So what’s up with the cute skull and cross bones?

Okay, okay, I did enjoy Treasure Island when I was a kid, but the pirates didn’t win everything. And it certainly didn’t leave me wanting to be a pirate. I was just thrilled that the boy made it back safe.

Johnny Depp made pirates into clowns, so I can see, from that perspective, why people now consider wearing pirate symbols as just something fun. But a skull and cross bones? Really, what is fun about that? A big red nose, rainbow hair and giant shoes are fun. But a dead man’s bare bones plastered on a little girl’s pink shirt? Oh, wait, the skull is rounded into a cute baby shape with a little pink bow on the top, so that makes it alright. Baby skulls are cute – what?!!!?

So I was at a local fabric store waiting to pay for some festive St. Patrick’s Day textiles, when I overheard this conversation. I don’t try to eavesdrop, I just happen to have excellent hearing, and because of my Asperger’s Syndrome, I have to try to block noises out, which means that I automatically hear all conversations around me unless I try not to listen. I wasn’t in the mood to work that hard, so here’s the jist of what I heard.

“I found the cutest little outfit the other day for Stephanie’s (chose not to remember the real name, so this is just a filler) baby. I am going to give it to her at her shower. It is the soft gray with a skull and cross bones on the front. I know she will just love it! She brought over a cute pink outfit with a skull and cross bones with a matching hat when my little girl was born this fall.”

“Oh, that is so cute. Now your kids will match. How adorable.”

What? Adorable? It’s great that there are matching babies wearing the Jolly Roger? What planet are these women on? What is cute about dressing your infants in symbols of death, destruction, lying, cheating, stealing, pillaging, plundering, marooning, mutinying, and so on?

How is it that we think we are going to have a strong, good nation full of people who will be interested in taking care of the world in a positive, unified manner when we dress from their first days, and entertain them with ideas of the above mentioned? Kids won’t hear how you must not actually act like pirates when that is all we feed them.

I have an acquaintance who often has the right things to say – has great wisdom and often gives proper advice when I am faced with difficulties. But I very seldom take that person’s words seriously because that friend’s life does not show that they use anything they preach. I have another acquaintance whose life and words do usually match. I don’t need to tell you what I do with that friend’s advice.

Please tell me that we don’t need to go as far down as enjoying live gladiator shows again before we wake up to the truth of choosing life to have a good life.

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Don’t Forget True Religion

I just learned about the Manhattan Declaration last week through a forwarded e-mail. Then our pastor mentioned it at church, so I went to ManhattanDeclaration.org and gave it a “look, see”. I agreed with the front page, so signed it.

This blog was going to be about how I don’t think signing this document will make much of a difference in America. And I still think that is true, as do the authors of the declaration. Unless the signing is also followed up with actions by the signers, but the actions I saw suggested on the website were not very inspiring to me. So I was going to say how those suggested action  items weren’t going to be very helpful to America (e.g. tell your neighbors about the declaration and ask them to sign it).

But to make sure that I wasn’t writing out of line, I decided to do a little more reading on the Manhattan Declaration website, and came away with the opposite opinion. What this declaration encourages Christians to do is, I believe, just what the Bible recommends:

1) Remember that people will know Christians by the love they show – nothing else matters if that is not first and foremost.

2) True religion is to take care of the widow and the orphan (e.i., take care of those who cannot take care of themselves).

3) People must be told about about Jesus. But remember No. 1 and No. 2.

There is so much more in the declaration, but these points stood out to me.

Why do we do that?

My cat loves any water, except the clean water in her dish. Her favorite is the water in the goldfish bowl. But she shows up every morning to lick the water off the door of my embarrassingly dirty shower, and bathtime for the kids always leaves her hankering for the gritty, soapy aftermath in the bottom of the jacuzzi.

I don’t understand it. The goldfish water smells fishy – not just from the fish, but from the additives I put in it to make it safe for the fish. Oh, then there’s the toilets, the bathroom sinks, half empty water glasses drooled in by one of the kids.

But when I put her water dish full of crystal clear, unscented water down, she walks over, sniffs  it, looks at me, and walks away. Every once in awhile she will humor me with a lap or two, but the amount of cat litter I scoop, does not correlate to the amount of water that disappears from her dish. And I have to refill the goldfish bowls more than what would be required simply from evaporation, even in the dry winter air.

My theory is this – she was born a wild kitten in my sister’s barn. She drank from a nearly stagnant rivulet that, I guess a generation or two ago had been used as a sewer. It is all she knew, and now, when presented with something different, though better, she snubs it.

I, unfortunately find myself doing the same thing at times. When presented with a new way of behaving, that will definitely bring more joy into my life than my current way of  behaving, I may give it a little try. But in the long run, I go back to the old lousy way of behaving.

I guess this is a common human problem, since Paul writes a whole passage on it in Romans 7. Verses 15 and 24-25 are my favorites of that section.

I am thankful, that, unlike my cat, whom I allow to continue to drink dirty water, God finds positive and negative pressures to encourage me to change, until, eventually, I want to choose the new, better route. Though I still get lazy and drink the toilet water at times, that happens less and less often, and he promises the same for all of us!

Getting Ready for Spring Break

We just booked tickets to South Padre Island for Spring Break. I am so excited – almost nothing gets me down. I feel like I can endure anything – in 10 weeks I will be on the beach with my husband and kids! I need to make sure I have the right clothes for everyone. I think I may need to trim down just a bit so that I don’t need a whole new wardrobe, but my swimsuit does need replacing regardless.

Need to make sure that there are diversions for everyone for the plane rides, though they are not going to be too long. That is the benefit of living in the midwest – it is only 3 hours to the farthest point in the contiguous 48 states.

All of this excitement and preparation made me think of how I should feel about life, in general. I have a big, glorious mansion in heaven to look forward to. I should be preparing for that experience with the same zest and awaiting it with the same unassailable peace and joy. After all, God has promised that He will give me that mansion, and that he will sustain me as I eagerly await that day.

I should be more excited and preparing more zealously for heaven than for South Padre Island. After all, this world is full of uncertainties. There are many things that could happen to prevent us from going, or that could require us to leave early, or could cause us to have a lousy time while we are there.

But I am thankful that God understands my human frailty and is, as far as I know, allowing me to enjoy his wonderful creation on a vacation. And I thank Him for reminding me to look to him everyday with the same anticipation, since his promises of joy, fulfillment, and security are greater than those offered by an island vacation (though in my frailty, it is hard to fathom!).

Funding for ASD/Military Family Camp

My parents have a lake home on Spirit Lake, directly across from the Whispering Pines camp property in Burnett County, Wisconsin. The camp property has come up for sale.
 
My husband and I are interested in keeping Whispering Pines a Christian camp that serves the spiritual needs of families in the area. We would like to start a religious non-profit, so we would not own the camp, the non-profit would.
 
Our dream is to have a place for whole families struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to have a place to recuperate both physically and spiritually. We would like to offer hippotherapy (horse therapy), physical, occupational, and recreational therapy. We would also like to offer educational and counseling services, and most importantly spiritual support for the whole family through chapel services, kids programs and chaplains. Then, of course, the beauty of the lake and the enjoyment of the outdoors would add to the healing process. Our focus would be on serving military families and other families who have a loved one with a long-term developmental or physical disability. But all families experience extreme stress at times, so we would like to provide a place for all families to heal, and grow closer to God and each other.
 
I realize that there are several other Bible camps in the area, but they all focus on children or offering spiritual retreats for families and individuals without the added physical and psychological care that the we would seek to provide. Also, I understand that there is a new retreat center in the area for families who have lost a child or are suffering under the stress of a terminally ill child. The families we hope to serve do not fit into these categories – the families we hope to serve have a member who is temporarily or permanently disabled, but who is not terminally ill.
 
I realize that there are already two other offers on the property – one to make it into a housing development, another to make it into a campground. However, those offers are contingent on zoning changes.
If we can go to the zoning commission meeting on Thursday, Dec. 17 with a viable plan to keep the property a camp, we may be able to persuade the zoning commission to not approve the zoning changes required for the other two offers.
 
I figured out that with 20% down on a $970,000 dollar loan (that is what the current housing development offer is), we would need about $210,000 for a down payment and closing costs, and about $4500 a month to pay for the mortgage, assuming a loan at 5.25 %. My husband and I are able to finance a chunk of this project. If you, or anyone you know would be interested in supporting such a project, let me know and at what amount. If we could have some sort of viable funding by Thursday, that may help to keep the zoning change from being approved.
 
Thank you for your thoughtful consideration. I will not make any comments that disclose financial or contact information public.
Heather Holbrook