Wednesday, April 30, 2008

What's a girl to do??

So, the question has become what are we gonna do AVC? (After Via Christus) And quite honestly I have to say I don't know. I just don't have a clue. I've been trying to stay in the moment and take advantage of and enjoy every moment we have left. It would be easy to say "I can't" when presented with current VC opportunities - because after all what will it matter in two months? That's not the way to look at it. And I struggle. I am frustrated that such a good thing has to have a conclusion. And yet, so excited for where God is leading people. Life is fluid. That's all there is to it. And we have to deal with that fluctuation, and with change. So, again, I don't know what is in store. Mike said it well on his blog yesterday....

" I was reminded that after being immersed in a highly participatory house church community for so long, it would be really hard (if not impossible) for me to go back and be content in that non-interactive "sermon and a sing-along" format anymore, not even if I was the one up front getting to do the sermon."

I know, I hear you all saying if you can't find one, start one. But I certainly don't feel equipped to do so no matter how much I'd like to be. And I certainly don't have the enthusiasm of someone twenty years younger. Or the ideas, connections, knowledge and energy it would take.

I do think about it though, what it would take, how it would look, and who we could get to come on board. But I'm afraid each of the people I would like to incorporate, and whom I think could and would contribute and benefit from this kind of group has multiple reasons why it wouldn't work. Including teenage kids that "need" a youth group.

No easy answers, just more questions. I suppose if you don't dream you'll never get there, but I can all too easily see that dream turning into a nightmare....

Monday, April 28, 2008

Your help is needed!

You've probably seen the headlines about record food prices, which have led to deadly violence and panic across the globe.

The U.N. Secretary-General said last week that the situation has "become a global crisis," and the World Food Programme is warning of a "silent tsunami" of hunger. Even here in the U.S., grocery stores are starting to ration sales of rice.


You can help by Telling Congress to fix our food policy......

Why should you take the time to let congress know how you feel? Because....

....Sadly, this desperate situation is being worsened by our own government's policies. While we spend billions of dollars on food for the hungry overseas, Congress requires that all of it be purchased from farmers in the U.S. and shipped halfway around the world — wasting money and delaying the food's arrival.

As Congress finalizes the Farm Bill, tell them to fix this misguided policy and help feed more hungry people.

From Sojourners

It seems so obvious: When buying food for hungry people overseas, buy from farmers nearby - it's simpler, cheaper, and better for the local economy and environment.....

You play, you pay.....=(

Two hours. Two little hours until I can go home and wrap up in a warm blanket and curl up on my couch. Two hours that seem like two days. I hurt all over, my head feels as big as a beach ball, my nose is stuffy, my throat is raw, and I am losing my voice. Needless to say I can't think or concentrate, yet here I am trying to make the time pass faster by doing something....

I spent Saturday in bed. By yesterday I was determined to be better. Our church took a field trip to Chicago to attend Wicker Park Grace's Jazz Vespers. I'd been looking forward to this forever, so I wasn't gonna miss it!

Before Vespers, Jen had gotten us tickets to do a brewery tour and beer tasting at Goose Island in Chicago. I do not like 312. Sorry Goose Island. I wasn't even too fond of Honkers Ale. Nut Brown Ale - possibilities.... but I just don't like beer. Actually the best one was the Russian Imperial Stout. :)

This is John Hall our guide and brew master, not to be confused with John Hall the owner....

This is the Brewery on Clybourne.

After the Brew tour we headed over to Wicker Park Grace which was fun and interesting. The music was excellent. They had a potluck after the service, but Jen has been wanting us to go to one of her favorite restaurants on Milwaukee Avenue.

So, after Vespers Jen, Karen, Katherine, Kelsey, Kim and I went over to Earwax Cafe for dinner.

Hmmmm I just realized that Jen was the only J there among all us K's. LOL. The food was good, the atmosphere funky. Kelsey had a buffalo burger, Katherine - Jerk Chicken, Karen - the black bean burger and Jen, Kim and I had the Vegi burritos.

Now today I am paying the price for playing. In my defense, I had looked forward to the outing for so long, and I was feeling better. Today I am wishing for home and couch. Grrr......

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Sausage and Pirogies!

This was what I made for dinner last night. It was quite yummy. Pirogies, Italian sausage, onions, peppers, basil, spinach - and a sour cream side.


Disturbing new stories....

A couple interesting stories in the news this morning. The first one is regarding "Christian" license plates... you can find the story here.
Hmmm.... this could be a real can of worms if you ask me.

The second news story is also disturbing, but for a different reason. Rice rationing. I first heard about this on the news last night. This is not a good sign. Rice is one of the few relatively healthy foods that poor people can afford. It is also a staple in many cultures and cultural dishes. It's one thing for food prices to rise - that hurts. But to not be able to get the food we can afford is an ominous sign. I hope this is just a knee jerk reaction, a proactive move and the retailers will rethink this.
It is interesting that most rice is eaten within 60 miles of where it is produced - however due to demand,("as populations cross borders, the taste for specialty rice such as the Indian basmati, or Thai jasmine rice, which grow only in their areas of origin, spread")these supplies are in jeopardy. Granted, the poor here are probably not eating basmati or jasmine rice, but that rice is coming from somewhere, and if we are demanding a large supply the country of origin has to be facing shortages there among their poor.
A recent BBC artcle also states:

The institute said several factors were behind the rise in rice prices.

Land for producing rice and irrigation water is being lost to industrialisation and urbanisation.

The growing appetite among Asia's burgeoning urban middle class, especially in India and China, for meat and dairy products is also leading to less land for rice production.

Factors such as the flooding in Indonesia and Bangladesh and recent cold weather in Vietnam and China have also hurt production, it said.

Rice. Food of the rich?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Rosie the Recycler

Well - we finally got a bunch of our lightbulbs swapped out over the past week. Finally.
That somehow seems appropriate considering it was Earth Day yesterday.
Anyhow, my family room, kitchen and bedroom are now doing their part. :)
If you haven't already done it, give it a shot.....

You can learn about the benefits of CFL's here.

And here are some statistics worth thinking about....

According to the federal Energy Star program:
"If every household in the
U.S. replaced one (standard incandescent) light
bulb with an Energy
Star-qualified compact fluorescent light bulb, it would
prevent enough
pollution to equal removing one million cars from the

And in
case you weren't listening closely, there is this:
"If every
home exchanged the five most frequently used bulbs with Energy
Star-qualified bulbs, one trillion pounds of greenhouse gases would be kept
of the air over the course of the bulbs' lives (a lifetime range of five
to as
many as eight years or so). That's equivalent to the annual emissions
of 8
million cars, the annual output of more than 20 power plants, and $6
billion in
energy savings."

Happy Swapping!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Solidarity or Sanctimony?

WARNING: Rant ahead......

Why do people do those" live on two dollars a day or less for a week" things? It seems they are popping up all over the place these days. What is their motivation? I mean, is it really because they want to feel what it's like? Or is it just that it's trendy and the thing to do? And then tell everyone about it so others will see how concerned they are about hunger in third world countries? Does it make them feel good about themselves - like they are doing something noble? Or, is it just to see if they CAN do it?

I'm sorry - it's beginning to irritate me. Us playing them when they are truly hungry.

That has to seem like a mockery. If you want to enter into this, make real changes, not drastic, splashy," I'm cool cuz I'm doing it for a week" things.

Really cut back. Change the way you look at food, the way you eat. What you eat. Make changes in lifestyle, gas consumption, energy use and consumerism. And mean it. Don't just do it to be cool, or to fool yourself into thinking you get it. Or to alleviate guilt.Or to make some statement.

And why choose this particular project? Why aren't more of them choosing to experience poverty and homelessness in the US? Why don't I see them living / sleeping on a street in Chicago for a week in torn rags, with no coat, in the middle of the winter - and writing about that?

I'm sure this post is gonna make people mad. And I'm equally sure there are some who are doing these things with very good intentions. I'm just not sure this is the way to do it, or that telling everyone about it is the way to go. It's like fasting. Do I run around telling everyone I'm fasting? Or do I just do it - as a thing between God and me? As a way to enter into communion with God. A way for him to show me what I need to hear, see and know.

Yes, we need to understand there are billions or more starving. We need to understand the horrendous poverty that over half the world endures. We need to find ways - like letter writing or phone calls to congressmen, or working on the Jubilee act, or any number of other ways - to help alleviate these conditions, not just pretend to be in their shoes.

Do it if you choose, but keep it between you and God, and maybe a friend or two to talk about what has changed in your life as a result of it. Just don't stand on the street corner enlightening all who walk by.

And when I see you eating cookies made of dirt, salt and vegetable shortening for your five days like they are doing in Haiti right now as their regular meal, I will be more likely to believe you are doing it for the right reasons.....

Messed Up

This is just WRONG on so many levels....
I can't even begin to comment.

here's the video.....

and another one, where the pastor is confronted by another church's members....

Monday, April 21, 2008

Tiptoe Through The Tulips

Spring has finally sprung, and the Tulips are in bloom. Somehow, in thinking about these flowers that herald spring and bring us hope, I made a huge leap to TULIP. Yes, as in theology...don't even ask what prompted it....
I remember in college being totally frustrated in my theology class. Predestination, Unconditional Election, these did NOT make sense. Neither did Limited Atonement. And where did any of this leave Free Will? Of course, we were taught five point Calvinism at our school - but it just didn't sit right with me, and I struggled. I passed the class - I could parrot what they wanted to hear, but even then I questioned what I was being taught.
That's probably why I struggled long and hard for years in the church I was in. Why I didn't fit. I just didn't think like they did, yet I was raised what was the problem? When I was able to pin it down to some of these issues I could see I was a square peg in a round hole. I fit if I was forced in, because yes, of course you can fit a square peg in a round hole... but it was not a comfortable situation.
I believe pretty strongly in free will. And I believe pretty strongly that "Whosoever will" means just that - God has chosen all of humanity to be his elect, that he chooses to make us all righteous. And I believe that God's grace is resistible - we can refuse it. Why would God force us to love him, to choose him? What kind of relationship would that be?
Think about your relationships - if you force someone to love you, or be your friend - what happens? Resentment, pushing back, lack of trust and a suspect friendship.
So, really four of the petals have pretty much fallen away, leaving one standing - Assurance and Security. I'm still debating this, turning it over and over in my mind. Once you have the gift of God's salvation can you lose it? Calvinists say no, Arminians say yes - you can defiantly reject God. To me, I think once you have that salvation it can't be lost, and this begs the question of just what salvation is, and if you were truly "saved" in the first place. And of course this throws back in the whole concept of works. No, works can't save you, but without works, faith is dead! If there isn't a heart change, a desire to follow Christ and his way, was there ever salvation at all?

Wow - deep thoughts for this beautiful spring day when the tulips are in bloom.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Shoulda baked a cake...

Well, happy belated birthday to me.... or rather to Fluctuating Certainty.
My blog is/was three years old. April 4th. And I missed it. By two weeks!
It's fun to look back to some of the old posts and see what was going on in my life, and what I was thinking about and/or struggling with.

"I feel the Earth Move under my feet..."

No, not really. I didn't feel it at all. I felt the one in 1987...but not this one because I was asleep. I did wake up around 4:40, kinda disoriented, and I wondered why - I never wake up at that time. My window was open and I heard dogs barking, squirrels chattering and other weird sounds, but basically, I just fuzzily wondered why the dog was a) outside, and b) running around barking. Then I rolled over and went back to sleep. I miss all the fun.....

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Confidence, misplaced trust and being comfortable will get you no where.....

First of all, HOW DUMB IS OZZIE? Unbelievable. Why wouldn't you fight for immunity even if you have the immunity idol? First dumb mistake. Secondly, why would you assume that your tribe mates are all gonna do what they tell you they're gonna do? Play the darn idol!! Ozzie, I think you are DUMBER than James.

And speaking of DUMB.... the whole tribe is dumb. How can they NOT see that Cirie is the puppet master? She has been calling the shots since early on. I REALLY, REALLY don't like that woman, and I can't understand how her tribe mates can't see her for what she is. They have missed a couple opportunities to vote this manipulator out, and they had better wake up very soon, OR it will be TOO LATE!!

I'll take Five Middle Seats, Please...

and please, put the three year old between those nice gentlemen four rows back....

Hmmmm..... now that's a really good idea. ;)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

So, just when did starvation become accepted and beautiful?

And I wonder how it would make people who are truly starving feel to know that people with tons of money to buy what ever they want deliberately starve themselves to be fashionable, so they can make more money than they will ever need?

Currently France is considering banning the promotion of thinness. This includes making it "illegal for anyone - including fashion magazines, advertisers and Web sites - to publicly incite extreme thinness." It has stirred some controversy, especially since the fashionista's don't want to be told what is and isn't beautiful or acceptable. "Leaders in French couture are opposed to the idea of legal boundaries on beauty standards." Hmmm...

"Didier Grumbach, president of the influential French Federation of Couture, said he was not aware how broad the proposed legislation was, and made no secret of his strong disapproval of such a sweeping measure.

"Never will we accept in our profession that a judge decides if a young girl is skinny or not skinny," he said. "That doesn't exist in the world, and it will certainly not exist in France."

Devorah Lauter, AP

...and so fulfill the law of Christ

OK - so no surprise. I struggle with internalizing other people's problems and hurts. Even if I don't know them. I have a friend who tells me I need to stop. I need to set boundaries, because it effects me so much. I have a problem with that. I remember struggling with this about a year ago as I walked a labyrinth at a church retreat. On the surface it sounds good, and logical. I know a lot of churches spend a lot of time going through the Boundaries book by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. I understand why. I do. But that doesn't make sense to me in light of verses like Galatians 6:2. Or in light of Christ's example. He didn't set those boundaries and refuse to listen, refuse to meet people where they are, refuse to help. And, I don't think this just applies to friends and their problems. It applies to people in poverty, people at the receiving end of injustice, people who are ill - physically or mentally. This verse is the practical working out of the command to love your neighbor. So how can I possibly just sit back and let people struggle, even if it's just emotionally, or intellectually? No matter what their burden I have been told to help bear the burden. And in this way fulfill the law of Christ. So we need to go beyond asking who our neighbor is as the lawyer did in Luke 10 (the parable of the Good Samaritan), and say "what can I do to help?" God has entered into our messy lives, our problems, sins, and needs. He didn't hide behind a boundary. We, as followers of Christ, must be incarnational too - and I'm not sure how boundaries figure into this command.

I for one am glad that Jesus didn't set boundaries.....

Galatians 6:2

Bear ye one another's burdens,
and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (NIV)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Reading Scot McKnight's blog this morning I came across a band called Beckon.Q. Apparently this is a missional band in the Chicago area. I have not heard them, or of them, but I like their lyrics. The following lyrics really resonated with me. They are me.... LOL. So, I thought before I left with the school children for the Kane County Cougars game today I would share them with you.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Quote of the Day

"It's a sad state of affairs when we live in fear
at the hands of other believers."

Think about it......
A lot of us "get" that. We have felt it. We have been, or are, there.
When our motives, our salvation and our beliefs are constantly questioned and judged, and when our jobs often depend on saying and believing the "right thing"... well then, yes it is a very sad state of affairs.
When we are afraid to question, think, look at something with different eyes...
that is a sad state of affairs.
When we lose friends, lose community, lose hope,
that is a sad state of affairs.
When we can't see beyond denominations and labels,
that is a sad state of affairs.
When we try to follow Christ, try to live his commands, care about the poor, the sick, the marginalized as much as we do the "sinner" and we are accused of being liberal, or unbiblical,
that is a sad state of affairs.
When we are wrong, because we don't happen to agree with you...
that is a sad state of affairs.
When we are afraid to acknowledge that we may be wrong in our thinking concerning the Bible, the Good News, God, the kingdom, and who is and who is not "right", or who is and who is not a "christian"
that is a sad state of affairs.

We need to open up the paths of communication instead of rushing to judgement.
We need to mirror God's mercy and grace.
We need to love. Period.
And in this way, as iron sharpens iron, we can learn, and grow. We can understand. We can find the good and the truth, and know it is God's no matter where it may be found.

You are my brother. You are my sister. We should not have to live in fear of our family!

Anyway, thanks for the quote Virgil.... we all need to let it roll around in our heads for awhile and seriously think about the ramifications......both for us individually and for the kingdom.

Double Standard?


"With a simple cup of coffee, Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) finds itself back in the charged debate over how it treats workers. The world's largest retailer is introducing three house-brand coffees that are certified as fair trade. And that, of course, renews the prolonged discussion about just what sort of treatment the world's largest retailer offers its own workers. After all, fair trade, in essence, is about paying a fair wage—and much of the criticism heaped upon Wal-Mart in recent years concerns whether the Arkansas-based company pays employees fairly."

You can read the rest here.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Hit Me!

I have no clue what happened at around 9:30 this morning, but I got over 100 blog hits in less than a half hour. Way weird. And, they included hits from: Latvia, Spain, Brazil, Tunisia, England, Germany, Indonesia, Sweden, Portugal, India, Singapore, Columbia, Peru, Kuala Lumpur, Japan, Chile, France, Argentina, Italy, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Israel, Canada, and all over the U.S.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


I love photography, and I love history. History meets photography in a wonderful way at Shorpy, a site I found today thanks to a friend. I especially love the pictures by Dorothea Lange, Ben Shahn, Lewis Hine and Russell Lee.
If you like history at all, or if you like photography, visit this site. You can even buy prints of the pictures! Most pictures have explanations, dates and comments. I am offering them with out any of that, altho there is much I could say. Enjoy.
Or perhaps be prodded to think......

(arriving at Ellis Island)

Alexandria, Virginia. 1865 Slave Pen

Monday, April 07, 2008

“The waves of the sea help me get back to me.”

So - we are back. Back to Chicago's version of April. I liked Florida's better. Mid 80's and sunny. Blue skies, gorgeous beaches, good food and a car with a sun roof. Sigh. What could be better?
After flying in to Tampa on Monday night, we spent a day at my dad's - and of course we had to go to Clearwater Beach....and Sonic. :)
Jen and I headed out on our Florida Road trip on Wednesday, with my dad and sister accompanying us as far as Cocoa Beach. We did a huge circular drive of mid to southern Florida via the coast. We ended up driving 1175 miles in just a couple days, hitting Cocoa Beach, Miami, the keys - all the way to Key West, back up and across Alligator alley to Naples before giving in and jumping on the interstate to make some good time getting back to Tampa.
We still found time to eat, hit the pool, watch the sunset, etc. and Jen found time to do two small (4 mile) runs as well as one 16 mile run. How would you like to run 16 miles in 85 degree heat with 50% humidity when you are used to running in Chicagoland where it barely broke the 40's and was super dry before we left on the trip? Needless to say the pool was a necessity after that run!
Anyway - here are some pix. Enjoy!

Clearwater Beach

Sunset at Hudson Beach

Sunset at Hudson Beach

Key Lime Pie to die for

Dixie Crossroads....It's been about 15 years since I've been here.....

at Dixie Crossroads

The famous fish pond at Dixie Crossroads.

Cocoa Beach

Cocoa Beach

Cocoa Beach

Cocoa Beach

Cocoa Beach

Seward Johnson's God Bless America sculpture - Key West, FL

Mallory Square - Key West, FL

There are roosters all over Key West - you should hear them all crowing in the morning!

Sunset at Mallory Square

the flagship restaurant


Jen at the Southernmost point in the Continental U.S.

Orange Tree in my dad's back yard

Lemons waiting to ripen on the tree in my dad's back yard


Our Lizard friends...


And my final thought? myspace graphic comments