food, etc.) many more comparisons to the blessed man in Ps. 1 can be made.

By studying phyllotaxy (orderly leaf placement) we'd see each leaf is positioned to receive light - in a pattern based on a simply complex (elegant!) mathematical formula using the Fibonacci Sequence of numbers (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21,.... 1+1=2, 1+2=3, 2+3 = 5, 3+5=8, ... - ea. number added to the next equals the next number in the sequence) from which the Fibonacci spiral is derived - which is found thru'out nature from the microscopic to the telescopic level (ie. DNA, sprouts, shells, pinecones, the human brain, Milky Way galaxy, etc.) Interesting: I've not found one living thing that doesn't begin life as a spiral. Think: germinating seeds & embryos.

Even fingerprints - which we (who the Bible says are made in image of God) leave behind/imprint on everything(!) our fingers touch - ... display the Fibonacci spiral which is displayed throughout our bodies - as well as other Fibonacci characteristics (the link above goes into that just a bit) This causes me to consider (believe!) that what we refer to as the - Fibonacci Spiral, and other Fibonacci characteristics, are essentially... the fingerprints of God. In part because by studying the laws of probability, we know that every pattern (sense/display of order) indicates/implies a premeditated plan/design/purpose. Because this Fibonacci spiral pattern is so(!) consistent thru'out creation & so(!) functional, I see undeniable evidence of an exceptionally creative & intelligent Designer. And because creation so beautifully illustrates what's clearly explained in the Bible, I'm convinced that the God of the Bible is both the Author and Artist of (eternal!) Life.

"Geometry has two great treasures: One is the theorum of Pythagoras; the other, the division of a line into extreme and mean ratio. The first we may compare to a measure of Gold; the second we may name a Precious jewel." - Kepler (1571-1630)

...and so it seems, even the clues (fingerprints?!) in this hunt are treasures....and they're everywhere you look!

Interesting note: just after I finally "found" the word "elegant" to describe this Fibonacci pattern/sequence, I learned mathematicians describe an especially pleasing method of proof as elegant. ...Who knew!?

- was also quite surprised to find this: "Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty .... without the gorgeous trappings of painting or music, yet sublimely pure, and capable of a stern perfection such as only the greatest art can show." - Bertrand Russell - at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mathematical_beauty

Edit: I gather, Bertrand Russel was not a Christian - tho' I'm not certain - but either way, it's hard to understand how what I can see so clearly, others seem to try so hard not to see. One thing I like about math...is a statement is either true or not... whether we choose to believe it or not - doesn't change that - and I wonder if that's, in part, what God wanted us to understand about Him - when He gave us math - which seems to me like a code that when "cracked" --- leads/points to the greatest treasure ever! John 14:6 Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me. ..."

Footnote: Scriptures from NIV

Friday, July 18, 2008

Strike's Room

Strike's room is soooo close to being done! Please don't peek in the closet just yet tho'! Yikes! Had fun transforming it to something much more "like her" - fun/bright/cheerful. She likes her new fort/cubby area where she can hang out/read. We used Wall Pops vinyl "Whiteboard Wallpaper" That stuff is so cool! And we found some vinyl/peelable chalkboard too. Kinda neat. I like the tote hanging from her bed...it's the one my friend packed full of goodies for her to take to camp...and it's just right to hold her waterbottle/book/journal....whatever she wants to keep handy in the night :) The turquoise rug in the fort is actually an exercise mat :) Strike was a huge help. Wouldn't want to count the number of times she went up & down the stairs to get rid of stuff...and she painted quite a bit too.

Playmaker's Room

Playmaker's Bedroom makeover is almost done....still want to convert part of the closet into an office/desk area...we've started that but haven't finished yet. Had some messy fun splatter painting the wall! And I found this cool stuff called "Wall Pops" that's like a sheet of whiteboard wallpaper - but you can peel it off/move it around w/o damaging the wall/paint! So cool! When we lived in OR friends made the coat rack - out of hockey sticks/pucks/pegs. Clever! The black "rug" is actually an athletic mat that she can use do her excercises.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A yard sale in the making?!

Today: Redoing Strike's room. A project I really want to get done - but don't really want to do. I'm actually embarrassed of all the STUFF we're getting rid of between the two girls rooms. Unbelievable! I think if we sold every item for a quarter we could have some serious fun! Perhaps I'll hold our first ever yard sale & put the earnings towards kayaks...which we've been wanting to get for a while now. - Not that I want more stuff!....but I crave more family fun time together (key word here:) -- and that's something I think we'd all enjoy.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Be inspired!

Don't think I'll even try to wrap words around this video a friend shared w/ me - but if "music is words for the soul"... and - "A picture paints a thousand words" you're in for a treat if you watch this:

Fun in the sun!

Saturday afteroon: Enjoyed a great time of fun w/ friends at their lakehouse. So beautiful there! Kids tubed. Playmaker waterskiid (how do you spell that?!) AND windsurfed for her first time...must have a strong sense of balance & coordination! Strike tried waterskiing ....couldn't quite pull it off - but came soooo close! Dad got up on a slolemn ski the first time after not skiing for about 12 years! He's still got it! I'll let the pics say more.

Sheeee's Back! !

Strike's home from her first ever extended time (one week!) away from home alone/at camp - ....and she had a blast :)

Summary: bunked w/ old friends, made new friends, cabins w/ walls you can write on!, baked orange cake (cake batter inside a hollowed out orange peel!) & a shepherds pie type dinner in the fire!, painted themselves w/ (cool!) ashes, canoed, earned swimming award, tubing on the lake, sang, great food, fun games, daily devotions, sent us snail mail ...even to our pets :), enjoyed getting e-mails & snail from us/the pets, bought a sweatshirt at the Tuck Shop, mentioned how camp changed her ... & I sense it did too - in good/positive ways :) Counselor pranks: mattress on roof! & duct tape on her bed - hid her sandals.....poor counselor!, crazy kids! ...all done in good fun w/ permission from the other counselor (who didn't want to be pranked so they left her alone :). Tons of fun in the sun...brought home very blonde highlights as a "souvenir" ... could hardly believe how much her hair lightened up in a week! Happy tears when we picked her up even tho' she was little sad to leave. So good to have her back!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Is the gas tank half full - or half empty?

I often tend to see things differently than others...as seems to be the case with the rising gas prices. While I can't say I enjoy spending more & getting less, I actually do appreciate some of the effects of rising gas prices. A few that come to mind are just the beginning of what, if given enough time, would likely become a much longer list:

I'm convinced higher gas prices are the means that will cause/force us to actually be better stewards of our environment (conserve!) & implement efficient renewable energy technology.... Didn't we learn this in the 70's?? - and - Is it really necessary/worth it to buy products that have been shipped across the ocean then hauled across America in trucks getting 5 mpg?! -- esp. when they're a.) silly trinkets, baubles & gadgets in a "Dollar Store" stuffed w/ stuff that serves little or no purpose (junk!); and b.) made out of petroleum (plastic!) in China where environmental & safety precautions taken in the mfg process are slim to none - which, in part, is why they can make stuff so cheap & undermine our economy at the same time?! Ugh! "It all" just provides even more motivation to support the little/local guy & buy Made/Grown in USA. Hopefully it makes more sense to those too, who could care less about all the other good (common sense!) reasons to do this. While it's not easy to find stuff made in the USA anymore...chances are what you do find is more essential in nature...& more friendly to nature.

I'm also trying to plan ahead/multitask more when I'm out & about to save money - & am trying to be more creative/simplistic in regards to having fun/entertaining ourselves - rather than driving us/our kids all over the map & paying to watch someone else do something/be entertained.

On a personal level, the effects of higher gas prices seem to be translating into something even more precious than money & gas --- more quality & quantity time spent w/ people I love the most (think... hikes, local parks, picnics, family movie nights, board games, outdoor sports, meals around the kitchen table).... & a healthier environment & lifestyle. .... And so it seems - paying more for less isn't such a bad deal now that I've (finally!) figured out that less (of non-essential things/stuff!) is actually more (of what's important & meaningful) ... but I have to think that has something to do w/ how one answers the question spelled out in the title of this post...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Extreme Makeover

We tackled Playmaker's bedroom makeover much like they do on TV....the extreme way!....Most EVERYTHING came out! Yikes!! Unfortunately I think she was hoping to have it all done "instantly"/the TV way too!...Doesn't she realize they're working during the commercial breaks!? :)

We're transforming a sweet little girl room w/picket fence & flowers into a more modern/contemporary - but still feminine - design (new colors: lt blue, white & black). An indication my little girl is growing up. Insert a mix of :) :( tears here...

This project is such that one can really practice & prove the concept - so foreign in our "instant gratification" society(!) - that hard work, patience, preparation (incl a well thought out plan) & attention to detail reap the satisfying reward of a job well done - & having done it yourself! It also offers lots of "illustrations" to confirm that "haste makes waste". We've proved both! All of this is right in line w/ the "Simplify Mode" I'm in. It must be contagious b/c Playmaker has caught it too! Hooray!!

Once I start a major project like this, I'm "driven"! /don't want to stop til I'm done! - So you can imagine Playmaker's relief when it was finally time for me to go to work last evening ... b/c that meant she got a break .

We're on Day 3 - I think?!- Painting/moving moving furniture is done! Whew! The smile on Playmaker's face at the end of the day as she saw our hard work "pay off" was a sweet reward & motivation to press on :) Today's goal is to go thru' "it all" & determine its status: "give away", "throw away", "keep/put away" neatly! ... Theoretically w/ three "stuff categories", we should end up w/ only on-third of the stuff to put away...right?! Hmmm - not sure we'll prove that one....unless I do it all while she's asleep! :)

Stay tuned for a pic once there's a place for everything & everything is in it's place :)

Monday, July 7, 2008

Spontaneous Hair Cut - No tears!....whew :)

Playmaker & I did a spontaneous thing together yesterday & I have to think I happened upon one of the best deals in town! We had our hair cut at a local cosmetology school. I wanted a very different (for me) look/rather difficult cut...but didn't want to shell out big bucks. Playmaker just wanted more layers. So - I mustered up the courage & lay my hair - & Playmaker's beautiful mane - in the hands (holding scissors!) of others (students at that!) ....& in the end breathed a sigh of relief...as we're well pleased! Shampoo, hair cut AND style was $10! I really enjoyed the time spent w/ my daughter.... (who could have chosen to go w/ another friend instead...but she chose to go w/ me! :) -- and am enjoying my fun/new/cool(!) summer cut too.

She & I tried to take a pic of ourselves afterwards/together ...but it just wasn't happening. Pretty funny tho' if you were to see us trying :) I'll try to get/post pics to this post after she wakes up today.


"Strike" went off to summer camp (for a week!) yesterday w/ a friend - her first time ever! She was sooooo excited!! A friend packed her a cute tote loaded w/ snacks/ stationery..... so cute! clever! thoughtful! We're able to e-mail her but she can't reply. We can send snail mail & she can too. I tucked in some surprises in her suitcase ....a photo page of family pics w/ comments from us - told her she could tape it by her bunk. Her Sissy slipped in a note. I'm planning to send notes from home "written by" her bunny & our two dogs.

Strike's a quirky kid...& it's been neat to see her grow out of some of her anxieties that might have kept her from such an exciting adventure in the past....ie. I've not sent her to other camps before b/c she was sooo afraid to go the Dr. to have the required physical! Not this time!! She's growing up! ... but she's still my baby....as evidenced by the fact that she made certain she brought her nigh nigh (blanky) ... & slept w/ her sissy's the night before she left....I think to make sure she didn't forget to pack hers! :) I'm already anxious to pick her up....& hear her stories all the way home :)

The Longsjo, continued....

Spokes did awesome in his first Longsjo ever. Yesterday he dodged a few crashes in the downtown circuit. It was exciting to see him & his teammate working well together. Hubby, Playmaker & I ran around watching from various angles, cheering, video taping, taking pics...& praying!! So grateful he was safe in the end. May edit this post later/try to add stats but overall he finished 47 out of one-hundred twenty something. I admire his perseverance....& faithful year round training . Tried to get some shots from different angles ...the ski lift pic is family & friends taking the easy way to the summit on Day 2 to watch him finish. I like the pic w/ the row of parked bicycles & the race behind...it's a cool shot & I hope to make a poster of it....as I managed to capture Spokes AND his teammate in it...but you have to look close....it's kinda like a "Where's Waldo?!" :)

Ecclesiastes 9:11 I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.

1 Corinthians 9:24
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Spokes is racing in the the Longsjo!!

Spokes is racing in the Longsjo for the first time. What an intense race!! Actually four cycling races over four days! Each yr cyclists (Aprx 750 this yr!) from around the world & the country descend on our town for this event. Day 1 is a time trial. Day 2 is a grueling Mountain ride up/down & around Mt. Wachusett ski resort- 48 miles!! Day 3 (Today!) is a route around Fitchburg State College 3 mile laps/ 8 times/25 miles....and Day 4 is a criterium... one mile loop - 22 laps/ mile circuit around& around & around Main St in Downtown. It's truly impressive!

Yesterday we watched him on a stretch of "Mile Hill"/ downhill ---what an incredible sound to hear as they come whizzing by at high speed....His top speed yesterday was 55mph!! We then road the ski lift to the summit to see him finish. Proud moment for mom & dad!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th of July! Celebrate :)

Happy 4th of July! This and Thanksgiving are the two holidays I enjoy celebrating most!

My husband's co-worker sent this to the whole company today.... the link is to a book, "The Letters of John and Abigail Adams":

Excerpt from a letter from John Adams to his wife Abigail Adams:

But the day is past. The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. --I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time Forward forever more.

You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. --I am we aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. --Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will Triumph in the Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

John Adams

I've long understood that John & Abigail Adams are my ancestors & hope to trace the lineage sometime. After watching the powerful (inspirational!) John Adams miniseries together, my husband seems convinced that I am :) ...as it would explain much about why I am the way I am - & do what I do. If indeed, "it runs in the family", it seems I "inherited" the Adam's passion for truth & freedom. - And, tho' I don't speak/debate as eloquently "off the cuff" as John Adams did, given enough time, I'm usually able to wrap (written) words around my convictions as John & Abigail so often did in letters - to effectively communicate/explain the "why" behind "what" I believe.

It seems the Adam's willingness to sacrifice so much personal life, liberty & pursuit of happiness (*humility!) - in order to "practice what he preached" & serve their country toward that end, - is something to be attained (rather than inherited) by personally trusting God...& in His providence & sovereignty (which I do.) - and that in the Adam's Christ-like humility/sacrifice, their passion was converted to com-passion. While they weren't perfect, I believe it was this "trait" that allowed John & Abigail Adams to lead so effectively& leave such a lasting legacy of freedom built upon the solid foundation of Truth....and I find myself hoping that what I've been told about being related to them is indeed true...because it would be an honor.

Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. - John Adams

*humility - to see oneself as a servant - without regard for one's perceived "worth" or lack of it.... and to act accordingly